If you hadn’t heard, broadcast television is not nearly the dream destination it used to be for quality TV programming. For evidence of that, look no further than this list of shows featuring LGBT actors, characters and storylines to watch out for this spring. Only three of the 13 shows on this list find a home on one of the “Big Four” networks.
The innovators of the television industry have expanded the search for a home to make their dynamic and daring ideas come to life. Cable networks like HBO, Showtime and Logo are landing prime LGBT fare, but the undisputed champion of LGBT content this season is Netflix by a mile.
Check out this list of the returning favorites and newest hits to grace your multiple screens this spring.
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Currently on Netflix)
The one and only Tina Fey co-created this new sitcom starring Ellie Kemper (“The Office,” “Bridesmaids”) in the lead role as a woman who escapes a doomsday cult and starts life fresh in New York City. Jane Krakowksi (“30 Rock) co-stars and keep an eye out for Tituss Burgess, who plays (who else?) Titus, Kimmy’s gay roommate who works as a robot in Times Square.
“Powers” (Currently on PlayStation Network)
This new series is the PlayStation Network’s first original scripted programming and is based on the comic book series of the same name. It stars Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) as homicide detective Christian Walker, who investigates cases involving superheroes and supervillains.. Transgender actor Eddie Izzard co-stars as “Big Bad” Wolfe.
“Dancing With The Stars” (March 16 on ABC)
Season 20 of the popular celebrity dancing competition brings a whole new crop of hoofers, and those looking for a gay angle can look no further than cast-member Michael Sam. Sam was the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the NFL. While he’s still looking for a team to sign him and become the first openly gay player in the NFL, he’ll team with Peta Murgatroyd in the meantime to show what he’s got on the dancefloor. Gay fave Patti Labelle is also taking part.
“One Big Happy” (March 17 on NBC)
Ellen DeGeneres is the producer on this new half-hour sitcom starring Elisha Cuthbert (“24,” “Happy Endings”) as Lizzy, a lesbian who enlists her longtime best friend Luke to father her child. Things go haywire quickly when Lizzy finds out she’s pregnant on the same day that Luke announces that he has married a woman that he recently met—and whom Lizzy doesn’t like. Hijinks are sure to ensue. Plus hey, lesbians!
“Weird Loners” (March 31 on FOX)
This new half-hour sitcom from Michael J. Weithorn (co-creator of “King of Queens”) is about four relationship-phobic people who form an unlikely bond in a townhouse in Queens, New York. “Happy Endings” fans will recognize Zachary Knighton but keep an eye out for scene-stealer Meera Rohit Kumbhani, who plays Zara, a bisexual heartbreaker who always lives in the moment.
“Younger” (March 31 on TV Land)
Openly gay TV veteran Darren Star (creator of “Melrose Place,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Sex in the City”) is back with this new half-hour comedy-drama series based on the Pamela Redmond Satran novel of the same name. It stars Sutton Foster as a 40-year-old recently divorced mother who has trouble finding a job until she gets a makeover. Hilary Duff and Debi Mazar co-star.
“Game of Thrones” (April 12 on HBO)
SPOILER ALERT for those not caught up with HBO’s blockbuster fantasy drama series. Viewers said goodbye to bisexual lothario Oberyn Martell (played by Pedro Pascal) in a gruesome way in season four, but fear not. There’s usually always something for everyone in this multi-layered TV epic, and fans of the U.K. Version of “Queer As Folk” will recognize Aidan Gillen as the dastardly Littlefinger.
“Cucumber” and “Banana” (April 13 on Logo)
Speaking of “Queer As Folk,” Russell T. Davies, the openly gay creator of the British version of the show, is back with these two new supergay TV shows. “Cucumber” focuses on a middle-aged man who deals with the fallout from a horrible date with his boyfriend of nearly a decade, while “Banana” focuses on LGBT youth in Manchester.
“Penny Dreadful” (May 3 on Showtime)
There was already enough of an LGBT quotient on Showtime’s horror TV series thanks to the inclusion of bisexual character Dorian Gray (yes, gay writer and poet Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray), played by Reeve Carney, but then viewers were treated to a surprise makeout session last season between Gray and Josh Hartnett’s character Ethan Chandler. Carney’s character will have a new love interest in season two.
“Grace and Frankie” (May 8 on Netflix)
Now this is the one everyone’s been waiting for. Jane Fonda and lesbian actress/comedian Lily Tomlin star in this new sitcom from Netflix as “frenemies” who are brought closer together when their husbands, played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, leave their wives for each other. We’re setting a countdown for this one.
“Sense8” (June 5 on Netflix)
Oh look, another new show from Netflix. This sci-fi drama series was created by Andy Wachowski and his transgender sister Lana Wachowski, who were the masterminds behind “The Matrix” trilogy. And the LGBT connection doesn’t stop there. The show will follow eight stranger whose minds suddenly become linked as they explore the themes of identity, sexuality, gender and more.
“Orange is the New Black” (June 12 on Netflix)
Everyone’s favorite women’s prison comedy-drama returns for season three! You want bisexuals? There’s Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling). Lesbians? There’s Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (played by Uzo Aduba), Alex Vause (played by Laura Prepon), Poussey Washington (played by Samira Wiley), Nicky Nichols (played by Natasha Lyonne) and Carrie “Big Boo” Black (played by Lea DeLaria). And of course there’s the one and only Laverne Cox, the transgender actress and activist who plays the transgender character Sophia Burset.