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8 Couples Redefining Queer Relationships on TV

8 Couples Redefining Queer Relationships on TV

8 Couples Redefining Queer Relationships on TV

Love in the primetime of comedy (and drama).


Queer characters on TV are more visible and more complex than ever and suitably their relationships have followed suit. Building on the legacy of Six Feet Under, Modern Family and other revolutionary shows, these 8 couples are redefining queer relationships on TV.

Connor and Oliver, How to Get Away with Murder

A gay slut on TV. How original, right? Well, kind of. Until recently, gay characters have been sexually neutered in primetime which makes Connor (Outcover boy Jack Falahee) a standout on the ABC melodrama. A law student who's too handsome and ambitious for his own good, Connor finds himself falling for Oliver (Conrad Ricamora), a computer nerd he seduced to acquire information for a case way back in the first episode. Or maybe he's just clutching to Oliver on his fall down the rabbit hole of his mastermind professor, Annalise Keating (noted "everything" Viola Davis) and her seemingly bottomless crazy. Either way, Connor's beginning to feel "things," and we get a front row seat to this Pinocchio becoming a real boy. Oliver, meanwhile, has never been with a guy like Connor — of the dashing, debonair variety — and his insecurities are not only relatable but provide a foil for Connor's dwindling confidence as his mind unravels over the murder at the show's center. 

Ian and Mickey, Shameless

Definitely one of the most unconventional relationships on TV, Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) is in love with local street tough Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher), who’s married with a kid. Yet this modern family somehow makes it work. Ian and Mickey’s tumultuous and often violent relationship reaches its tipping point when Mickey comes out to his homophobic father, who starts beating the shit out of him before Ian butts in and head butts the Millovich patriarch. Gallavich, as the Internet lovingly refers to the couple, is not your typical TV couple, but then again neither Ian nor Mickey are your typical TV gays. Their propensity toward violence is one of their most distinguishing and appealing aspects. Call me crazy (and probably mining some long-buried personal issues), but there's something about a head butt that's undeniably hot:

Jamal and Michael, Empire

The gay black experience has been given short-shrift on television, with the noted exceptions of The Wire, Noah's Arc and, to a lesser extent, True Blood. That makes Empire the first primetime network show to address the black community's frayed relationship with homosexuality. While Jamal's mother, Cookie "Fucking" Lyon (wig-snatcher Taraji P. Henson), has been nothing but supportive, she's also overbearing and manipulative. On the other (abusive) hand, his father Lucious (Terrence Howard) doesn't understand his "sissy" son and makes no attempt to do so. Jamal's only support system, then, is Michael (Rafael de la Fuente), his strong-but-silent boyfriend who keeps him from going off the deep end. Michael's character hasn't been developed that much so far, but with ratings increasing every week, it's only a matter of time (hopefully) before we dive deeper into their relationship.

Ray Holt and Kevin Cozner, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

As opposed to EmpireBrooklyn Nine-Nine treats the homosexuality of the other prominent African-American gay male character on Fox — Ray Holt (Andre Braugher in a comedic tour de force) — with relative nonchalance. Capt. Holt's equallty poker-faced husband, college professor Kevin Cozner (Marc Evan Jackson), initially takes an immediate disliking to the 99 in Season 1's "The Party." Detective Peralta (Andy Samberg) figures out that Cozner generally doesn't care for Holt's cop friends because of the racism and homophobia his husband has experienced in, of all places, the NYPD. However, he's won over by a persistent Peralta, who gifts the couple with a romantic dinner for two with the help of his fellow officers. The NYPD's relationship to black men, and to the gay community, has been checkered, to say the least, but Ray and Kevin's relationship manages to speak to that while still providing one of the show's few touching moments. 

Stef and Lena, The Fosters

Lesbian moms Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) have redefined the blended family with their five, racially diverse biological, adopted, and foster kids. Stef, a stern cop, and Lena, a bleeding heart vice principal, are revoltuionary for any number of reasons because they represent a new kind of family. That the acclaimed show airs on the Disney-owned ABC Family represents a growing mainstream acceptance of LGBT families. And anything that raises the ire of One Million Moms is fine by me.

Dom and Lynn, Looking

Murray Bartlett and Scott Bakula portray the most mature relationship on HBO’s dramedy Looking, not only because they're older than Patrick and Agustín, but also wiser. While Patrick is seemingly content to be his boss' dirty little secret and Agustín is generally fucking up and around San Francisco, Dom and Lynn ain't got time for that. They're grown-ups taking part in a grown-up relationship, which for daddy-chaser bait Dom is a new experience. He's turned 40 and is coming to grips with aging — something gay men notoriously have a hard time addressing — and coming to terms with his relationship with someone older than him for a change. And, I must say, the change suits him well. 

Maura and Shelly, Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor and Judith Light are magnificent as Maura Pfefferman, a retired college professor who late in life comes out as a trans woman, and her ex-wife Shelly. Theirs is one of the most surprising and touching aspects of Amazon’s award-winning series (I binge-watched it in a day!), as the two have managed to remain friends after the dissolution of their marriage. Maura and Shelly are each other’s support when their three kids are too preoccupied with their own lives, which is in part their fault. They weren't the best of parents, and their marriage was strained by Maura's secret, but it turns out that they're better friends than anything else. 

Sarah and Tammy, Transparent

GIF via Buzzfeed

Maura's eldest daughter Sarah (Amy Landecker) is the most open and welcoming of her transition, probably because she herself has had trouble nailing down her own identity. A comfortably (if not happily) married mother of two, Sarah overturns her domestic life when her former lover Tammy (Melora Hardin) re-enters the picture. Further complicating matters, Tammy has a partner and a child of her own, but the old flame burns too hot, and soon enough, Sarah and Tammy are back together, throwing their posh lives completely off balance. It's hard to root for these two self-abosrbed cheaters, but you can't help it, due most likely to the quality of the writing and acting.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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