The streaming giant Netflix is certainly a company that values the inclusion and representation of the black and LBTQIA+ communities. Since its first original production such as “Orange is the new Black”, the series with several LBTQIA+ characters, including the protagonist, the theme is recurrent, showing to the world in a humanised ways, without clichés and stigmas, all the diversity of the LBTQIA+ community. Undoubtedly, Netflix plays a very important role in the dissemination and representativeness of this group, previously relegated or marginalized by major audiovisual production studios.
The Netflix catalogue can be viewed in more than 190 countries, with the company tailoring its content to the region’s audience. Also, Netflix has been investing heavily in its own productions that are not limited to English-speaking countries, for example, Brazil is one of the markets that streaming has been creating content, which is not limited only to the Brazilian population, since the contents can be accessed in different countries. The same happens to Spain, whose series achieved great notoriety around the world, as in the case of the “Money Heist” or “Elite” series.
In fact, Netflix has in its DNA the appreciation of cultural diversity, which ends up being its greatest triumph as a content creator and streaming company. Have a look at how the LBTQIA+ community is portrayed in some of Netflix’s most expressive series titles and its importance for acceptance, representation and inclusion of this community.
Orange is the new black
The 2013 American drama-comedy “Orange is the new black” features the story of Piper Kerman, who lives in New York and is sentenced to serve 15 months in a federal women’s prison for having participated in the transport of a bag of money, from drug trafficking to help her ex-girlfriend Alex Vause, who is an important part of an international drug cartel. To pay for her crimes, Piper decides to surrender and exchanges a comfortable life for the prison. Swallowed by an “orange universe” completely different from her previous one, she ends up finding tension and companionship in a group of prison inmates.
The series consists of numerous gay, bisexual, transgender characters, many of whom have black skin. The series shows the female universe and its plurality in a limit situation of women prisoners, dealing with painful stories of crimes, racism and homophobia. The TV programme shows that even people who make mistakes can repent, are worthy of forgiveness, and are above all human beings with qualities and defects.
The dramatic fictional series “Sense8” follows the story of eight strangers from different cultures and that in their daily lives, everyone suddenly has a vision of the violent death of a woman and, from then on, they discover to be mentally and emotionally connected to each other, being able to communicate, feel and seize the knowledge, language and skills of others. Those who have this type of gift are called Sensate. As they try to figure out how and why this connection happened and what it means, a mysterious man named Jonas tries to help the eight. Meanwhile, another stranger, called Whispers, tries to hunt them down.
The series features two of the eight protagonists as part of LBTQIA+ community: Nomi Marks, a trans woman, a political activist who fights for the rights of the LBTQIA+ community and a hacker, who lives with her girlfriend in San Francisco, and also Lito, a Mexican actor who tries to hide his sexuality and his affair with Hernando, fearing that homophobia will destroy his heartthrob career in soaps and movies.
The British comedy and drama series “Sex Education” tells the experiences of Otis, a teenager struggling to cope with sex, largely because his mother is a sexologist, and his classmates, teenagers with hormones surfacing, at a secondary school. Eric, Otis’ best friend, black, is openly gay to himself and Otis, who lives with his traditional and religious family, tries to hide his sexuality from them. He ends up having a romance with Adam, the troubled and aggressive guy who has always bullied him.
The series also discusses other aspects and characteristics of the community with non-binary gender, lesbian marriage, etcetera. The series could just be a teen silly series, but it’s much better than that. It is a delightful series that discusses taboo themes about sex and sexuality in a creative and current way.
The drama mini-series “Hollywood” created by Ryan Murphy, one of Holywood’s most important names for LGBTQ + community (Glee, Pose, Ratched) the miniseries features young aspiring actors, writers and directors in search of fame in the glamorous Hollywood Golden Age after World War II.
The miniseries reveals representativeness through black and gay characters, such as the romance between aspiring actor Roy / Rock Hudson (inspired by real events) and his black boyfriend and aspiring screenwriter, who suffers prejudice in the industry.
Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City
“Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” is an American drama miniseries that premiered in June 2019, based on the Tales of the City novels by Armistead Maupin. Laura Linney, Paul Gross, Olympia Dukakis, and Barbara Garrick reprised their roles from previous television adaptations of Maupin’s books: the original Tales of the City in 1993, and the sequels More Tales of the City (1999) and Further Tales of the City (miniseries) (2001).
The reboot follows intertwined stories such as Mary Ann Singleton who returns to 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco after a 23-year absence for the 90th birthday of her former landlady, Anna Madrigal. Mary Ann is happily reunited with Michael Tolliver and Anna, but things are more complicated with her ex-husband, Brian Hawkins, and Shawna, the daughter she left behind to pursue a broadcasting career. Shawna follows a mysterious attraction to a new girl in town who is making a documentary about 28 Barbary Lane. The relationship between transgender man Jake Rodriguez and his lesbian girlfriend Margot Park faces challenges as Jake explores his newfound attraction to men. Michael struggles with the option to stop using condoms now that he is in a relationship with Ben Marshall, who is on PrEP.
“Elite” is a 2018 Spanish teenager drama and crime series, which portrays 3 working-class teenagers who, through a scholarship, go to ‘Las Encinas’, the private elite secondary school, with wealthy, ambitious and cruel students. In addition to discussing social prejudice, the series explores all youth dramas such as sex, drugs, betrayals and passions.
One of the most beautiful storylines is about the romance between two soulmates, the rich and sportsman Ander and Omar, a rebel boy from a poor and Moorish family that he doesn’t come out his sexuality afraid of being punished by God and his family. In the third season, Elite brings a love triangle between Paolo, Cayetana and Valerio, in addition to introducing, Malek, a Muslim student who becomes Nadia’s boyfriend, but hides that he is in love with her brother, Omar.
“Special” is an American comedy television series that debuted on Netflix in 2019. The series is based on the memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves (2015) by Ryan O’Connell, who also stars, writes and serves as executive producer on the series.
Special is “a new and distinctive series about a gay man, Ryan with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he wants”. The series has a very sensitive narrative, it makes us laugh and get emotional with each episode.
“Super Drags” is an addicted Brazilian comedy animation released in 2018 that follows the adventures of Patrick, Donizete and Ralph, friends who work for a department store and become three heroines: Lemon Chiffon, Scarlet Carmesim and Safira Cyan, the “Super Drags”, protecting the highlight, the “vital energy of gays”, by the evil drag Lady Elza.
The series is unpretentious and great entertainment to learn the slang of the LGBTQ+ community.