The LGBT presence is growing on network and cable television. Gay characters on shows like Modern Family are a more regular presence, while shows like Lookihng offer a more specific lens into queer culture. Still, network and cable shows aren’t always able to offer as personal and relatable an experience as an LGBTQ viewer, like myself, would want.
Enter the web series. Hosting a show on the web isn’t a new thing, but the quality of these series is on the rise. And not all of them are on major content providers such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. I learned about a number of independently produced shows initially through a panel at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and found others through word of mouth and the magic of Google. Of course, for every amazing show, there are multiple ones I couldn’t get through ten minutes of, but that’s content everywhere. And the gems truly shine with professionalism and charm.
Here are some recommendations of web series I’ve enjoyed. Notably, my preference tends to be for character-based, subtle comedy and drama. I like some broader comedy but it’s a lot more hit or miss for me — you’re not going to find the gay version of the Hangover here. I’m also not including anything from the larger sites such as Netflix or Amazon Instant video (though I love Transparent). Please note too, this is not even a slightly exhaustive list, and I’m all ears for more recommendations!
An addictive, funny, and sometimes dark look at the splintering after-effects of a relationship gone bad, trying to find connection in all the ways modern gays do and not always succeeding. The writing is fantastic and witty, with some pretty graphic sex scenes (if you like that kind of thing) and great observations on gay life.
Wallflowers revolves around a support group for singles, led by a bizarre and hilarious counselor and former groupie. The cast includes a couple of gay characters of note – one who bizarrely gets re-cast a couple of times – but the whole cast is very relatable. Who hasn’t had terrible dating experiences?
The Outs’ Adam Goldman also penned this oddly compelling series about three struggling twenty-somethings trying to get by in New York – most notably two camera crew members shuffling between awful reality TV shows. It really captures the scrape-by mentality of living in NYC and the struggles between making rent vs. working on projects you actually care about. As far as the queer content, one of the three main characters is gay, and there’s other LGBT elements in the plot. Alan Cumming also has a notable cameo in this.
A local web series of note, Capitol Hill is the most broad and stylized among these, following a young, pretty starlet moving to Seattle from Portland, in search of fame, fortune and love. It’s incredibly campy, featuring an introduction from local RuPaul’s Drag Race star BenDeLaCreme, and boylesque sensation Waxie Moon in the lead.
Submissions Only is a web series about the friendship of a casting director (gay) and a struggling young actress (straight), amidst the backdrop of the theatre audition scene in New York City. It’s really well-acted and funny, with top-notch performers from the Broadway world, some great star cameos (Kristen Chenoweth, etc.) and sharp, funny writing. A caveat here: some of the humor may come across as insider-y, so you’re more likely to enjoy it if you have any sort of theatre geek background, but it’s worth trying if you like the allure of backstage/behind-the-scenes comedies.
Will and Grace famously explored the best friend relationship between a gay man and a straight woman. But less explored is the dynamic of a friendship between a gay man and a straight man. He’s With Me is unpredictable and genuinely funny, with a main character who is prickly yet sympathetic.
What are your favorite web series?