If one were to rank all the major streaming services by queerness, Amazon Prime Video would be a pretty tough one to pin down.
On the one hand, you have to give credit where credit is due: One of the service’s very first stabs at original programming was “Transparent,” which in turn was one of the first shows to star a trans main character. That show now has a lot of baggage (the fact that the trans woman at its center was played by a cis man, and the fact that that man — Jeffrey Tambor — was fired after sexual harassment allegations is, put mildly, the worst), but it’s hard to its understate historical significance.
Beyond the thorny topic of “Transparent,” Prime Video does have a good track record of releasing shows with LGBTQ characters and centering their narratives on queer themes; in particular, many of their shows focus on queer women, refreshingly avoiding the centering of gay men that defined queer TV for decades. This spring, the streamer dropped a phenomenal limited series retelling of David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers,” starring Rachel Weisz as twin lesbian gynecologists.
The problem, though, is Amazon often doesn’t give these shows the support that they deserve. “A League of Their Own” — a reimagining of the beloved Penny Marshall film that fearlessly tackled the queer themes that could only remain subtext in the original — made headlines earlier this year when it got renewed for an insultingly short four-episode second and final season, and its creators criticized the company for failing to support shows aimed at women and lesbian audiences. Then, said second season order was reversed, leaving the story of the Peaches unfinished permanently.
Other excellent queer-friendly shows like “The Wilds” similarly got their runs cut without a chance of a conclusion. In October last year, the company’s Amazon Freevee free streaming division dropped “High School,” a tender and lovely coming-of-age show inspired by the lives of gay music icons Tegan and Sara. It was one of the best new series on the service, but there’s been no word of a second season since.
Yes, there’s some bitterness to this list, which is full of overlooked gems that haven’t gotten the chance they deserve. But that doesn’t mean that Amazon’s a dead zone for queer content. For one, many shows aimed at more general audiences still have some great queer storylines within them; look to “Harlem,” for example. And there are great legacy titles available on Freevee like “Desperate Housewives” that have their gay appeal. There’s plenty of queerness to enjoy in Amazon’s library, if you can find the right titles.
Here’s a list of the best and most queer TV shows and movies streaming Amazon Prime Video. Films are listed before TV, and entries are sorted in alphabetical order.
[Editor’s note: This list was first published in May 2023 and has since been updated.]
With editorial contributions by Jude Dry.
A crowd-pleaser at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, “Cassandro” features Gael García Bernal in one of his all-time best roles as the titular American-born Mexican luchador, whose feminine presentation caused him to become one of the biggest stars in the country’s wrestling scene. Featuring a solid ensemble that includes Roberta Colindrez, Raúl Castillo, and Bad Bunny himself, “Cassandro” is smart about examining the homophobia inherent in the wrestling world, but director Roger Ross Williams is careful to let the film feel joyous as well. And Bernal, always solid, is at his most charismatic and lovable, making Cassandro a figure that you can’t help but root for. —WC
“Red, White, and Royal Blue”
Adapted from the popular romance novel by Casey McQuiston, “Red, White, and Royal Blue” is not what one would necessarily call a good film. Matthew Lopez’s feature directorial debut about the love affair between the Prince of England (Nicholas Galitzine) and the son of the U.S. president (Taylor Zakhar Perez) is effectively a big-budget fanfiction, something Perez himself has admitted proudly. Your mileage on that, and the film’s tendency to prioritize good vibes over a real dramatic arc, may vary. That said, the book and the film have a legion of devoted fans who adore the classic enemies-to-lovers romance between its leads, and there’s a certain mindless wish-fulfillment appeal to the movie that makes it a decent rainy day watch. And if nothing else, Uma Thurman plays a Southern-accented president who instructs her bisexual son to go on Truvada, which is probably the gayest thing in any Prime Video movie. —WC
“Banana Fish” (2018)
The gay mobster anime drama of your dreams, “Banana Fish” adapts a classic 1985 manga by artist Akimi Yoshida. That original work was marketed towards young teen girls, but audiences of any age or demographic can appreciate the story of Ash Lynx, a New York City street punk who gets entangled in a criminal conspiracy involving the titular drug, which has the power to brainwash its users. The core of the series is Ash’s relationship with Japanese photographer assistant Eiji Okumura, and although their increasingly intense connection never fully crosses over into a full romance, it’s tinged with so much homoeroticism that you’d have to willfully ignore it to not clock “Banana Fish” as gay. The 24-episode anime version of the story features excellent action from animation studio MAPPA, but it’s the bond between Ash and Eiji, and their tragic love story, that makes it linger in the mind. —WC
Rachel Weisz has established herself as a lesbian (or at least lesbian adjacent) icon already, via her performances in movies like “Disobedience” and “The Favourite.” But in Alice Birch’s daring reimagining of David Croenenberg’s “Dead Ringers,” the great actor plays not just one sapphic part, but two. As both Beverly and Elliot, the twin sister gynecologists with a deeply unhealthy bond, she’s terrific, imbuing the complex women with layers that make them fascinating and empathetic, even as both spiral out of control. Many remakes try to gender swap and queer their original texts, but few do it with as much nuance as “Dead Ringers,” which lets these lesbian versions of the Mantle twins be just as gloriously messy and complicated as their original male counterparts. —WC
“Desperate Housewives” (2004-2012)
Yes, it’s primarily a series about four straight women. But even when “Desperate Housewives” wasn’t gay, it was gay. It was so gay that the cast list — Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria — reads like the presenter list at a GLAAD award ceremony. It was so gay that the guiding principle behind every episode was seemingly,” What would be the campiest thing that could possibly happen?” It was so gay that every episode was named after a Stephen Sondheim song. Marc Cherry’s sitcom/soap opera parody has a queer appeal that’s impossible to deny, and eventually introduces real queer characters starting with Bree’s (Marcia Cross) closeted son Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom). In most shows, coming-out stories can be a bit sappy; here, Andrew is a monster who crashes his car into an old woman and kills her, gets his mom to cover it up, sues his mom for abuse in order to emancipate himself, and sleeps with his mom’s boyfriend when the attempt fails. Really it’s the chaotic gay representation that the community deserves. —WC
“Downton Abbey” (2010-2015; 2019; 2022)
In the often chummy ensemble of Julian Fellowes’ popular period piece soap opera about the Crowley English estate, one of the most multifaceted and memorable characters is Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier), a footman and butler. Social-climbing, scheming, and cruel, Thomas causes the majority of the issues that befoul the servants and is an expert at getting away with his worst deeds. But Thomas also has a hidden soft side, and the show eventually digs into the pain he experiences as a closeted gay man in the 1910s. Thomas’ sexuality is never used to explain or excuse his behavior, instead acting as a dimension that keeps him from reaching moustache-twirling levels of deviousness. And although he never quite loses his capacity for villainy, Thomas eventually gets a happy ending in the show’s sequel films, where he finds romance with an actor played by Dominic West, because “Downton Abbey” supports gay rights and gay wrongs. —WC
There are a ton of shows about women (often in a group of four) navigating careers, romance, and friendships: “Girlfriends,” “Sex and the City,” “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” “Run the World,” and so on. Refreshingly, modern iterations on that classic formula have made room for queer women in the foursome, and Amazon’s “Harlem” goes as far as to make half of its ensemble gay. Tracy Oliver’s two-season dramedy about four friends living in the titular neighborhood features out-and-proud tech exec Tye (Jerrie Johnson), while fashion designer Quinn (Grace Byers) begins exploring her own queer identity as the show progresses. —WC
You don’t get much gayer than a show based on a memoir from gay indie pop icons Tegan and Sara, adapted for the screen by “But I’m a Cheerleader” star Clea DuVall. And the lovely, earnest “High School” delivers all of the wistful gay longing anyone can possibly want, following twins Tegan and Sara (played by TikTok stars and acting newcomers Railey and Seazynn Gilliland) as they come into their sexualities while growing up in late ’90s Alberta.
The show takes an uncommonly patient approach to its leads’ journeys with their queerness; Sara is a bit more comfortable and has a girlfriend, while Tegan is still confused about her feelings for her best friend. By the end of the first season, neither of them are out to anyone, much less each other, and their struggles to understand their sibling even as they go through many of the same problems makes for one of TV’s most brutually realistic portrayals of queer adolescence. But the show’s not all doom and gloom; even as Tegan and Sara push and pull each other away, they find connection through their mutal love for music, and the joy that radiates from their clumsy first steps to start a band lets you know that these kids are gonna be okay. —WC
“A League of Their Own”
Co-created by Will Graham and star Abbi Jacobson, Prime’s “A League of Their Own” serialization is a bit of a curveball: the sort of offbeat IP recycling you don’t see making it over home plate until you’re on your feet and screaming in the stands. When the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League allows women to hit the dirt for the first time in the 1940s, a talented catcher (Jacobson) puts down the burdens of being a housewife to become a Rockford Peach and explore her identity. The series famously inspired the real Maybelle Blair, one of the players who inspired the original 1992 film who consulted on the TV show, to come out publicly at age 95. —AF
Tig Notaro is a singular comedic presence, and the sadly short-lived “One Mississippi” is the best extension of her work beyond the world of stand-up. A collaboration between Notaro and “Jennifer’s Body” screenwriter Diablo Cody, the dramedy stars the comedian as Tig Bavaro, a radio host who moves back to St. Louis after her mother gets taken off life support. In the process, she reconnects with brother Remy (Noah Harpster) and stepfather Bill (John Rothman), and encounters difficulties with her girlfriend Brooke (Casey Wilson).
The sharply observed, gently empathetic series was the unfortunate victim of an early cancelation after Season 2, and was briefly taken off the service by producer FXP (a Disney division), but has since come back and is available for anyone to experience its understated power. —WC
Perhaps the ultimate comfort watch, “Schitt’s Creek” famously was a world where homophobia didn’t exist, and the gay characters were free to be as cuddly and as messy as their straight counterparts. Pansexual David (played by series co-creator Dan Levy) was introduced in Season 1 as a vapid, pampered prince: one who slowly softened over the course of the series as he and his rich family fell from grace and were forced to reside in the motel of the titular town. But he didn’t fully grow until the introduction of Patrick (Noah Reid), his straitlaiced business partner, and the romance between the two grew into the show’s emotional core. And even going past Patrick and David’s romance though, many of the non-gay characters still have a strong queer appeal; “A Little Bit Alexis,” anyone? —WC
Highbrow, it is not. But every now and then we all need something to half-watch while folding laundry, though “Tampa Baes” may have you dropping your socks to gape aghast at the messiness of these Florida lesbians. Outside of the big hits like “Drag Race” and “Queer Eye,” there are surprisingly few LGBTQ reality shows, and far fewer about lesbians. So when one comes along, we watch, however painful. Set — where else? — in Tampa, this docuseries follows a group of “friends,” many of them travel nurses, who think they run the Tampa lesbian scene. With two dueling power couples vying for top slot, and its very own Florida-style Snookie, it’s long on clique drama and light on hookups. But good luck looking away from the train wreck. —JD
While “Girls” and “Looking” are having their Gen-Z revival, it’s only a matter of time before younger audiences rediscover the muddled genius of “Transparent.” Certainly, the show needs to be re-evaluated in the context of Jeffrey Tambor’s casting and sexual assault allegations. But Joey Soloway’s arresting Jewish family comedy was hugely influential in its popularity at the time (it first premiered in 2014 and was Prime TV’s first hit), and it told entertaining trans stories in a nuanced and wide-ranging way that hasn’t been replicated since. Soloway employed trans people above and below the line, giving big breaks to Trace Lysette and Alexandra Billings and directors Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker. Let the re-watching begin. —JD
“A Very English Scandal”
Written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Stephen Frears, this three-part historical drama turns one of England’s lesser-known political scandals into a juicy and poignant high-stakes comedic drama. Based on the book by John Preston and set throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, the limited series stars Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe, a Liberal MP who will stop at nothing to hide his relationship with Norman Josiffe, played by the always-excellent Ben Whishaw. Crucially, the show doesn’t solely focus on the scandal bit, spending most of the first episode establishing their love affair with tenderness and joy. It’s necessary to set up the ugliness that follows, but more importantly, to show that even in the shadows of the past, people were living full queer lives as best as they could. —JD
If your dream show is a “Lord of the Flies” riff where teenage girls get stranded in the wilderness and struggle to survive and there’s also lesbians in it, you’re almost certainly watching “Yellowjackets” right now. But you should also give “The Wilds,” a show that premiered on Prime Video almost a year before its Showtime counterpart, its flowers.
Created by Sarah Streicher, the two season drama focuses on a group of teenagers attending a women’s empowerment retreat, only to crash on a deserted island and form their own mini-society. What they don’t know is that being watched by a deranged social scientist using their trauma as data for an experiment about whether men or women are the superior gender (yeah, it doesn’t make a ton of sense in the show, either).
“The Wilds” isn’t as flashy or filled with big names like “Yellowjackets,” and it ends in an exasperating cliffhanger before it was canceled. But it’s still an enjoyable mix of gritty suvival drama with soap opera melodrama, held together by a strong cast of actors. Particularly good are Mia Healey and Erana James as Shelby and Toni, two polar-opposites who form a tempermental and very sweet romance. —WC
“Will & Grace”
One of the earliest hit shows to center around gay characters, “Will & Grace” focused on the intense, more than a little co-dependent friendship between gay lawyer Will (Eric McCormack) and straight interior decorator Grace (Debra Messing). Although the show has been dinged in recent years for the perceived stereotyping of its gay characters — especially Sean Hayes’ bed-hopping queen Jack — its original eight-season run holds up as a fun, sharply written sitcom and one of the first of its kind to give gay characters the full spotlight they deserve. —WC
Created by Gloria Calderón Kellett, “With Love” has a similar uplifting, comforting appeal as her acclaimed Netflix remake of “One Day at a Time.” The romantic comedy series’ revolves around Lily and Mark Diaz (Emeraude Toubia and Mark Indelicato), two close siblings as they navigate romance and their tight-knit family during the holidays. For Jorge, his main arc concerns his relationship with boyfriend Henry (Vincent Rodriguez III), and the series also makes time for the developing connection between the sibling pair’s trans cousin Sol (Isis King) and plastic surgeon Miles (Todd Grinnell). —WC