5 limited series with an LGBTQ slant

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Scene from "A League of Their Own"
Scene from the limited series "A League of Their Own"

A limited series is a self-contained story from beginning to end that gives you one solid season of prime television. We’re able to latch onto characters and join them for their journey, rather than worry about loose ends that won’t be resolved. Check out these 5 limited series with an LGBTQ slant.

A League of Their Own is a queer triumph that tackles sexism in sports and feels like a love letter to gay generations preceeding us. Inspired by the 1992 movie of the same name, this new series brings the original film’s lesbian undertones proudly to the forefront of the story. The show was made by and stars Abbi Jacobson, the co-creator of the queer-friendly comedy Broad City, who came out as bisexual in 2018. She created the character Carter, who shares similar struggles to Abbi’s own coming-out journey, like discovering her sexuality later in life.

Carter sets off to join a women’s baseball team, The Rockford Peaches, while the men are off at war. The women on her newfound team (pun very intended) open her eyes to queer speakeasies and unforgettable friendships, and Carter experiences real love with a character played by universally beloved D’Arcy Carden.

The show was unfortunately and unceremoniously turned into a one-season wonder, after Amazon scrapped plans for more, but a dedicated fandom is fighting hard online to bring the Rockford Peaches back.

Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Capote vs. the Swans tells the true story of town gossip Truman Capote (Tom Hollander) who uses his cunning, influence, and queerness to fly among the Swans, the successful socialites of 1960s New York.

The titular Swans become Capote’s best friends. These powerhouse women are more than the beauty they embody — they offer that old-school snark while simultaneously clutching their million-dollar pearls. Between planning perfect parties and fanciful luncheons, their very real issues of cancer, extramarital affairs, and a looming betrayal give the Swans more to grapple with than their fading glamor. The Swans draw on Capote as a source of comfort; he fills a hole in their hearts that cigarettes and chardonnay just cannot. He listens, he helps plan parties, he’s a loyal confidant.

Capote’s role as a gay best friend has been played since the Stone Age, the snarky sidekick to the dutiful wife. But we see fame, addiction, and a fabulous ghost of his mother played by Jessica Lange change Capote. Turning from gay best friend to backstabber, Capote used his words to weave chaos in the lives of these women and aired a lot of dirty laundry. Truman flips the GBF stereotype on its head by turning on the ladies he lunches with, spilling their secrets to the world through his exaggerated writing.

"Feud: Capote vs. The Swans" promo
“Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” promo

A gossip with a voice as shrill as his attitude, Capote was a famous writer who penned Breakfast at Tiffany’s and a slew of drama-filled books that “borrowed” from the lives of his elite friends. Gossiping has always been a hobby beloved in our community; who doesn’t love some spicy tea? Queer people may not always have the power through muscle, but we’ve weaponized words for centuries to cut sharper than knives ever could. Just watch Paris Is Burning or reading challenges on RuPaul’s Drag Race — we can be brutal with a verbal takedown.

After Capote breaks from his Swans, it becomes an intimate tale of a man falling into madness. After being invited into their inner circle, protected and propelled by their influence, Capote used all their private conversations against them. So why did he choose to publish secrets and lies about his former friends? We’re not meant to root for Capote and that’s refreshing — more gay villains! We haven’t had a great one since Jafar in Aladdin.

Limited series "Big Little Lies" promo
Limited series “Big Little Lies” promo

Some shows are meant to be limited series but blow up for another season due to popular demand. That happened with HBO’s Big Little Lies, as gays around the world championed the thriller starring Hollywood’s most motherly mothers — Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Meryl freaking Streep. If I found out this show was cast by a gay algorithm I don’t even think I’d be mad. Following five women with a shared dark secret, the stakes are set where trusting each other is paramount. While the women all identify as straight, there are definitely queer undertones present from the lavish shore houses to the tortured souls who inhabit them. No amount of beautiful beachside homes or millions made can heal these damaged moms, and it’s such a privilege to see an ensemble cast of complex female characters.

Big Little Lies became the top show for Monday morning conversations, offering an escape from real-life monotony to their world in Monterey. As the weekly episodes dropped the consensus was clear: this surprise show that peeked behind the curtain of seemingly entitled women had reached iconic status. It breaks from traditional limited series by getting a second season, but when the cast is into it and the star power is out, how could you say no to more Dern?

"Fellow Travelers" promo
“Fellow Travelers” promo

Fellow Travelers shares a raw, honest look at the lives of gay men in the mid-20th century. Against the backdrop of a hostile McCarthy-era Washington D.C., the show dives into the wild lives of then-closeted men. But this tale is more than just tragic; it’s one of true love and all that it brings, both good and bad. Aside from the powerful main duo (played by Matthew Bomer and Jonathan Bailey) we should applaud the strong performance from supporting actor Jelani Alladin. His character, Marcus Gaines, is bound to make you pay attention whenever he’s on screen; he’s a black and gay journalist struggling to navigate his writing career amid the racial disparity of the time and his own internal journey of self-acceptance.

His character later becomes a teacher in San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic, delivering a beautiful speech to his student who tests positive. Marcus absolves and embraces the student, showing a level of love and community that was so crucial at a time that was dismissive of people living with HIV or AIDS. His story demonstrates how queer people of color were subjected to even more inequality and highlights the government’s ineffective response to the rise of HIV and AIDS.

Fellow Travelers feels like a necessary time capsule. It’s an invitation into the world of our queer elders, who fought through a lot to get our rights. Fellow Travelers is an honest look into a past we need to remember is not too distant.

Limited series "Lessons In Chemistry" promo
Limited series “Lessons In Chemistry” promo

Brie Larson shines in every project she’s in and Lessons in Chemistry reaffirms exactly that. The show (faithfully based on the successful novel by Bonnie Garmus) is a one-season series that recognizes the power of science and how grief can transform us into something entirely new. Add a dollop of queer undertones and the recipe for this series is queen of the kitchen. Self-assured in her chemistry skills, Larson’s character Elizabeth Zott ventures from the lab to star on a cooking show, eventually using her platform to advocate for women’s rights and reproductive health.

Undervalued women in STEM fields continue to face a lot of the similar biases in the LGBTQ community, dealing with bigotry and denial of equal opportunity. Elizabeth’s independent nature and unique perspective is constantly scoffed at by the people around her. She’s living a life eerily similar to that of a queer person — someone forced to be strong who’d thrive outside of their time.

We meet Elizabeth’s brother and how his queerness made him an outsider. The abuse he experienced at the hand of their father motivates Elizabeth to question the world, leading her to a profession in science. Her brother’s tragic life and death taught her the very real consequences of oppression. A poignant line from her brother that rings true: “I think that living a lie will eat you up inside. Whatever hell is, it must feel something like that.”