8 TV shows to watch, Pride Month 2022: ‘Queer as Folk,’ more – Los Angeles Times

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Guides to Pride can be a complicated endeavor these days, as the annual celebration of LGBTQ+ identity now regularly involves the very forces — corporations, cops — it once stood against. And don’t even get us started on our mixed feelings about celebrating queer stories from Hollywood networks and studios that too often waver when their courtship of LGBTQ+ audiences becomes politically inconvenient.

And yet. At a moment when LGBTQ+ people and their civil rights are under fire from conservative groups and right-wing politicians, it’s important to be reminded of our vibrant presence in every nook and cranny of society, real and fictional, past and present. So we’ve pulled together a list of eight new TV series — or returning TV series with new seasons — to catch up with this Pride Month.

After all, the old saying never really gets old: We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.

‘The Book of Queer’

A man saluting in front of a flag next to a man in uniform seated behind a desk.

A scene from “The Book of Queer.”

(Trae Patton / Discovery+)

Discovery+ | 2022 | TV Series | Premieres Thursday

The most appropriate way to kick off Pride Month is with a celebration of LGBTQ+ history, honoring the heroes who likely never imagined there would be a monthlong explosion of rainbow merchandise and corporate statements. With the help of queer historians and experts, “The Book of Queer” aims to shed light on historical figures whose contributions have been overlooked, or their queer identities erased, by mainstream society. Narrated by queer icons and featuring an entirely LGBTQ+ ensemble cast, the five-episode series will include stories about Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin, Josephine Baker, Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and more. As conservative lawmakers across the nation attempt to ban educators from even acknowledging the existence of queer and trans people, this series, infusing facts with comedy and musical fun, is a vital reminder that LGBTQ+ people have existed throughout history. —Tracy Brown

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‘Dead End: Paranormal Park’

A group hug between an animated boy, demon, pug and girl

Barney (voiced by Zach Barack), from left, Courtney (Emily Osment), Pugsley (Alex Brightman) and Norma (Kody Kavitha) in “Dead End: Paranormal Park.”

(Netflix)

Netflix | 2022 | TV Series | Premieres June 16

Fans of queer cartoons should make sure to clear their schedules for the arrival of “Dead End: Paranormal Park.” The animated horror-comedy, based on creator Hamish Steele’s graphic novel series “DeadEndia,” follows trans teen Barney (voiced by Zach Barack) who gets a job at the local haunted theme park, where an encounter with a demon gives his dog, Pugsley (Alex Brightman), the ability to talk. The coming-of-age story will see Barney, along with his pal Norma (Kody Kavitha), encounter zombies, ghosts and other supernatural beings while also navigating family, identity and even crushes. The current political climate is especially hostile toward queer and trans youth, so an LGBTQ+-inclusive kids and family series in which a young trans protagonist (voiced by a trans actor) finds a space and friends that let him embrace his true self and laugh along the way cannot premiere soon enough. —Tracy Brown

‘First Kill’

Two girls cuddle in bed

Calliope (Imani Lewis), left, and Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook) are mortal enemies in love in “First Kill.”

(Netflix)

Netflix | 2022 | TV Series | Premieres June 10

If you’re dying for a dose of delicious supernatural queer teen angst, look no further than “First Kill.” Based on a short story by V.E. Schwab, the series puts a young lesbian twist on the classic forbidden romance between a vampire and a slayer. Teenage vampire Juliette Fairmont (Sarah Catherine Hook) has hit vamp adolescence and is finally expected to kill and feed on actual humans. Although she has been pushing back against this rite of passage for as long as possible, Jules can’t help but be drawn to her crush, Calliope Burns (Imani Lewis). Cal, a recent transfer student, has a secret of her own: She’s the youngest daughter of a family of monster hunters. Cal is eager to prove that she can take down a demon by herself, but she quickly discovers that killing Juliette is as impossible as denying her feelings for her. The series should appeal to anyone who thought “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Twilight” would have been better if they were gay. —Tracy Brown

‘Gentleman Jack’

Two women about to kiss

Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle), left, and Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) in “Gentleman Jack.”

(Aimee Spinks / BBC / Lookout Point / HBO)

HBO Max | 2019 | TV Series | Two seasons
TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under 17)

Based on the experiences of a landowning Yorkshire woman of the 19th century, “Gentleman Jack” stars Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, often called “the first modern lesbian” for the intimate relationships with women she recorded in her queer-coded diaries. Along with my beloved “Dickinson” (Apple TV+), the series — which just concluded its second season — offers a richly detailed portrait of the ways that queer people managed to live, and love, long before there were modern terms for our sexuality or gender identity. Plus, Anne’s sheer, decisive capable-ness as a business-minded lesbian in a patriarchal society might be the “Move. I’m gay” meme of Georgian England. —Matt Brennan

‘Motherland: Fort Salem’

Two women meeting in the dark

Raelle (Taylor Hickson), left, and Scylla (Amalia Holm) in “Motherland: Fort Salem.”

(Jeff Petry / Freeform)

Hulu | 2020 | TV Series | Two seasons | Third season premieres June 21 on Freeform
TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under 14)

The ambitious “Motherland: Fort Salem” is set in an alternate U.S. where witches ended the persecution of the Salem witch trials by agreeing to be conscripted into the military. The series follows Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson), Tally Craven (Jessica Sutton) and Abigail Bellweather (Ashley Nicole Williams), a trio of witches who initially clash but grow close as they train as a combat unit. The “just enough” world building and unique rules of magic open the doors to questions the show doesn’t always answer, but the appeal of the series really stems from the characters and their relationships. The central romance of the show is between Raelle and a fellow student named Scylla (Amalia Holm), whose secrets bring drama to their relationship. “Motherland: Fort Salem” is a good guilty pleasure. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. —Tracy Brown

‘Queer as Folk’

Two men about to kiss

Noah (Johnny Sibilly), bottom, and Daddius (Chris Renfro) in “Queer as Folk.”

(Peacock)

Peacock | 2022 | TV Series | Premieres June 9
TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under 17)

The men, the sex and the city are hotter than Hades in Peacock’s multicultural, New Orleans-set remake of the pioneering soap, this time without the same over-reliance on white, cis men to propel the narrative. (Whether you see its depiction of a mass murder reminiscent of the Pulse nightclub shooting as a strained device or an apt reflection of current affairs and LGBTQ history is another matter.) Still, carving out new terrain by moving Babylon to Frenchmen Street, and queer Southerners — especially queer people of color — to the foreground, this “Queer as Folk” conjures its share of carnal pleasures. As Brodie’s (Devin Way) move home upends the lives of his ex (Johnny Sibilly) and a talented young drag artist (Fin Argus), you can have your bourbon ginger and drink it too. As for the rest, painfully earnest and more than a little pained do not read, in this particular political moment, as terribly far off the mark. —Matt Brennan

‘This Is Going to Hurt’

A man with bloody gloves and shirt

Ben Whishaw as Adam Kay in “This Is Going to Hurt.”

(Anika Molnar / Sister Pictures / BBC / AMC)

AMC+ | 2022 | TV Series | Premieres Thursday

In the annals of the medium’s brilliant, dissolute medical professionals (Gregory House, Jackie Peyton), few have had quite so harrowing a job as Adam (Ben Whishaw), the blood-splotched National Health Service OB-GYN of “This Is Going to Hurt.” The audacious black comedy, based on the memoir by Adam Kay, finds its workaholic protagonist at the center of a bureaucratic, medical and personal Maelstrom, each indignity matched by a wry comment to the viewer (or to his boyfriend at home) and, ultimately, by Adam’s own desperation. Anchored by what may be Whishaw’s finest screen performance, equal parts bruising and bruised, the series turns a very recognizable queer life into the kind of television straight people typically get to carry: Adam is the gay antihero we deserve. —Matt Brennan

‘The Umbrella Academy’

A man and woman walking down the street

Viktor Hargreeves (Elliot Page) and Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) in “The Umbrella Academy.”

(Netflix)

Netflix | 2019 | TV Series | Two seasons | Third season premieres June 22
TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under 17)

“Brothers & Sisters” with an adoptive set of mutant siblings, or perhaps a crime-of-the-century adventure from the perspective of time-traveling superheroes, “The Umbrella Academy,” at its best, is an indescribable alchemy of family, history and damaged adult children: in other words, a perfect metaphor for growing up queer in America. (I kid. Sort of.) Better yet, the long-awaited third season features Elliot Page’s character coming out as transgender. —Matt Brennan

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