It felt like this year, more than any in the past, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer audiences had a lot more options to choose from when it came to finding characters (and queer-themed shows) on TV to which they could relate. That expansion of options may be, in large part, due to the fact that there are a number of openly gay producers behind some of TV's biggest hits.
"I think you need to include people from all walks of life and that's really, for television, such an immediate thing," Greg Berlanti, creator of The Flash, the CW's record-shattering series featuring multiple gay characters from the comic book universe, told Outearlier this year. He was not alone. Michael Patrick King brought back The Comeback after nearly a decade off the air, on Faking It, Carter Covington explored the complications of sexuality and high school, and Jill Soloway reinvented the family drama with a transgender matriarch on Transparent.
The development of more gay characters led to some astounding moments on TV. With How to Get Away With Murder, Peter Nowalk pushed the boundaries for gay sex in primetime. On HBO's Looking, we finally saw characters that were just as flawed -- and sometimes as boring -- as us. Of course, not all the best programing was found on cable (or even traditional TV formats). Both Orange Is the New Black and Transparent found creative freedom on online streaming networks (Netflix and Amazon, respectively) to tell stories that would have been unheard of a decade ago. There's no doubt we're in a post-Jack (Will & Grace) world.
In alphabetical order:
American Horror Story: Freak Show
With the current season of AHS, Ryan Murphy has pushed the limits of what fans are willing to tolerate. While Asylum was considered one of the most gruesome seasons, Freak Show, at times, has just been grotesque (and somehow still wildly entertaining). One particular scene that stood out was the bloody murder of rentboy Randy (Matt Bomer) in Dandy Motts' (Finn Wittrock) backwoods hideaway. Bomer was brought in for one episode, stripped down, and then slaughtered onscreen. It was the gay male version of every classic horror scene that typically casts a busty, helpless woman. Kudos for flipping the script.
Between The Comeback, Marry Me, and Scandal, Dan Bucatinsky played three notable gay characters on TV this year. And we'd be remiss if we somehow didn't appreciate the achievement in being able to do so. But since we're focused on scenes, the standout is not his shocking death on Scandal, but his freakout on The Comeback. Maybe it was a PTSD moment for this editor, but when he launched into a tirade against his client Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow) and his inability to secure prominent placement in The New York Times compared to the likes of Jezebel, the moment was both accurate and subversively funny.
When the show first premiered, many wondered, Is this just some sort of gay-baiting series that is using sexuality as a punchline? Within the first episode, producer Carter Covington proved the show was truly about navigating sexuality as a teenager. And it was in episode 4 when closeted lesbian Amy (Rita Volk), confided her true, still-ambiguous feelings about her best friend Karma to her openly gay and confident classmate Shane (Michael J. Willett) that reminded fans that high school is hard. And sexuality isn't black or white -- it's messy, confusing, and sometimes funny (in hindsight).
Hit the Floor
When it came to summer's guiltiest pleasures, the VH1 series about love on and off the basketball court turned it up a notch in the second season when it introduced the bisexual (and sexually aggressive) Zero (Adam Senn) who suddenly beds another male character. While both were thought to be straight when first introduced, the two turned out to be gay (or bisexual) by the end. It was a nice surprise and nice match to the explicit straight sex witnessed over the course of the show's first two seasons.
How to Get Away With Murder
During the premiere of the ABC series created by Shonda Rimes' protege, Nowalk, something revolutionary happened: two gay men had passionate, suggestively explicit sex. Halfway through the first episode, audiences watched as law student Connor (Jack Falahee) seduced an unsuspecting Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) and then later gave him what was believed to be a rim job in bed before having sex with him. Game changed.
>>>MORE GREAT GAY TV SCENES OF 2014
While there were several standout moments -- Patrick (Jonathan Groff) giving Richie (Raul Castillo) a fairly graphic blowjob in the opening of episode six or the same character pretending to eat kale when really munching on a lonely bowl of macaroni and cheese -- from the first season of HBO's gay dramedy, it was episode seven that truly delivered on the promise of the series. An agitated Patrick chased Richie out of his car on the way to his sister's wedding and then ended up locking lips with his boss Kevin (Russell Tovey) while Dom (Murray Bartlet) unleashed a decade's worth of anxiety on a centerpiece-obsessed Lynn (Scott Bakula), and Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) abandoned all hope in his own art project and destroyed what remaining relationship he had with Frank (O.T. Fagbenle). Producer Andrew Haigh (Weekend) finally showed audiences what honest portrayals of flawed gay men look like. It wasn't pretty. And it was heartbreaking.
After five seasons, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) finally got married. In the show's two-part finale, the couple -- who up until this point, owned a home together and adopted a child -- made their partnership official almost a year after DOMA and Prop 8 were overturned by the Supreme Court (in real life that is). In typical MF fashion, the show balanced the sentimental with the hilariously outrageous, but when it came to the vows there was no joking around. Two men were happily wed on primetime TV.
Orange Is the New Black
After spending the first season of Netflix's hit series on the sidelines, Poussey (Out100 honoree Samira Wiley) finally got her moment to shine with a backstory, which revealed that the inmate was a military brat in an interracial relationship. After being caught by her girlfriend's father, Poussey and her family were tragically transferred back to the States, leaving the future inmate heartbroken and seeking revenge.
Saturday Night Live
Over the past year, the women of SNL have dominated the long-running sketch comedy show. And in one episode late in the 39th season, breakout stars Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon delivered one of the best treats to fans: "Dyke and Fats." It was one of the rare gay sketches that got it right while letting fans laugh at themselves. If only we got more of these smart shorts from the show itself.
One of the best scenes from this groundbreaking Amazon series still has to be the end of the pilot episode when Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), a still-closeted trans woman walked in on her married daughter kissing another woman (her former lover). It was shocking and awkward and so true to life. Coming out doesn't always happen as planned. And the ripping of the Band-aid for a patriarch who was still trying to find the courage to reveal her true self to her family was just kind of the brutal honesty needed to make this series work.