In recent years Netflix has become something of a haven for gay content. There are currently hundreds of titles to choose fromin the LGBT+ section, from critically acclaimed hits like Blue is the Warmest Colour to guilty pleasures and camp comedies like Priscilla Queen of the Desert, King Cobra, and Hurricane Bianca (both one and two).
Apart from giving a much-needed spotlight to independent gay cinema, Netflix has allowed its original content to include LGBT+ characters and themes. Unburdened by the restraints of traditional broadcast TV or the weight of box office expectations, the streaming service has created a unique space where content can just be.
“It commissions shows that other networks are wary of. It’s made eye-popping deals with notable talent.”
“Ever since Netflix began airing original series, it’s positioned itself a rule-breaker that didn’t have to pay attention to TV’s old and outmoded traditions.”
The first such eye-popping deal it made was with Jenji Kohan, just off her 8-year tenure on Showtime’s hit series Weeds. She created Orange is the New Black (OITNB), a bold and ambitious series that dove headfirst into the grim (though sometimes humorous) realities of life in a women’s prison. It didn’t hold back on depicting the LGBT+ side most prison shows ignore, with major characters having same-sex love stories. The series even gifted us with Lavern Cox, an indelible trans acting talent who has gone on to lead a movement.
“The queer relationships (on OITNB) go beyond acute discussions of sexuality and labels, creating an atmosphere of an understood sexual spectrum,” writes Elle Carter for Diva.
“Where often queer women’s narratives revolve around the struggles surrounding coming out, OITNB moves away from this singular trope and envelopes a myriad of circumstances and storylines. Somewhere between sitcom and gritty drama, it achieves a balance between a binge-worthy watchability and sincerity.
“We are getting queer women on our screens alongside real issues. The show's immense popularity is a testament to the fact that this representation has been desperately needed.”