5 LGBTQ+ Friendly YA Shows to Look Forward to This Summer

LeeAnn
8 Min Read
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It’s Pride month and that means we’re celebrating all things LGBTQ+! So naturally, we’re here to offer you some suggestions of what to watch this summer. In particular, we’re looking at the five LGBTQ+-friendly YA shows returning for new seasons this summer that we don’t think you should miss. Let’s jump in!

Heartstopper

Netflix’s award-winning adaptation of Alice Oseman’s hit webtoon/graphic novel series Heartstopper takes the number one place on this list and for good reason. The show’s second season is one of the most highly anticipated Netflix releases of the summer!

With clear representations of a variety of different genders and sexualities, Heartstopper is one of the best representations of LGBTQ+ teens available today. The multi-Emmy Award-winning show offers fans a chance to experience all the emotions and drama of being a queer teen in a way that is uplifting and entertaining for the whole family. Premiering on Netflix on August 3, 2023, season two will see Nick (Kit Conner) and Charlie (Joe Locke) navigating their new relationship, while Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) face unforeseen challenges, and Tao (William Gao) and Elle (Yasmin Finney) work out if they can ever be more than just friends.

Following the teens through the events of Heartstopper Volume 3, the show’s second season is sure to be the can’t-miss LGBTQ+ show of the summer.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

While The Summer I Turned Pretty turned social media upside-down last year with a discussion of the series’ central love triangle, fans of Jenny Han’s series were also quick to share their feelings on a surprise development in the show: Jeremiah’s bi/pansexuality.

While the books the series is based on never paid much attention to the LGBTQ+ community, Han made a clear decision when writing the show to remedy that. In the books, Jeremiah is kind and quite flirty anyway, so not only was this a great way to add more representation to the show, but it was also an easy shift for fans to follow. It adds some great dimension to his character and was a simple way to introduce a queer character to the story.

Season two promises to expand on the story as it’s told in the book, and with Han’s ongoing quest to increase diversity hopefully this means we’ll be getting even more LGBTQ+ representation when the new season premieres with a three-episode drop on Prime Video July 14.

Never Have I Ever

With its final season out on Netflix on June 8, Never Have I Ever has been a favorite queer YA show from the very beginning. Premiering in 2020, the show introduced viewers to Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), her best friends Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) and Eleanor (Ramona Young), her frenemy Ben (Jaren Lewison), and her crush-turned-boyfriend Paxton (Darren Barnet). Since then it has followed the group through romances, school and family troubles, and more.

In season 4, fans will get to see Devi enter her senior year of high school without a boyfriend – she and Paxton having broken up in season 3 – but still with her best friends by her side. Fans will also hopefully get to see more of Fabiola and how wrapping up her teenage years impacts the journey she’s been on regarding her sexuality. Rodriguez’s portrayal of Fabiola’s experiences as a queer teen has been exceptional! She has created a relatable character that is so much fun to watch, and we can’t wait to see more of her story in this final season.

From exploring the ups and downs of being a teenager to tackling bigger issues like grief and sexuality Never Have I Ever is a wonderful example of how to make a diverse show for teens, and its final season is sure to be a can’t-miss moment.

Cruel Summer

Returning for a second season with a new cast and storyline Cruel Summer is unique on this list. Part teen drama, part mystery Cruel Summer is darker than the other shows on our list. So, don’t go into this one expecting a lighthearted watch. However, if you want something more gritty, but still representative of actual teenagers, this might be your show.

Set in an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest, season 2 focuses on the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship. Much like the first season, this season approaches the story from three different timelines, but this time surrounding Y2K. Twisting and turning as it tracks the early friendship between Megan (Sadie Stanley), Isabella (Lexi Underwood), and Megan’s best friend Luke (Griffin Gluck), season two follows the trio through the love triangle that blossomed and the mystery that would impact all of their lives going forward. With this storyline introducing a whole new cast of characters, we can’t count on our favorite LGBTQ+ characters from season 1 but given the incredible representation from season 1, we’re sure season two will be just as great.

Check out our latest interview with the cast of season 2 here, and be sure to catch all the episodes on Freeform starting on Monday, June 5 at 9 p.m. ET.

Reservation Dogs

Back for a third season on Hulu on August 2, Reservation Dogs is a must-watch for far more than its LGBTQ+ representation – although that is what earned its spot on this list.

Telling the story of a group of Navajo teens, Reservation Dogs is unique on this list, and on television, in that it features an all-Indigenous writing and directing team, plus a majority Indigenous cast. This allows the series a realism in its storytelling that has earned critical acclaim, with two Independent Spirit Awards as well as Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody nominations! That realism includes one of the few explicitly non-binary characters on television in Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), providing some much-needed representation.

So if you’re looking for your next great queer YA watch this summer, be sure to check out each of these shows as they air this summer. Then be sure to check back here throughout the rest of this month for more articles celebrating Pride!

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By LeeAnn
LeeAnn is children's librarian who joined Nerds and Beyond in 2020 as a way to stretch her writing skills and connect with others who have the same pop culture passions as she does. She loves music, reading (obviously), and any TV show that can grab and hold her attention. Currently some of her favorite things to nerd out over include Supernatural, Prodigal Son, Louden Swain and Percy Jackson (books, theater, or upcoming show - lets leave the movies out of it).
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