By Mariam Bagadion
The LGBTQ+ community started garnering attention and momentum in television beginning in 2004 with The L Word. Glee drew a larger audience and initiated a sort of normalization of queer characters in the media, (even though their portrayal of some of the queer characters perpetuated a few stereotypes and could be seen as just a little problematic, but that’s another can of worms) and newer shows like The Fosters and How to Get Away with Murder have queer characters as part of their main ensembles.
But there’s another form of media that has become the unsung hero for queer representation: the web series.
A web series is a scripted show, much like mainstream television that appears online in episodes that are only a few minutes long. Web series have all of the components of a mainstream television show by utilizing writers, directors, producers and actors with all of the creative freedom of a YouTube channel. Media censorship can limit what viewers see on television screens (which is a problem in itself, but again, different can of worms). These hoops are virtually non-existent for web series creators and many take advantage of it, promoting the visibility of all sorts of sexualities and gender identities. While definitely not complete, following is a list of web series that I’ve personally watched and thoroughly enjoyed for you to devour with hosts of queer characters and identities.
Carmilla: Predating Dracula, Carmilla is a vampire novella written by Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872. The web series, created by U by Kotex, is a modern retelling of the story with Laura; who’s pretty much every college kid who goes in with plans to change the world, and Carmilla; the sexy, so-insanely-out-of-your-league-you-can’t-help-but-crush-SUPER-hard-on-her vampire who becomes her roommate after her first one mysteriously disappears. The cast also features a literature TA who has a group of bow and arrow wielding ladies at her beck and call, the Mom Friend perpetually close to spontaneously combusting, and a non-binary scientist who looks at the face of danger and says, “neat.”
Couple-ish: If you enjoyed, Carmilla This is a great next-step. Created and written by Kaitlyn Alexander, the non-binary actor who portrays LaFontaine on Carmilla, Coulple-ish follows the story of Dee who becomes unwillingly pulled into a civil law partnership with their roommate, Rachel (Sharon Belle, who plays the kick-butt Lit TA in Carmilla), all so Rachel won’t get deported. The two need proof of their ‘loving’ relationship so what do they do? Create a YouTube channel. If you spend your free time on YouTube watching vlogs and challenge videos like I do when I feel like taking a five hour homework break, you’ll greatly enjoy the vlog aspect of the show. Like LaFontaine, Dee is a non-binary character and the main cast covers a range of queer sexuality, which is something that Couple-ish does not shy away from which is a breath of fresh air from the cookie-cutter gay/lesbian dichotomy that television boasts as ‘diversity’.
High’rd Help: High’rd Help takes the all too familiar story of the awkward protagonist in pursuit of a girl and frames it through a queer lens, breaking from the mold of heteronormativity. Ava is just a girl with a crush on another girl. Like many teenagers, Ava suffers from the curse of teenage awkwardness, though her case is to the point where she is appointed a guardian angel named Charlie. Charlie’s task is to help Ava get the girl but, of course, it’s never that easy. High’rd Help is ridiculously relatable. A lot of us don’t want to relive that one crush that we’ve either literally or figuratively fallen for or the one we became an entire mess for when they walked by or, god forbid, initiated conversation. At least through watching the webseries you only get a dose of secondhand embarrassment; though I’m not responsible for any violent highschool flashbacks you may have.
Lovely Little Losers: Lovely Little Losers is a vlog series based on William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. It is the sequel of Nothing Much to Do which is a vlog series based on Much Ado About Nothing. It is set in New Zealand and follows a group of flatmates who decide to set up rules to govern the house where they live. One of them: No romance allowed. This in itself causes a lot of problems considering two of the flatmates are in love with each other, and one of them already has a girlfriend. Lovely Little Losers has a bisexual and gay lead and is perfect for a Shakespeare fan like myself.
Mariam is a first year student at St. Cloud State. She is studying English with a concentration in creative write. She is also minoring in Film Studies, with the goal of being a screenwriter after graduation. In the meantime, she writes short pieces of fiction and enjoys reading books.