In Honor of International Lesbian Day and National Coming Out Day, Here Are 8 Iconic Lesbian TV Couples
If there were a second Pride Month, it would probably be in October, if only because there are a few special LGBTQIA holidays jammed right in at the beginning. International Lesbian Day was Friday, October 8, and National Coming Out Day was yesterday, October 11.
In honor of these two auspicious - and relatively new - holidays, let's take a look at how lesbians have "come out" in television: because even though representation is not where it could be yet, it's a heck of a lot better than it was in the 90s, when an on-screen lesbian wedding was something of a miracle.
Here are 8 of the most iconic lesbian TV couples of the past 30 years.
Carol and Susan, 'Friends'
We had to start off with a classic: Carol Willick and Susan Bunch were the first confirmed lesbian couple to ever have a recurring role in a television show. Carol, Ross' ex wife, divorces him to be with Susan when she realizes she's a lesbian. However, after she comes to find out she's pregnant, she and Susan decide to raise the child together...of course, with regular parental visits for his father.
After Ben is born in the Friends Season 1 finale, Carol and Susan become regular guest stars on the show. They even show their wedding in Season 2 - but it's worth noting that they never kiss on screen.
Willow and Tara, 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
Willow and Tara's relationship was huge in the early aughts, as they were one of the first lesbian couples to be portrayed in a serious relationship on TV - and one of the first to actually KISS on TV, even though Tara unfortunately dies later in that same episode. (The 'bury your gays' trope had to start somewhere - thanks for the contribution, Joss Whedon.)
Fans loved the relationship between the two witches, which was one of deep mutual understanding and intellectualism.
Tina and Bette, 'The L Word'
The first TV show ever to have an all-lesbian ensemble cast, The L Word broke major boundaries just by existing. Add to that, though, that the cast included Tina and Bette, two lesbians who are already in a committed relationship at the start of the show, and are trying to start a family.
The show doesn't idealize their relationship: They fight, break up, and get back together several times over six seasons. However, they do it all while being a part of a real family, raising their daughter together. This was monumentally important visibility for queer couples at the time, showing everyone that yes, you can have a normal life if you're gay. (And you can see them again on the reboot series, The L Word: Generation Q on Showtime.)
Kima and Cheryl, 'The Wire'
The Wire wasn''t about the relationship between police officer Shakima Greggs and her partner, a TV journalist named Cheryl, but that is part of why it's significant. The fact that seeing a lesbian couple portrayed did not require the entire episode to stop and explain itself was major progress.
Unfortunately, Kima and Cheryl don't last, breaking up after Cheryl has a child and Kima realizes she doesn't want to be a parent. It's a sad ending for them, but it doesn't change that they made history.
Brittany and Santana, 'Glee'
The singing phenomenon that took 2000s TV by storm, Glee featured a lot of firsts in television, including the first lesbian couple portrayed as teenagers - showing a whole generation of closeted teens that actually, it's okay to be gay. Brittany and Santana start off as friends with benefits in the first season of Glee, slowly transitioning to something more over the next couple of seasons. They date in secret in season 2, and after Santana is outed in season 3, they become an official couple.
They do break up for a time when Santana graduates and Brittany is forced to repeat her senior year, trying to do the "mature" thing, but get back together as soon as they can. In the finale of the show, they get married.
Annalise and Eve, 'How To Get Away With Murder'
Annalise and Eve are a couple who really explore the dynamics of what it means to be a lesbian, and how one experience - like growing up in the bible belt and being black - can be entirely different from another. Their relationship is tumultuous, but it's also a favorite among How To Get Away With Murder fans. There was a lot of anger in the fanbase when the show appeared to cut Eve out for good back in 2019, especially since the moment itself seemed to acknowledge that this wasn't right: "I always thought you two were endgame," one of the other characters said about them.
She came back a few more times after that, but it was never the same.
Korra and Asami, 'Avatar: The Legend of Korra'
Yes, The Legend Of Korra is a Nickelodeon cartoon, but that's exactly why these girlfriends are so special. Korra and Asami were the first canonical gay romance in children's television (not that Avatar could ever be described as a show JUST for kids.) When the show's creators confirmed that the moment they share, holding hands as they walk into the Spirit World, was, in fact, romantic, the internet went nuts.
They don't get to be terribly romantic in the show itself, but they opened the door for other cartoons, like Stephen Universe, to push those boundaries further. Plus, the comics that continue the story afterwards have plenty of wonderful scenes depicting the relationship between the Avatar and the young business mogul.
Alicia and Denise, 'Master of None'
Master of None just came back from a four-year hiatus this spring, and the shape it came back in is very different - and much gayer. While Aziz Ansari created the show and formerly starred in it as Dev, this season his character took a backseat so that the show could focus more on the relationship between Alicia and Denise (and so that the public would focus less on him), who are living together on a picturesque farm in upstate New York.