By Adam Sandel
Television can be a powerful medium for social change. Characters come into your home every week and can feel like your family or friends. Comedy makes the messages go down easier and these shows have all blazed trails and changed hearts and minds about what it means to be gay.
10. My So-Called Life (1994-1995) – This comedy-drama about the trials and tribulations of a teenage girl put its star Claire Danes on the map, but more significantly, it featured Wilson Cruz as Rickie Vasquez: the first out gay teen on network television.
9. Sex and the City (1998-2004) – The iconic show about four sex-obsessed New York women is still a huge hit with gay men. Yes, there were two recurring gay characters (Carrie’s bff Stanford and Charlotte’s wedding planner Anthony), but the four ladies’ sexual misadventures and conversations were more like those of gay men than straight women.
8. Desperate Housewives (2004-2012) – The gay neighbors Lee and Bob (Kevin Rahm and Tuc Watkins) introduced in 2007 never became an integral part of the show, but the coming out of Bree’s son Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) added some juicy plot twists.
7. Ugly Betty (2006-2010) – From Betty’s uber-gay nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato), to Michael Urie’s villainous gay assistant Marc, to the show’s satiric spin on the fashion world, this comedy was near and dear to gay viewers’ hearts.
6. Queer Eye (2003-2007) – This comedic reality show in which five gay men (Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia and Jai Rodriguez) made over style-impaired straight men did more for gay-straight relations than anything on television.
5. Ellen (1994-1998) – When star Ellen DeGeneres came out publicly, and then her character Ellen came out in the 1997 “The Puppy Episode,” 50 million viewers tuned in to watch the comedian make television history.
4. Soap (1977-1981) – This soap spoof sitcom created by Susan Harris (who went on to create The Golden Girls) featured two hilariously dysfunctional families – and Billy Crystal as gay son Jodie: the first gay series regular character on television.
3. Modern Family (2009-Present) – The misadventures of gay couple Cameron and Mitchell (the hilarious Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) raising their adopted daughter in this top-rated sitcom prove that gays can be just as funny and flawed as anyone else.
2. Will & Grace (1998-2006) – The platonic love story of gay Will (Eric McCormack) and straight Grace (Debra Messing) introduced the first leading gay character on a network sitcom. Bonus points for Sean Hayes’ flamboyant “Just Jack” McFarland and Megan Mullally’s iconic lush Karen Walker.
1.Glee (2009-Present) – This ratings juggernaut is not only one of the most popular shows on television, it’s also the gayest, with eight (count ‘em eight) gay and/or bisexual series regulars and recurring characters. Chris Colfer’s Kurt, Darren Criss’ Blaine, Naya Rivera’s Santana and Heather Morris’ bi-curious Brittany all contribute major gay storylines. Max Adler’s gay ex-bully Karofsky, Rachel’s gay dads (Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell) and Grant Gastin’s bitchy Warbler Sebastian prove to Glee’s young audience that gay is not only okay, it’s freakin’ fabulous.
The gay-friendly network award goes to ABC for airing six of these top ten gay shows. The lump of coal award goes to CBS — which has aired none.