I can’t imagine 2020 without queer TV shows, movies, books, and podcasts. From new media like Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Little Fires Everywhere to classics like Saving Face and Dykes to Watch Out For, LGBTQ-inclusive media kept me going through this difficult year. But in 2020, queer media wasn’t all fun and games. Among the television shows that ended this year, all too many featured prominent and diverse queer women.
One of the first television shows with queer characters to end this year was Vida. This GLAAD Media Award winning drama, which features an ensemble cast of several LGBTQ Latinx characters, completed its three-season run on Starz in May. In my opinion, queer show runner Tanya Saracho did an excellent job portraying the intersectionality of Latinx and queer culture in a multi-dimensional manner. This isn’t surprising, given that Vida had an all-Latinx writers’ room with mostly queer women.
Other queer Latinx stories were on the chopping block in 2020. After being canceled by Netflix in 2019 and revived by PopTV in 2020, One Day at a Time was canceled yet again. Before watching One Day at a Time, I had never seen a sitcom that tackled so many important topics including mental health, immigration, and sexuality. But after being shopped around to several networks, the show was officially cancelled on December 8, leaving another gaping hole in LGBTQ Latinx media representation.
In 2020, Netflix also canceled several shows featuring queer teenage characters, including Trinkets. This two-season teen drama revolves around three high school students who meet at shoplifters anonymous. It features several LGBTQ characters played by queer actors, including nonbinary musician Kat Cunning. In addition, out actress Brianna Hildebrand plays Elodie Davis, who—refreshingly—has already accepted her sexuality, unlike the plethora of other television shows that focus on coming out stories.
Trinkets wasn’t the only show with queer teens that Netflix axed this year. After one season, Netflix ended both Teenage Bounty Hunters (TBH) and I Am Not Okay With This. This was a real shame given that like Trinkets, both shows also featured queer teenagers with fully realized identities. As Devon Hales, who plays April on TBH recently pointed out, TBH made huge strides by going beyond stories of “the pain, the suffering, the misunderstanding, and the lack of acceptance” of LGBTQ people, even in the Christian community.
Netflix didn’t throw away all of its television shows with queer teenage women. Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever, which featured a coming out story, was renewed for a second season. But despite the show’s success, it still begs the question of why so many other teen-themed shows with queer characters were recently canceled.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this year, we also lost some game-changing television shows with both male and female LGBTQ characters, including Modern Family, Schitt’s Creek, and How to Get Away With Murder. Some primetime shows with queer women characters were also canceled after one season, including Stumptown and Tommy.
As we move into 2021, television producers and writers have big shoes to fill and lots more queer women characters to write in order to make up for this year’s losses.