10 TV Shows Giving Everyone the Representation They Need

 

  1. Shameless (US)

Perhaps one of the funniest shows on television, Shameless often doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s contains plenty of crude and offensive comedy yet it still manages to portray Ian Gallagher and his relationships well without depending on gay steriotypes and tropes. Ian’s sexuality is not used a personality factor, it is simply one of many parts of him. Ian’s relationship with Mickey is anything but conventional, two kids from a rough area who fight each other as much as they love each other, never letting societal norms define them. Ian’s later boyfriend Trevor, a trandgender man, is rightly played by transgender actor Elliot Fletcher. Shameless’ racial representation doesn’t span as wide as it’s lgbtq+ representation as it does centre around White family (with one Black child, Liam, whose heritage is still somewhat a mystery). However, the shows longest running and most successful relationship is that between the family’s neighbours, Veronica and Kevin, a biracial couple, Veronica being Black and Kevin being White. They’re relationship is strong and deals with common problems couples have without focusing heavily on race. Veronica and Kevin’s relationship is easily one of the most constant elements of the show.

2. Elite

 

 Elite, one of the best shows on Netflix, is a Spanish drama that is so much more than the typical teen TV show. Nadia, one of the main characters, is a Spanish-born Muslim whose family is orignally from Palestine. Nadia’s representation is a topic of discussion as the show tends to highlight her family’s beliefs as negative. On one hand, Elite shows a young Muslim girl with drive as the smartest in her class while also being fun and sociable. However, Elite also portrays her father as a strict disciplinarian who doesn’t want his kids anywhere near the other kids at their school in order to preserve their beliefs. Nadia’s father is vilified which subsequently vilifies his faith. While Nadia eventually removes her hijab as a sign of freedom, she never renounces her faith, only broadens her experiences. Nadia’s brother Omar turns away from their family and lives with his boyfriend Ander. Their relationship, the only gay relationship in the show, is the strongest and longest and definetly a fan favourite.

 

  1. The Politician

The Politician is full of sexually fluid, queer characters. The main character of The Politician, Payton, is unapologetically selfish, ambitious, arrogant, and bisexual. Payton is far from the typical queer character. Yes, Payton is bisexual but that does little to define him, he’s too preoccupied with getting into Harvard and later becoming President of the United States. He is proof that a queer character does not need to be defined by their sexuality or gender. The show also shows River, the school’s golden boy’s bisexuality and his struggle with depression. The show also portrays a lesbian biracial couple McAfee and Skye as well as James, a character whose gender is never discussed, played by Theo Germaine, a Transgender non-binary actor. The Politician is about greed and unwavering ambition with a diverse cast not because it needs diversity but because it wants diversity.

 

  1. Grace and Frankie

 

Grace and Frankie portrays main characters past retirement age living unconventional lives. The show began with Grace and Frankie’s husbands leaving them to be together after hiding their affair for years. Robert and Sol slowly learn to live out of the closet while in their 70s. Frankie and Sol have two adopted sons, Coyote, who is White, and Nwabudike, who is Black. Grace and Frankie’s content is quite light but often has characters of different faiths, race, and sexuality.

 

  1. Dear White People

Dear White People’s main cast is almost entirely Black which is necessary due to the content of the show. The show portrays the struggles these Black students go through everyday as well as struggles unique to each character. The main character, Sam, struggles with being half-white and how that affects her identity. Troy and Coco both feel the need to act more ‘White’ in order to get ahead. Lionel struggles with his sexuality as well as his ability to fit in. The show revolves around race relations and the struggle Black people experience in general as well as the Characters’ struggles at a predominantly white prestigious school.

 

  1. Queer Eye

Queer Eye’s representation needs no explanation. Five queer men, two of which are men of colour make an incredibly diverse cast. What makes Queer Eye’s representation that much better is not the men themselves but the people they make over. They’ve made over gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, White, Black, Brown, women, men. They also bring together people of different beliefs, even a Trump supporter. Queer Eye is heartwarming and focuses more on human connections than on race, sexuality, gender, or beliefs.

 

  1. Big Mouth

           

Big mouth, while somewhat ridiculous and wholly inappropriate, has some great lessons for pre-teens and teenagers. The kids, all around 12 years old, are struggling with the changes occuring during puberty. They are all a mix of religions and ethnicities yet all remain gross, emotional pre-teens. Jay is learning about his bisexuality while Jessie struggles with her parents’ divorce and her mom’s new girlfriend. More than anything, Big Mouth is about kids coming to terms with their sexuality and desires.

 

  1. Pose

Pose focuses on the lives of lgbtq+ characters of colour. With multiple trans characters played by trans actors, the show beautifully represents people of colour as well as queer people. The show focuses on ball culture as well as touching on many problems such as queerphobia, racism, and the HIV and AIDs epidemic of the 80s and 90s. Pose is one of the few shows that portray minority characters as the main substance of the show, not side token characters whose main purpose is to add diversity. Pose uses its diverse characters to shed light on racial, social, and economic tensions and inequalities.

 

  1. Black Mirror 

One of the best things about Black Mirror is its inattention to race. The actors cast are not cast because of their race. There are many episodes featuring people of colour as the main character but their race has nothing to do with the plot. The characters are written in a way that allows anyone to play them, regardless of race. The San Junipero episode depicting a lesbian couple is one of the best and has won many awards including a BAFTA and Emmy. Black Mirror doesn’t use actors of colour as token characters, they cast them because of their ability to play the part, an attitude that television could use more of.

 

  1. Brooklyn 99

Of the seven main characters in Brooklyn 99, four are people of colour, two being Black and two Latina as well as a bisexual and a gay character. Brooklyn 99 has used its diversity to touch on topics such as racism and homophobia in the 70s, police treating Black people unfairly, and women’s struggles in male dominated workplaces. Captain Holt is a gay, Black man in the police force who often speaks of his struggles in the police force. Rosa also came out as bisexual, adding an extra layer to show.