With Pride Month around the corner, what better way is there to prepare or be an ally than to turn your attention to some of the best sapphic films and shows available? When it comes to the representation of sapphic relationships specifically, it can be difficult to sort through to figure out what’s going to be another over sexualized, stereotype-based film and what might actually be relatable and realistic.
For a long time, the majority of queer representation in media seemed to default to be the main character’s quirky best friend, the comical relief or a short-lived side story. So whether it be with your significant other, a pint of ice cream, or your emotional support ex, these films and shows are all must-watches that put the spotlight onto a different side of the sapphic experience.
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Hulu)
Though it only came out a few years ago, the setting of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” makes it feel like something of a classic. Set in the end of the 18th century, this film features an intense dynamic between two young women, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) and Marianne (Noémie Merlant).
The story follows the two while Héloïse is expected to soon be married to a Milanese nobleman against her wishes, and Marianne has been hired by her family to paint her wedding portrait in secret so that she may do so. As Marianne spends time with Héloïse trying to memorize her features in order to complete her portrait, the two unexpectedly grow closer and become very fond of one another.
This drama is the perfect watch for those who enjoy the slow-burn romance trope and an appreciation for the underlying messages and themes.
“Feel Good” (Netflix)
Though it’s highlighted as a comedy series, “Feel Good” addresses the experiences of current, prominent issues in society as the main character and co-writer of the show Mae (Mae Martin) plays out many of their real-life experiences. Fortunately for those who have a hard time talking about the serious stuff, Martin is also a professional comedian, so the series still manages to do so in a super funny and relatable way.
Each episode follows Mae as they navigate through their gender identity while their girlfriend, George (Charlotte Ritchie), is working to understand her own sexuality as a bisexual woman coming out in her adulthood. The show also touches on Mae’s struggle with trauma and addiction in a way that is raw and doesn’t work to romanticize them.
If you’re someone who likes to experience the full spectrum of their emotions within the span of a single episode or is maybe facing confusion with your own identity, the romantic comedy drama “Feel Good” might make you…feel good.
“Fear Street” (Netflix)
Based on R.L. Stine’s series by the same name, the “Fear Street” trilogy comes beautifully packaged as a three part movie series. This horror film series is a win for queer horror fans as it manages to give us this strong WLW representation while simultaneously giving the gore and suspense needed for a good horror movie.
This movie portrays a classic high school rivalry between the towns Shadyside and Sunnyvale, but it is quickly made clear just how deep this age-old rivalry runs. The story follows a group of teens from Shadyside as they try to stop a curse that has been leading to unexplained murders in their town for centuries.
It doesn’t take much motivation to do so as the main character Deena (Kiana Madeira) is in love with the curse’s latest victim, Sam (Olivia Scott Welch). So basically, if you’re a horror fan and an LGBTQ+ supporter, there’s no excuse to not check out “Fear Street” immediately.
“Twenties” (BET Plus)
The semi-autobiographical series “Twenties” was created, written and produced by actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe. Waithe’s goal with this series was to depict her experiences as a Black, masculine presenting queer woman working in her twenties.
The series features Jonnica T. Gibbs as she plays the main character Hattie who works as a writers assistant as she’s trying to become a stronger writer. The story follows Hattie and her friends Marie (Christina Elmore) and Nia (Gabrielle Graham) as they struggle to navigate their love lives and professions.
So many of the “Twenties” are both insanely funny and relatable, especially given that one of Hattie’s biggest struggles is finding a girlfriend who is emotionally available. This series is an easy watch and really for anyone that has a sense of humor, so if you don’t like it… I have some unfortunate news.
“The L Word” (Hulu)
“The L Word” is one of the most-binge watchable series and perfect for those of you who get invested in TV dramas like it’s your own life on the screen. This series consists of six drama packed seasons set in West Hollywood and features a friend group of woman-loving women (WLW). As it deals with so many different scenarios that we may confront in (platonic and romantic) sapphic relationships, this focus on experiences exclusive to WLW is a breath of fresh air.
Despite its almost satirical non-stop drama, “The L Word” worked to help many people feel normalcy in their experiences as it depicts lesbian relationships & sex from the perspective of the female gaze at a time where it was otherwise nonexistent in the media. Though it may now be viewed as outdated, as it began airing in 2004, this series was groundbreaking for its time and has very much earned its title as a “must watch” in the queer community.
“A League of Their Own” (Amazon Prime Video)
“A League of Their Own” is a new series that came with a high bar to reach as it is an adaptation of the famous 1992 film with the same name. That being said, it’s also safe to say that the new series exceeded expectations in its execution so far.
Set in 1943, this series is about the formation of the Rockford Peaches, an all women’s baseball team in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The series focuses on the women on the team as they fight for their rights and against racial and sex-based discrimination they face.
This period piece features Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson) who came to join the team promptly after finding out that her husband was soon returning from war. Carson soon meets Greta Gill (D’Arcy Carden) who encourages her to come to terms with and become confident in her sexuality as a steamy romance emerges between the two.
“Desert Hearts” (HBO Max)
With so many queer romantic dramas that focus on the pain and yearning within love, “Desert Hearts” is a real classic that maintains the balance as the first mainstream lesbian film to have a happy ending.
This film based in 1950s Reno features the love story of a freshly divorced Professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) who soon meets Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau), a younger woman on the ranch she’s taken residency as she finalizes her divorce. Right up to the end, we continuously wonder if their differences will get the best of the two or if they will keep learning from and compromising for one another.
The chemistry between the actresses in the film is palpable and will have you invested in the story. Overall, if you’re looking for a down-to-earth, warm romance for your night in, this is a film that rarely disappoints.
“Everything Sucks!” (Netflix)
Set in 1990s Oregon, “Everything Sucks!” follows a group of students in the A/V club at Boring High School. As it touches on fitting in, mental health and growing up, all of the typical “coming of age” boxes are checked off. In addition to covering all the expected bases, this show also did something that so many like it have steered away from, as it features two young girls developing a mutual crush.
As Kate (Peyton Kennedy) and Emaline (Sydney Sweeney) become friends and develop feelings for each other, the show leaves out the stereotypes and lets Kate and Emaline develop a romance that can only be described as super cute. With so little representation of queer girls at this age, seeing representation of the experience of a first “girl crush” is refreshing.
Unfortunately, watchers of this show suffered a cruel injustice as it was canceled after only one season. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t want to watch that one season multiple times. This one is for all the girls who passed off your crush as someone you just “really wanted to be friends with” and lovers of a good “enemies to lovers” trope.
In an adaptation of the novel “The Price of Salt,” the film “Carol” is an emotional drama featuring two very different women in 1950s New York.
When Therese (Rooney Mara), a woman in her early twenties, meets an older woman named Carol (Cate Blanchett) as she is in the process of a divorce from her husband, the two have an instant attraction to one another. Like any queer film set back more than a couple decades ago, the societal norms play into the struggles and detriment of this relationship as Carol’s husband uses Carol and Therese’s relationship as grounds for custody of his and Carol’s child. Especially for the time, the relationship between Carol and Therese came off rather unconventional and works to underline the fact all the different ways and places love emerges.
If you needed any more convincing, the film also features the iconic lesbian actress, Sarah Paulson, who plays Carol’s aunt Abby. For anyone drawn to the more emotional love dramas where they won’t go down without a fight, “Carol” should be added to your queue immediately.
“First Kill” (Netflix)
In all honesty, “First Kill” is one of those shows that some might refer to as objectively corny and in watching it… it’s a pretty hard point to argue. However, corny isn’t inherently bad and might even be referred to as comforting or something of a guilty pleasure for some.
The romance of two teen girls is the main focus of the show as it portrays the classic “forbidden love match” trope (basically like Romeo and Juliet but they’re lesbians and supernatural). The show starts off with Juliette Fairmont (Sarah Catherine) celebrating her sixteenth birthday, which would be super fun if it didn’t also mean needing to make her first kill to join the rest of her family of Legacy vampires. At the same time, she comes into contact with Calliope Burns (Imani Lewis) who just so happens to belong to a family of monster hunters.
If you’re someone who already has a tendency to indulge in all the comfortingly corny shows streaming services have to offer, there’s really no excuse to not add “First Kill” to your list.