Growing up as queer and Latinx, it was rare to see someone like me on TV. It feels as if television executives tend to favor the white, straight family over the gay, Latinx family. However, the reality is that we are not all white and straight. In fact, white people only make up about 60% of the population of the United States, while Hispanic people make up about 20% of the population, and Black and Asian people make up the next biggest percentages. Furthermore, a recent poll by The Washington Post indicates that 1 in 6 Gen Z adults identify as LGBTQ+, with that number expected to grow. The fact is, shows about white, straight families are not enough. Throughout quarantine, I have taken the opportunity to watch many TV shows. Here are 5 of my favorite shows that provide real representation to people of color and the queer community.
One Day at Time (seasons 1-3 on Netflix, season 4 on Paramount+ and CBS)
One Day at a Time follows the Alvarez family. Penelope is a Cuban, single mom of two, who was recently discharged from the army and is living with PTSD. There is also Lydia, the very traditional Cuban grandmother that helped Penelope raise her two children, Elena and Alex. Alex is the younger of the two children and has always been babied by his mother and “abuela.” Lastly, there is Elena, a proud Latinx and queer activist. Throughout the show’s four seasons, they tackle anxiety, depression, coming out, acceptance, racial profiling, being non-binary, and many other situations you would not normally find in a sitcom.
Modern Family (all seasons on Hulu)
Modern Family is a sitcom that centers around three families blended into one; the Dunphy’s are the traditional, white family of the show. The Pritchett’s are a blended family made up of Gloria, Manny, and Jay. Gloria and Manny are Colombian, with Gloria newly-married to Jay. Lastly, there is Cameron and Mitchell Tucker. They are a gay couple that just adopted Lily, a Vietnamese baby. Although this show may appear stereotypical at times, this show shows exactly what a real family looks like. Divorces happen, and not everyone is white or straight.
Black-ish (all seasons on Hulu)
Black-ish focuses on the Johnson family, consisting of Bow, Dre, Diane, Jack, Zoey, and Andre Jr. The show examines Black culture, what it means to be Black, what it means to be successful, and how the Black community fits into this country. Dre is successful and has given his family an amazing life, but he often runs into conflicts with his coworkers who try to undermine him. Dre and Bow teach their parents what it means to be Black, including things like the “talk” many Black parents give their children to prepare them for the harsh world they live in that is often geared against them.
Grey’s Anatomy (all seasons on Netflix)
Grey’s Anatomy follows a group of doctors in a hospital. Over the course of this shows 17 seasons, it has shown the diversity of the medical workforce. We generally think of our doctors as just that, our doctors. However, this show characterizes doctors as people with lives. Many of them are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and face many problems outside of work. The staff of the hospital includes white, Black, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, bisexual, and gay characters. Although the show takes place in a hospital, its slew of diverse characters makes it feel much more like real life than other dramas.
Euphoria (Warning: rated TV-MA) (all seasons on HBO Max)
Euphoria is a raw and authentic drama that follows Rue, a Black teenage addict, and Jules, a Trans teenage girl. While much of the show is too graphic to describe, it provides a look into the life of a teenage addict as she battles her addiction and relapses. Many of the other characters are a part of the LGBTQ+ community or are of color and are represented authentically, rather than being whitewashed or a stereotype. Although I highly recommend this show, please do not watch it if you are especially sensitive to depictions of sexual assault, drug use, or self-harm.
With proper representation, we can see that it is okay to not be white or to be queer. TV has the ability to normalize things that may be different to us. Please consider watching the shows I mentioned above! We can only hope that one day lists like this will not need to be made because queer and minority characters will just be something normal. Please remember that if you are ever struggling with anything, consider reaching the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or The Trevor Project. They’re available 24/7 and are there for you!