From casual homophobic comments to condescending body-shaming remarks, there are so many things around us that aggravate prejudice towards individuals who don’t fit the cookie-cutter definition of what is normal.
The feminine gay best friend, the insecure fat sister, or the incompetent short co-worker of the protagonist; there’s a plethora of ways in which stereotypes are reinforced in pop culture.
But, every once in a while, a certain TV show will take a break from these mindless projections and present the world as it should be – inclusive of people of all colours, shapes, sizes, identities, and orientations. If you’re tired of rummaging through garbage, your search stops here. We found some of the most inclusive TV shows with diverse characters that almost feel like a fresh breath of air. Get the popcorn, and gear up for the mid-week binge!
Diverse TV shows that are pushing boundaries
1. Sex Education
Sex Education has many lessons to give, “You’re great just the way you are” has to be the best one of them.
The show not only touches upon, but delves into topics like sexual awareness, asexuality, homosexual relationships, the taboos associated with virginity, and more.
The queer characters on the show aren’t stock representations, they have their own trajectories.
Whether it is Jackson having two moms (a diversion from the classic heterosexual family norm), or Eric’s relationship troubles when he comes out, or Adam’s struggle with his sexuality, every character has a different story. Featuring a diverse cast, Sex Education has celebrated inclusion like never before.
2. Orange is the New Black
Drama, crime, or comedy. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? How about all the three! Orange is the New Black takes you on an adventurous trip with its enduring characters that surprise you at every turn.
Convicted for a crime she committed years ago for an ex-girlfriend, Piper Chapman must serve in prison for a year and a half. While the story starts with Piper’s journey, we get acquainted to the multifaceted stories of her prison inmates too. The show does an understated representation of the LGBTQ community (many women are in homosexual relationships), while also lending a touch of body positivity with its not-so-perfect characters.
3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
From F.R.I.E.N.D.S to The Office, there are some shows that you cannot not watch. If there’s a series that has made it to the list year after year, it’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. One of the most inclusive shows today, B99 is winning hearts with its diverse cast; they’re shooting down racism and homophobia one funny comment at a time. The detectives of the 99th precinct are headed by an openly gay black man – Captain Holt. Not only is Holt happily married, he is also redefining the way people perceive gay characters on screen.
The show also sees the coming out of Rosa Diaz. She simply announces to her team that she is bisexual, and refuses to address it any further. Her sexuality does not become a point of contention to her team. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is funny, charming, and just the right amount of funny.
Talk about a fulfilling, feel-good show and Shrill instantly comes to mind. The show takes a dig at fat-shaming, while also changing the norm on LGBTQ+ representation in shows. The show’s fat protagonist Annie is full of life; she is confident and gorgeous, and she knows it. She is unafraid to take chances – whether it’s going on multiple dates or wearing risqué dresses for a ladies’ night out, she is one ferocious beauty.
When a doctor tells her to undergo a procedure to change her body, she makes sure to give the medic a piece of her mind. She knows she is as deserving as anyone else, the show just watches her acknowledge it.
Shrill also makes a competent representation of the queer community. From her boss Gabe to her roommate Fran, and Fran’s partner Em, there are many shades of the rainbow in this show. In one particular scene, Fran comes out about her sexual orientation; it is almost as authentic as it is heart-warming.
If you’ve watched Indian stand-up, you are no alien to Sumukhi Suresh’s contribution to the comedy landscape in India. She is awkward, she is funny, and she is courageous. So what happens when the country’s most relatable comic features in a TV show of her own? You drop everything to watch it!
Pushpavalli has met the love of her life, and for him she has packed her bags and moved from Bhopal to Bangalore. There’s only one problem: he doesn’t know they are in a love story.
Pushpavalli deals with everyday problems like a nosey landlady, budget issues, period pains, and her crush not noticing her. The unconventional protagonist is just making her way through each day, while shattering fat-stereotypes without even realising it.
6. Made in Heaven
The OTT scene in India expanded itself with some ground-breaking shows, and Made in Heaven was one of them. Two wedding planners Tara and Karan run an upscale brand, Made in Heaven. They plan luxuriant weddings for their richer-than-God-clients. But with each episode, we come across a little more than a beautiful wedding in progress.
We come a little closer to the hidden reality that looms behind these perfect lives – both of the planners and their clients.
The show’s portrayal of Karan’s homosexuality is as real as it is beautiful. He’s not out of the closet yet, so he must dodge his own truth when in the public eye. This dual life titillates him, irritates him, almost exhausts him. Eventually his personal bubble bursts when his truth comes out in the open and he finds himself stripped of his dignity and privacy. The show handles this subject with utmost sensitivity and clarity.
7. Please Like Me
If you’re tired of your regular dose of American sitcoms and thrillers, maybe it’s time you made a switch. How about adding a little Australian pop to the mix? Please Like Me is a show about Josh and his exploration of his sexuality.
Josh’s girlfriend must break up with him because she knows he is gay; he on the other hand is as uninformed as could be. Josh is sweet, gullible, and has something about him that will make you want to love him.
The show is a slow exploration of a young adult’s sexuality; we are caught in rapture by how he comes to terms with who he really is. The show’s sensitive portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community is refreshing and enduring.
8. Schitt’s Creek
Schitt’s Creek is all about inclusivity and diversity, and here’s how. The show features a family of four – Johnny Rose, his wife, and their two kids. The proper, rich family gets a surprise visit from the revenue department of the government; turns out they’re losing all their money because of their manager and must relocate to Schitt’s Creek while they get back on their feet. What follows is the antics of this family in a town that does not welcome them.
Conceptualised by the real-life father-son duo Eugene Levy and Dan Levy, the show features a holistic, diverse character group. The TV industry is no stranger to ageism, yet the show swimmingly escapes that. The older members are as much a part of the story as the younger ones.
David Rose, Johnny’s son is pansexual (something not a lot of shows have touched upon earlier). His coming out process does not entail a tedious rejection, his family comes to terms with it quite swiftly. Even at the motel, he is not given a hard time for his sexuality even when he’s spotted with his boyfriend (his fancy background does bring him under fire though).
9. Modern Love Mumbai
6 different tales of love, tied together by one city – Modern Love Mumbai is not a show, it’s a journey. With a splendid cast that fits like a glove, the show digs into the many ways people love.
It questions why love is questioned at all. Why can love not go beyond age, race, sex, and every other boundary the world imposes on us?
From married heterosexual couples trying to keep the flame of their love going, to the heart-touching love story of two men who yearn for each other, this show has many dimensions. The show goes one step ahead in celebrating diversity. Alankrita Srivastava’s story about a young man falling in love with a much older woman has been portrayed in a magical way. If you’re not sure why we’re going gaga over this show, maybe watch it and prove us wrong?
Imagine a show about trans women. Now set it in 1980s New York.; Now imagine those women to be Black. What you now have is the perfect recipe for a mind-boggling show. Pose is a revolution of a show, if not more. It not only represents the lives of queer women wading through ballrooms, trying to be accepted for who they are; it also has transgender actors in regular roles.
Taking a diversion from notorious, misinformed interpretations of the LGBTQ+ community, Pose invokes a real, unadorned but beautiful image of trans women in a largely male-dominated industry.
The outsider in the story is a young, straight, white male. For a change, the queer members don’t have to fit in. They define the normal, and others must alter themselves to become a part of it. The show not only questions the ostracization of queer women of colour from American society, it also fumbles with it.
Pop culture represents diversity in many ways, but it rarely celebrates it the way it deserves to be celebrated. Rarely do we come across a show, a movie, or a book where the ‘not-so-normal’ characters are given the space they need. They are either sites of sympathy or humour. But, there is a budding change in the way we identify diversity now.
The world is moving towards acceptance, and so is the culture. Whether representation affects reality, or otherwise, there is a change, and we are here for it.
You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities.Join now.