As an LGBT+ person I’m torn when it comes to writing about Netflix’s Pride Month selection: its comedy section has funneled a great deal of money to people who think edgelord “I identify as…” jokes are the pinnacle of humour, and Netflix has dismissed or ignored protests from its own staff and contributors as well as its queer customers about some truly offensive content. But it also has some superb shows that get LGBT+ representation right, that tell LGBT+ stories well and that deserve a wider audience. So I’m going to recommend six shows I think you should stream, and warn you about three you shouldn’t.
1. First Kill
Imagine Romeo and Juliet, but Romeo is a lesbian vampire. That’s First Kill, in which a vampire and a vampire killer fall in love. Reviews have been mixed –Variety called it “tired”, a “collection of clichés and buzzwords for a network trying to thrive on the brownie points of including it at all” – but queer publications such as Them.us have been much more positive and the show currently has a 91% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Can I make a Buffy The Vampire Layer joke? I just did!
2. It’s a Sin
The word “masterpiece” is hurled around with gay abandon in TV land, but this stunning and heartbreaking series deserves the accolade. Originally made by Channel 4 after the BBC and ITV declined to take it on, the series follows a group of young gay men and their friends through ten years of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the UK. It’s beautifully written and acted, and the later episodes will have you in tears.
With a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating from the critics and 98% from the audience, Heartstopper is a definite hit. Based on the hugely popular and genuinely lovely web comic, it’s a wonderful coming of age story featuring two teen boys trying to make sense of everything. As USA Today put it, “it’s a simple story that feels vital in today’s climate… Heartstopper is one of the best teen series Netflix has ever offered.”
4. Pray Away
With the UK government excluding trans people from its proposed ban on dangerous, traumatising conversion therapy this documentary feels particularly important right now: although the focus is on the “pray the gay away” conversion therapists of the 1970s – and some of it is a very tough watch – the film makes it clear that this kind of abuse is very much a contemporary problem too.
5. Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration
Recorded in May 2022, Stand Out is a festival of queer comedy featuring Eddie Izzard, Margaret Cho, Sandra Bernhard, Tig Notaro and many more. Netflix has also commissioned a documentary of the same name featuring many of the same comedians discussing the role of LGBT+ stand-up in challenging bigotry. That’ll be released this year.
This 2020 documentary does a brilliant job of showing just how awful, dehumanising and downright vicious so many movies and TV shows have been, and continue to be, towards trans people.
Speaking of which…
3 Netflix shows to avoid this Pride month, and also forever
Sadly the money Netflix spends on creating or buying LGBT+ content is dwarfed by the huge sums it gives old straight men in exchange for peddling reductive, lazy and often offensive and dehumanising stereotypes of LGBT+ people. Give these shows a wide berth.
In this Netflix Original Ricky Gervais, a multi-millionaire, middle-aged, cisgender straight man, peddles offensive anti-trans stereotypes for a reported paycheck of $40 million. That’s two times Netflix’s annual spending on its fund to support marginalised creators such as LGBT+ people.
2. The Closer
In this Netflix Original Dave Chapelle, a multi-millionaire, middle-aged, cisgender straight man, peddles offensive anti-trans stereotypes as part of a reported $60 million deal. That’s three times Netflix’s annual spending on its fund to support marginalised creators such as LGBT+ people.
3. The Prom
In this Netflix Original James Corden, a multi-millionaire, middle-aged, cisgender straight man, delivers a “truly disgusting”, “gross and offensive”, “insulting” and “horrific” performance of tired gay stereotypes for an undisclosed sum. Corden’s net worth is believed to be $70m. That’s three and a third times… you get the idea.