There’s been some concern in this past year about how TV shows are taking the “Bury Your Gays” trope to a rather literal degree. In a strange coincidence, several other shows (The Walking Dead, Blindspot, Person of Interest) also killed off lesbian or bi characters, a move that brought massive fan hate and also a focus on how to present these characters better on TV. Sadly, we still have too many examples of the clichés of “butch” lesbians and such, rather than actually compelling characters you can believe in.
But there is still hope. Many shows continue to promote characters who are out and proud about it and don’t make it a major issue either. They run the gamut as well from top-notch and heroic ladies to some who aren’t exactly nice people. But they all showcase some great stuff, often getting into very sexy situations but also showing the realism and challenges of LGBT folks today. They showcase how there’s still hope for these type of characters and give them some nice new attention while serving as an example for others. Here are 15 of the best ladies who enjoy ladies on TV right now, and how they showcase there’s still hope and room to grow for such characters in the future.
Some SPOILERS for shows.
15 Max and Eleanor - Black Sails
You’d expect a pirate show set on Starz to feature some debauchery but it’s surprising how the females on the show are far more than eye candy. Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) is one of the many ladies of the island brothel and thus sleeping with men is a necessity for her job, Kennedy pulling off the various nude scenes with great flair. However, she’s drawn to Eleanor (Hannah New), who runs the local trading house, a bit of a refined woman in the rough setting. While Hannah has relationships with several men, she and Max have a few hot flings as well and it’s clear they see each other as equals, women trying to succeed in a man’s field. Neither is perfect as Eleanor can be a hypocrite and a tendency to hurt those close to her and Max can’t help but leap over others to get ahead. Yet, they still make a compelling pair with Max ending up running the brothel and soon in a relationship with famous pirate Anne Ponny (Clara Paget) whose lovely looks conceal a hardcore psychopath who puts most of the male pirates to shame. The guys may get the attention for the show, but these three ladies showcase how, in any time period, the female can be the deadlier (and hotter) of the species.
14 Margot Bishop - The Catch
Shonda Rhimes’ latest hit drama mainly focuses on the unique cat-and-mouse chase between ace investigator Alice and her boyfriend Ben, who turns out to be a master con artist fleecing Alice. Despite that, the two continue to be attracted to one another and clash amid various thefts and scams. Margot (Sonya Walger) is Ben’s con artist partner, the daughter of a powerful crime boss who should have inherited the business. But her dad didn’t think a woman was worthy of it so she left, Walger showing a refined presence that still comes off quite hot. It’s shown she and Ben have some “pleasure” with their business but the two met with Felicity (Shivani Ghai), who worked for their mysterious “Benefactor” who was basically threatening them with death to pull cons for cash. It soon became clear Margot and Felicity had a past as their banter at a dinner ends with them in bed together and Ben not only aware but not minding his partner with a woman. The “Benefactor” is Margot’s brother and Margot is a bit upset to find he’s sleeping with Felicity as well although Felicity points out she has no room to talk. They end up back in bed but it ends badly as Margot’s brother cold-bloodedly kills Felicity over information. Margot is rocked but continues to handle herself and it’s hinted her bisexuality is used in several of her scams. The show is taking a break before a new season but promises to amp up the sex appeal when it returns and Walger can no doubt bring more of Margot’s appeal to both sexes to scam some hearts and wallets.
13 Jeri Hograth - Jessica Jones
Carrie-Ann Moss’ character is a showcase for how being a ruthless witch is obvious no matter your sexuality. A top lawyer, Jeri is openly cheating on her wife with her own assistant, Pam, who she proposes to before even filing for divorce. While Wendy is naturally upset at Jeri’s actions, Pam can get cold as well, such as when she realizes Jeri took her to Wendy’s favorite restaurant just to rub this new relationship in her ex’s face. Wendy hits back by threatening to reveal Jeri’s cheating unless she got a good settlement in the divorce and Jeri hating to lose above all else. This pushed her to make the huge mistake of having mind-controlling Kilgrave let loose so he could “get Wendy to stop.” The sociopath decided the best way to do this was to have Wendy kill Jeri by literally cutting her a thousand times. Pam had to kill Wendy to stop her and was arrested and Jeri obviously shaken at how her selfishness ruined the two women she’d loved. While Moss plays the role cool and dominant (while still making a business suit look as hot as a skimpy dress), this promises to change her a bit in the new season and shows how keeping to a ruthless side in love ends badly no matter your sexual preference.
12 Nomi Marks - Sense8
The Wachowskis’ Netflix series can be a hard show to get into with its vast majority of characters and wild setups along with how they somehow are able to interact from around the world. Given how both siblings have transitioned, it should be no surprise that a key character is transgender herself. Nomi (Jamie Clayton) is a blogger living in San Francisco and the first scene has her getting hot and heavy with girlfriend Amanita (Freema Agyeman) in bed. A great scene is when they run into some lesbians at a party and when one slams Amanita on “dating a man,” Amanita threatens to punch her and Nomi is thrilled someone defended her like that. This showcases how the series tackles issues of the LGBT community other shows find too risky. When Nomi starts showing the unique mind powers of the other “sensates,” her homophobic mother uses it as the excuse for a doctor to give her an operation to “fix” her “son” despite Nomi’s pleas there’s nothing wrong with her. Luckily, Amanita is able to break her out as they go on a search for answers and while much of the show can be wild, Clayton’s fun performance as Nomi and her pride in not backing down from who she is gives the show real heart and shows that, for all the slams they can get at times, the Wachowskis are able to shine light on how real LGBT characters can feel.
11 Callie Torres - Grey’s Anatomy
Introduced in the second season of the long-running ABC hit, Callie (Sara Ramirez) was a busty gal who, to the surprise of many, fell for nerdy George and they were soon married. It ended after George cheated on her with Izzie and Callie bouncing around, including a few flings with character Mark. She met up with Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), a fellow doctor and it wasn’t long before they were together and Callie comfortable with another woman. This led to backlash with her strict father cutting her off and the relationship had some ups and downs. During one breakup, Callie had another fling with Mark that got her pregnant, she and Arizona married to raise the child together. More bad stuff (Arizona losing her foot in a plane crash, child issues) soon led to Arizona cheating and despite an attempt to make it work, the two divorced. Callie has kept to women, although a blow was realizing her new girlfriend Penny (Samantha Sloyan) was the doctor partly responsible for killing Meredith’s husband. They kept together, seemingly happy but when Penny got a job in New York, Callie couldn’t be away from her daughter and they broke up. So now Callie is single but no doubt still strong and able to find new love and Ramirez’s great performance is a reason the character is so beloved among fans of the show.
10 Amy and Karma - Faking It
It can be confusing for some teens to figure out their sexuality and MTV’s comedy pushes that majorly. At first, it works off a major joke: Amy (Rita Volk) and Karma (Katie Stevens) are best friends who feel ignored at their high school, not fitting in and wanting attention. They get their chance when they’re invited to a party only to find out it’s to launch a campaign to crown them Homecoming Queens as everyone assumes they’re a couple. Instead of correcting them, the duo decides to use that and pretend to be gay to everyone (even their families) in order to become popular. While some LGBT folks were upset at the premise, it took a turn when the two kiss before their classmates…and Amy realizes she actually has feelings for Karma. The series continues to work this satire while also showcasing the viewpoints of gay and bi teens today as both girls sleep with guys yet also serious feelings for women as well, Amy finally stating she prefers girls more. They’ve yet to truly give in to each other (despite both taking part in a short-lived threesome) but the way they showcase the struggle of teens today trying to fit in makes the show shine. While MTV announced its just wrapped third season was the last, buzz is a possible movie to wrap things up and it still stands as a show that nicely showcased how “faking” your sexuality can be a nice journey to discovering it for real.
9 Ruby - Once Upon a Time
One of the first genius moves of the ABC fairy tale drama was how the former Little Red Riding Hood was a rather promiscuous waitress. Then came the revelation that Red was actually the Wolf, transforming by magic into a wolf as she tried to control it. The show has always hinted at some lesbian overtones (mostly fans eager to have Emma and Regina as a couple) and the character of Mulan (Jamie Chung) clearly having feelings for Sleeping Beauty. Ruby vanished from the show in season three (due to Meghan Ory starring on the short-lived Intelligence) but returned this year with her absence covered by Ruby leaving Storybrooke to explore other lands. Feeling lost, Ruby ran into a grown-up Dorothy Gale in Oz and clearly felt something unique for her. She couldn’t face up to it herself until Dorothy was put under a sleeping curse and Ruby broke it with true love’s kiss. While it felt a bit out of nowhere to some fans, others enjoyed the series exploring this theme and Ory was terrific in the role. It’s possible the two might return in the upcoming season to continue their work and Ory rewarded fans of the show wanting one LGBT hero among these characters with a sexy wolf one.
8 Eretria - The Shannara Chronicles
MTV’s adaptation of Terry Brooks’ epic fantasy series has been slammed by some as basically a “teenage Game of Thrones” but has had enough success to earn a second season. Set in a far future Earth that’s transformed into a world of magic, elves and demons, the show focuses on a band of heroes trying to stop an ancient evil from rising. Eretria (Ivana Baquero) is a human thief who plays the classic “set up to be rescued just to rob a guy” ploy on the main hero to steal some gems. In it for herself, she’s force to go along the main quest and slowly learning to trust other people. At first, her claims of liking girls as well as guys appeared to be one of her usual mind games to throw people off, coming onto elf Amberle (Poppy Drayton) when both are sharing a bath. However, while trapped in the ancient ruins of a high school, she ran into a crazy ex-girlfriend that showed she really does swing both ways. While it wasn’t touched on much after that, the way the show is open on Eretria liking both sides has added more flavor to the character with Baquero nicely showing her as afraid of being close to anyone but helping the others despite herself. Fans are hopeful the second season gives more of a chance to explore it (not surprisingly, many are shipping Eretria and Amberle) and showing how this warrior lady is even hotter as the plays the field.
7 Cosima - Orphan Black
The power of Orphan is how Tatiana Maslany is absolutely genius in playing the roles of multiple clones, to the point that you honestly forget they’re all the same actress. One of the best from the start has been Cosima, the quirky scientist looking into their origins, notable for her braided hair, glasses and good humor that comes off truly adorkable. At first, she was drawn to scientist Delphine (Evelyn Brochu) because she suspected (correctly) that Delphine was her “monitor” for the company that created the clones. However, the two soon fell in love for real, something Cosima wasn’t really ready for as relating to people was never her strong suit. They had ups and downs, a break-up during which Cosima had a steamy relationship with the lovely Shay (Ksenia Solo) that ended when Cosima realized she was dying of a clone virus. After Delphine was believed dead, Cosima lost it but the two reunited at last in the fourth season finale. It’s not the only lady loving for Maslany on the show (her Sarah had a hot threesome at a bar) but Cosima remains one of the most beloved of the “Clone Club” for her nice style and how even those with the same genes can find their hearts going to the other sex.
6 Stef and Lena - The Fosters
Hailed by critics for its insightful take on a modern family, the ABC Family/Freeform series focuses on Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Shaurn), an interracial married couple who raise their extended family, made up of both natural kids and adopted ones. Flashbacks show cop Stef was married to a man once but when she met Lena, realized how she preferred women more and still has her ex-husband (and current police partner) not understanding what changed. The series is frank on talk of race and sexual direction but not lecturing and Stef and Lena are showed as a fun married couple, regardless of their sexuality. They can bicker and fight, Lena tempted by a younger woman but realizing she loves Stef more when the latter faces a battle with cancer. They can also keep frisky with some scenes that come off wonderfully heartfelt rather than exploitive. The show keeps its power (a recent episode involving a school shooting) and the leads prove that being a parent is rough no matter your sexuality and yet can look like two very hot mommas in their own right.
5 Alex Vause - Orange Is the New Black
From the beginning, Netflix’s acclaimed hit has shown the way women in prison can gravitate toward each other for companionship. Alex is a bit different as she was already out and wild when she met Piper (Taylor Schilling) and soon got her into bed…despite the fact Alex was already dating another woman. Laura Prepon looks fantastic in the role with her black hair, glasses, tattoo and no shame showing off her body in various scenes. She does have the habit of stabbing those she trusts in the back (the reason Piper is in jail in the first place) and that selfishness can work against her in various times. She and Piper are basically a drug they can’t quit despite their ups and downs and when they get together, it’s the steamiest parts of the entire series. Alex keeps getting into trouble and is hardly what one might call a good person yet the way she gladly wears her love of the ladies on her sleeve (along with the tattoos) endears you and Prepon continues to be one of the best parts of the show to showcase how the bad girls who love other girls can be so damn hot.
4 Emily Fields - Pretty Little Liars
PLL has been notable as a wild show with its multiple mysteries and often insane situations. But Shay Mitchell’s growth as Emily is a showcase for how the series offers real heart as well. Emily starts off the show as a swimmer for her school who soon clicks with Maya (Bianca Lawson) a fellow student. Emily is afraid of these feelings and moves to date Toby but eventually comes to accept Maya and they’re in a relationship. Her mother doesn’t take her coming out very well, however and it leads to some major drama, especially when Maya is killed. Emily soon is in a feud with swimmer Paige (Lindsey Shaw) that turns to a relationship, the two having a great time together with some daring stuff like skinny-dipping. They eventually break up and the recent “time jump” in the series has Emily single but still handling herself and proud of being out and the way her friends accept it shows their great bond. That Mitchell is quite hot in the role helps but still shows that amid its insane storylines, PLL can offer some good character moves.
3 Sara Lance - Legends of Tomorrow
Sara Lance had been mentioned in the first season of Arrow as the “bad sister” who slept with her sister’s boyfriend and then killed in a sinking. She showed up in season 2 as the Black Canary, trained by assassins to be a superb fighter and Caity Lotz was terrific showing her amazing skills in a fight while looking hot in leather. Already tied to Oliver Queen, a big twist was her kissing Nyssa (Katrina Law), a League member and the two having a relationship. Sara really won fans over so there was serious backlash when she was killed off in the season three premiere. It drove Laurel to become a new Canary but fans still hated the move so the producers found a way to resurrect Sara. Now on the spin-off Legends, Sara is handling her dark past with great style thanks to how hot Lotz looks. She’s gotten plots such as when Sara meets a pretty nurse in the 1950s and encouraging her to come out with some nice kisses as well as an attraction to Captain Cold. Looking gorgeous as well as able to kick the ass of anyone in front of her, Sara’s bisexuality remains a good part of her character and boosts her up as a heroine in any right.
2 Clarke - The 100
It’s true that The 100 took a lot of the brunt of fans this year for being the biggest among the “bury your gays” shows. Due to scheduling conflicts with Fear the Walking Dead, Alcyia Debnam-Carey was only able to reprise her role as warrior Lexa for a handful of episodes. Fans were intrigued by how main character Clarke (Eliza Taylor) was taking on a stronger role, including a scene with her having a fling with another woman. After some struggles, Clarke and Lexa finally made love…only for Lexa to get shot and die right afterward. While fans were outraged, they’ve stuck by the show with Clarke continuing to showcase her strength as a bi character, still loving Lexa and doing her best to handle the harsh situations of this future Earth (such as how many, including her own mother, have been brainwashed by the evil artificial intelligence that nuked the planet in the first place). The fan hate has been softened by the season finale where, in a virtual reality, Clarke and Lexa got to say goodbye and Lexa having the heroic sacrifice fans wanted in the first place. The show continues to intrigue with its amazing plot lines and Taylor’s wonderful performance, still attractive despite the mud and grime and one hopes she finds love again with either sex while continuing to be a fantastic heroine.
1 Waverly Earp and Nicole Naught - Wynonna Earp
Amazing as it sounds, the most heartfelt, authentic and wonderful lesbian love story of this TV season is playing on a Syfy series involving demons of the Old West. The backstory is that Wyatt Earp’s descendants have had to battle demons in a small town and Wynonna (Melanie Scorfano) is the latest “Heir” to handle them with a mystical pistol. Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) is Wynonna’s younger sister who’s wanted to be part of the legacy for a while and helps sis out with intel while working as a bartender. The moment Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell), a deputy, enters the bar, Waverly is obviously smitten and it’s clear Nicole is interested as well. They spend a few episodes dancing around the issue with a funny bit where they have a conversation Waverly thinks is about their attraction while Nicole is concerned about the strange goings-on in the town.
It finally comes to Waverly confronting Nicole in her office for a kissing binge as they finally admit their feelings. They have to hide it a bit from Wynonna for some fun scenes but clearly getting on well. The season finale seemed to poke fun at the “kill the gays” bit when Nicole was shot, only to reveal she had a bulletproof vest on. This led to the two admitting their love and Wynonna supportive of it. The show promises to continue this romance in the second season as both actresses are terrific selling it all and providing television with a wonderful lesbian romance well worth following.