Do you guys remember when The N was a thing? I miss that channel to this day.
Listen I still have vivid memories of being eight years old, curled up on the couch, being so tired and staying up obscenely late just to catch Degrassi: The Next Generation. Guys fucking commercials were still a thing. My poor little soul had to stay awake for an entire hour, through commercials, just to watch my show.
The struggle was ridiculously real.
Can we talk about Degrassi though? It was ridiculously ahead of it’s time. I mean that was 2002 for Christ sake and it handled topics like sex, pregnancy, any and all kinds of abuse, drugs, bullying, self image, sexuality, self injury, mental illness, suicide, abortion, domestic violence, death, racism – all from teenagers povs. Also it had teenagers playing teenagers, which is still unheard of.
(It was so hard hitting that my mother made me put together a report on why I should be allowed to watch it ahaha. I did, and I got to continue it, so I guess I passed?)
Degrassi aired for 14 solid seasons and even though I’m pretty sure I stopped after 9 (it moved channels and all the original characters were gone) it was definitely with me from ages 12-16 which, let’s be real, are not fun for everyone.
(I’m having a lot of nostalgia right now)
Degrassi was important to me for a lot of reasons. The teenage perspective hit home, the episodes dealt with shit that were really happening in our world, but there were certain things that stuck out to me more than others. Or, should we say, certain characters.
Care to take a guess on why? Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hint:
Wow. Can we talk about this oldschool gif quality. Also I want to point out that both of the blondes are siblings. Gays come in packages ya’ll.
So Marco and Dylan started up in the 3rd season, which would have made me…10ish? 11ish? It was the absolute first time I had ever seen a same sex relationship on tv and I was living. I was so invested in the turmoil of Marco and Dylan’s relationship. From Marco coming to terms with his sexuality, to Dylan being frustrated when he wouldn’t come out, to breakups and heartaches and gawd. I cried over these two.
(I also wrote a shit ton of DylanxMarco fanfics so you can thank them for getting me into queer writing my babies)
Thinking back on it I’m pretty sure Dylan was Not a Good Guy but at the time. At the time, they were on a teen drama. A gay couple. In the 2000s. There was at least someone who didn’t treat homosexuality like it was an adult subject. Good Guy or not, at least he fucking existed.
Paige and Alex were a messy relationship too, but their struggles were real. And I think that’s also important. I’m usually against being invested in relationships that just break up but. Teenagers turn into adults, they grow and change, and you can’t always take people with you. Relationships are hard. (Look what this show taught me!)
(someone buy it for me so I can rewatch and cry alot)
You guys wanna know what came on after Degrassi? South of Nowhere.
(Yeah, my ass was staying up even later God help my little gay self.)
Listen. Listen. SoN focused primarily on a girl falling in love with her bisexual friend. Yeah, sounds exactly like something 11yr old Char would be into, right? SoN went hard like Degrassi did and handled a lot of the same subjects, it also focused in on teen life, but the cast was smaller so you got to really see how shit effected everyone, especially in a nuclear family.
(Also I’m pretty sure Ashley Davies (Mandy Musgrave) was my first girl crush? Look at her? What a babe?)
SoN only ran for three seasons which I still think is pretty damn good given the time and that it was on a teen network. I’ve seen it all more than once over the years. The homophobia was strong in this one, but it was also good in that it showed some people be unquestionably in the girls corner, and others who came around once they got used to it. And it ended on a happy note! With the girls still together! Can you handle that?! (NEITHER OF THEM DIED -gasp of shock-)
God this show. I had a lot of love for this show.
I want to rewatch it again holy shit this road is not good for me and my need to reignite my feels.
Okay lets move on shall we?
Yeah I know, who doesn’t love Ellen? But for real, let’s talk about her and her show for a moment. I could literally write a hundred blog posts on her alone but I’m going to try to keep it down to the highlights and why she means so much to me personally. I don’t really remember how old I was when I started watching Ellen, though it was between 13-18. I would come home after school and my mom and I would watch it together. It was her pick (which, yes, is important, see words written below).
One day my mom mentioned that Ellen was gay and my feet nearly came out form under me. This woman? With her talk show and her millions of viewers? That everyone seemed to genuinely like? That my mom liked? A woman of power? A gay woman of power? No way.
I think maybe Ellen opened the door for my mom and I to have a lot of talks about being lgbt and what that meant for people. I grew up in a religious state, in a Christian household, so there was always the stigma that ‘being gay will send you to hell’, but I challenged that. How could a woman like Ellen, who helped so many people, who promoted kindness, who lived and loved, be going to the worst place imaginable just because who she loved happened to be another woman? (also can we just.)
My mom agreed with me, she couldn’t imagine it either.
So here’s what Ellen gave me: a role model, someone to look up to, and someone that my mom liked. If she could like a gay woman she didn’t even know, then surely she would still like me, right? Right.
I didn’t find Queer as Folk
or The L Word
until I was in college but whew, boy, did I not watch anything else for awhile.
QaF was the first hour-long American tv drama to follow the lives of gay men (and a lesbian couple). It came out in 2000, and was followed by The L Word in 2004. (Maybe those years were gayer than they seem?) But, they were both very adult oriented and were released on Showtime. Ya’ll, Showtime goes hard. You can almost get a homo sex ed class out of these shows LOL.
QaF handled a lot of important topics but I think the ones that stood out to me the most were the HIV storylines and Queer Bashing. The latter was a hard hit, and a reminder that homophobia can go farther than a few harsh words.
Truth be told, they’re not the best shows in the world. The L Word especially is messy the later the seasons get. But, their entire character casts are queer, they’re wrapped up in queer culture, and they’re fun to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed them.
(well, except for maybe the last season of The L Word. Can we pretend that one didn’t exist?)
Alright I’m almost done, and I’m going to go out crying probably, because I’m never going to be over how amazing Sense8 was and how fucked up it was of Netflix to cancel it.
This show, guys. This show had it all, but for the purpose of staying on topic: It was written by a transwoman, included two same sex relationships, a lesbian WOC as well as two gay men from Mexico, and a lesbian trans woman. But most importantly, these characters were handled with respect. None of the drama in the show was about their relationships. Was Lito struggling with his sexuality and coming out? Sure. But when they talked about it, it was true to heart. It was issues that we’ve all faced, and advice that hit home. Was there transphobia? Absolutely. But again, it was handled right.
No one’s life was over because they were different. They learned to take who they were and become stronger.
Sense8 was a show on a major streaming network that had an interesting plot, a diverse cast, and didn’t kill off their lgbtq+ characters for shock value. It was important,
and even though it crushes my soul that we’ll never know what happened to anyone because season 2 ends on a cliffhanger and Netflix is a dick, I urge you to watch it. Because it’s simply beautifully done, and it deserves all the attention in the world.
Alright, so, there’s the list of TV shows that have somehow inspired my life in a positive way, and made my days just a little brighter!
Enjoy your binge session 😉
All the best,
EDIT: Since posting this, Netflix has finally paid attention to the half a million fans throwing a fit and has agreed to giving Sense8 a 2hr special to close up. So proud of everyone who fought for it.