QUEER AS FOLK: ESSENTIAL MOVIE AND TV PICKS (PLUS "A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE" VARIETY PACK)
Here are films and TV shows I love or just need to be seen, whether they're queer or just queer adjacent.
THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT
THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VAN KANT --so, so many films by German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Toss a dart and start here.
BOYS DON'T CRY
THE BOYS IN THE BAND (1970) -- groundbreaking, then seen as embarrassing, then as amusing camp and now seen as groundbreaking again. Not really, but worth watching once (and certainly watch the original instead of the remake).
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (1979)
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
CAT PEOPLE (1942)
THE CELLULOID CLOSET
CHRIS & DON
CHUCK AND BUCK
CIRCUS OF BOOKS
COMMON THREADS: STORIES FROM THE QUILT
CRUMB -- maybe on a double bill w Treasure Island (1950)
DEAD POETS SOCIETY
DEATH IN VENICE
DOG DAY AFTERNOON
END OF THE CENTURY
FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!
FOR A LOST SOLDIER
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
FOX AND HIS FRIENDS -- so, so many films by German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Toss a dart and start here. Querelle, however, is a slog.
GODS AND MONSTERS
GOD'S OWN COUNTRY
HAIRSPRAY (1988) -- Director John Waters is always fun. He has more outrageous films worth seeing (Female Trouble et al) but none more subversive than this family friendly comedy with Divine as a housewife quoting Bob Dylan.
HAROLD AND MAUDE
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
THE HOURS AND TIMES
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE
THE INCREDIBLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF TWO GIRLS IN LOVE
LAURENCE ANYWAYS -- any movie by director Xavier Dolan is worth watching, like any movie by Rainer Warner Fassbinder or Francois Ozon. This movie about a man transitioning is his masterpiece (so far), but I Killed My Mother, Mommy, Matthias & Maxime...you can't go wrong with Dolan.
LAW OF DESIRE -- Almodovar! Start with Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.
THE LONG DAY CLOSES -- director Terence Davies has a string of memorable films. This one is a titch more hopeful than his equally brilliant, brutal Distant Voices, Still Lives and is def where to start.
MIDNIGHT COWBOY -- it has kind of an ugly attitude, not just towards gays. But the unspoken romantic love that Dustin Hoffman has for Jon Voight rescues this and keeps it from being just a scuzzy time capsule.
MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE
MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING
MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO
MY SUMMER OF LOVE
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDYS' REVENGE
PARIS IS BURNING (1991)
PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
A PLACE IN THE SUN
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
PORTRAIT OF JASON
PRICK UP YOUR EARS
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW -- but only if you can see it in a theater
A SINGLE MAN
SOME LIKE IT HOT
A STAR IS BORN (1954)
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK -- definitely watch this excellent doc rather than the well-intentioned feature film Milk. Or at least watch it first.
TOP GUN -- watch Quentin Tarantino on the gay subtext of Top Gun, one of the funniest things he ever wrote.
TREASURE ISLAND (1999) -- this has nothing to do with the Robert Louis Stevenson novel.
VELVET GOLDMINE -- Todd Haynes is a queer director, whether making something explicitly gay like Swoon and Poison or gay adjacent like Far From Heaven. Start here.
WATER DROPS ON BURNING ROCKS
THE WAY HE LOOKS
THE WEDDING BANQUET
WHAT'S OPERA, DOC?
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) -- NOT the Johnny Depp
WITHNAIL AND I
THE WIZARD OF OZ
WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
WORD IS OUT: STORIES OF SOME OF OUR LIVES
YOSSI & JAGGER
YOUR FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN
ESSENTIAL TV SHOWS/MOVIES -- most tv shows aren't good from start to finish. If I list a sitcom, you can always stop watching after three or four seasons, with no loss.
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS -- not gay at all and yet very very gay.
AN AMERICAN FAMILY -- for some reason, PBS is not streaming this groundbreaking reality series about the Loud family from the early 1970s. Lance Loud coming out on TV amidst his parents' divorce was a massive moment for the LGBTQI community.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
THE L WORD
MY SO-CALLED LIFE
QUEER AS FOLK (1999) UK original. If you watch the first season of the American version, that's plenty.
SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESS OF POWER
SIX FEET UNDER
TALES OF THE CITY
VICIOUS -- shamelessly bitchy and cliched show starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. It's like having Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh starring in Three's Company, but you can't help laughing.
WILL & GRACE
"A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE"
"A very special episode" is the way TV shows would tease an episode of a sitcom or drama that dealt with something controversial like alcoholism or suicide or bulimia or anything queer. They're not necessarily good but they are fascinating and fun to watch.
THE REJECTED -- aired on San Francisco's WQED (September 11, 1961)
CBS REPORTS: THE HOMOSEXUALS (March 7, 1967)
THAT CERTAIN SUMMER (November 1, 1972) CHEERS -- Season 1, Episode 16 (January 27, 1983)
AN EARLY FROST TV movie (November 11, 1985)
thirtysomething -- Season 3, Episode 6 (November 7, 1989)
BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 -- Season 2, Episode 3 (July 25, 1991)
ROSEANNE -- Season 6, Episode 18 (March 1. 1994)
THE REAL WORLD: SAN FRANCISCO -- Season 3, Episodes 1 and 19 (June 30/November 3, 1994)
FRAISER -- Season 2, Episode 3 (October 4, 1994).
ELLEN -- Season 4, Episodes 22 and 23 (April 30, 1997)
DAWSON'S CREEK -- Season 3, Episode 3 (May 24, 2000)
ONCE AND AGAIN Season 3, Assorted Episodes 8-19 (arc begins November 30, 2001)
CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND -- Season 1, Episode 14 (March 7, 2016)
BOJACK HORSEMAN -- Season 4, Episode 3 (September 8, 2017)
DERRY GIRLS -- Season 1, Episode 6 (February 8, 2018)
ONE DAY AT A TIME (2017 reboot) -- Season 1, Episode 10 (January 6, 2017)