As a queer media critic, I've watched a lot of web series. As just your regular fan of lesbian storylines, I've watched many more. Some of my favorites never get more than a few hundred views while others fill convention rooms with excited adolescent girls. In any case, one thing is obvious: They're not going away anytime soon.
To put it simply: Queer women are hungry for more queer content. That's always been the case, but around 2008—with the release of web series like B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye, Anyone But Me, and 3Way—it seemed to finally click that we could expect to find this content online, and that we could expect it to be good.
We could also expect, and we continue to expect, a certain level of accountability within these web series that Hollywood has largely been able to dodge. In 2016, the year of Bury Your Gays, it's refreshing to see series creators—most often queer women themselves—eschew this trope by refusing to kill off their queer female leads.
Being independent and on the web, rather than on television, gives these artists more control. I've spoken to creators who have told me they could've worked with bigger budgets if they asked for or accepted more outside funds, but didn't so they could retain complete control of their projects. Some of these same creators have also told me the reason they took to the web to begin with is because their series wouldn't fly on network television, where diversity—at almost all levels—is still lacking.
But these series are absolutely flying with fans online and in the post-Carmilla (the vampire web series that became an internet phenomenon) era. With a growing number of web series available to viewers, it can be hard to pick which ones to watch next. To make things easier on you, here are seven queer web series, a mix of comedies and dramas from the US, Canada, Spain, and Italy that are worth your time.
This Chicago-based comedy follows best friends Marlo and Addy as they navigate their early 20s and high femme girlfriends. Early on in the series, they're both left single when the two women they had been dating, Trina and Maxine (played by the same actresses who play Marlo and Addy), leave them for each other. It's OK, though, because viewers will know Marlo and Addy belong together by the end of the first episode—but will they (especially the particularly oblivious Marlo...)?
This is definitely a quirky show, with episodes dedicated to each girl watching/reacting to Blue Is the Warmest Color and another dedicated to Marlo's UTI. The series gets extra points for including other interesting queer characters, including a small cameo from a sassy devil.
We're back in Chicago with Full Out, but this time, it's all about the drama. Black Swan left us hungry for queer ballerinas, and this web series delivers the goods. Full Out follows the story of Claire, a prodigy who's getting a second chance at fame after coming back from a bad injury. She's had to settle for making her comeback through a smaller dance company belonging to Xan, a former mentor who seems to thrive on playing mind games with her dancers. This includes pitting Claire up against fellow queer dancer Taylor for the same part.
Taylor has a reputation for sleeping with her colleagues and certainly has her sights set on Claire. But Claire's not out, and, more important, she already has a partner, Max (Carmilla's Kaitlyn Alexander!). Still, she's not completely unaffected by Taylor. She has to decide, however, what matters most: the dancing or the girl?
It's Complicated is set entirely in Skye and Lance's home because they never actually go out (except for that one time Skye was checking out guys and girls in her neighborhood park, as every good bisexual awakening dictates), but it works because the queer comes to them.
Skye and Lance are platonic exes that have decided to continue living together until their lease is up in six months. That leaves a lot of time to deal with Skye's recent identity crisis—she discovered she also likes women after sleeping with a workmate but isn't quite sure how she feels about labels. Surprised at first, Lance ends up being the best source of support Skye could've hoped for. He's so game that he's willing to pretend he's gay until Skye finally manages to fess up to her work crush Alex that she does indeed live with her straight male ex. What could possibly go wrong, right?
LSB: The Series
This series has widely been referred to as "Italy's The L Word," and it manages to be even more dramatic. Just like The L Word, there are always new faces, goodbyes, and breakups, so be wary if you have attachment issues.
LSB: The Series has its own power couple (Tibetters, I give you Martlia), an Italian Shane, a Jenny/Dana hybrid and, weirdly, an endearing Alice/Tonya mashup who goes by Filomena. In non-L Word terms: The power couple is going through some troubles because one of them wants to be with a man, Nick sets about teaching baby dyke Benny the ways of lesbians and the two end up falling for each other, while Filomena—a bisexual, high-maintenance actress—brings comic relief to the show.
This Spanish comedy hits all the right notes even if the central storyline of a student falling for her tutor threw me at first. Look, if you were cool with Loving Annabelle (and let's face it, most of us were), the authority figure and age difference bars are much lower here, so just roll with it.
In Notas Aparte, Sara is the not-quite-18-yet stubborn teenager who needs help with her art history lessons. Her mom pays for Elena, an art major, to come over and give her daughter private lessons. But being able to spot a lesbian when she sees one, Elena decides to give Sara some queer lady advice instead. But first, Sara has to come around to accepting who she is, and she has to get a handle on her hot-for-teacher crush. Elena, however, has her own issues with boundaries, which further complicates the narrative.
This Canadian web series about retail workers features two lesbian relationships. Having not worked in a clothing store before, I'm going to assume everything that happens at Brinkerhoff & Coemans is par the course, and that this uttered line in particular is true: "Everyone's a lesbian. If they're not a lesbian, they're gay."
Well, no, not everyone's gay, but their super eager/nitpicking boss, Damien (a dead ringer for Darren Criss), is. But watching this series is all about shipping new girl Ella with the jaded Charlie, as well as waiting for two of the Britneys (there are three in total) to get their act together. All the while they have to be on the lookout for the corporate espionage efforts of enemy store Eternally 22.
If you're living in LA where just about everybody has a lesbian web series and you only find out you're gay in your late 20s, you just might be clueless. Well, Leslie is, but at least she has her equally misguided straight friends to help her navigate lesbian life in Lez Angeles.
The Leslie tackles the big gay issues of 2016: snapbacks that make you look like Harry Styles, straight girl crushes, going to a lesbian club alone, overwhelming sexts, and more. Don't feel too bad for Leslie, though—not all of us have a super cute neighbor who's clearly crushing on us. I'm pretty sure you'll all want to be the queer friends Leslie doesn't have after watching this show.
Follow Daniela Costa on Twitter.