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.
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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 several library titles on the streamer are all-time queer classics, like the ravishing Park Chan-wook romance “The Handmaiden” or the trans buddy comedy “Tangerine.”
Here’s a list of some of the best and most queer TV shows and movies on 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.]
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