Slowly but surely, TV shows are doing a better job at depicting the full scope of the varied LGBTQ+ experience on-screen. The 3 TV shows below did more than just move the dial forward when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation on-screen. They broke down the doors. In honour of Pride Month —let’s take a look back.
Friends didn’t feature the first same-sex marriage on network television, but it did have the first lesbian one. Yes, before Carol and Susan said, “I do!” on a 1996 episode of Friends, no one had ever seen two women tie the knot on a show. “It was the first lesbian wedding to ever be shown on TV, and they blocked it out in some affiliates,” Jane Sibbett, who played Carol, explained on Lorraine. “But it all worked out as we got so much press because they blocked it. We actually won awards for that storyline.” Awards, and an important slot in LGBTQ+ history.
Ellen DeGeneres ventured into uncharted territory in 1997 when her character on Ellen (her popular, self-titled sitcom) came out. It marked the first time a character ever publicly declared out loud, “I’m gay,” on television.
Will & Grace
Will & Grace doesn’t have any “firsts,” really. Well, that’s not true; it does contain the first-ever Cher fever-dream sequence (see above). What’s so trailblazing about Will & Grace was how normal it was; it featured two gay men at the centre who were happy, well adjusted, and successful—for the most part. It was radical back then—especially on network TV—to see gay people just living their lives without having any internal turmoil about being gay.