LGBTQIA+ representation in TV shows across different streaming platforms

23 January, 2024

Image: Our Flag Means Death, Max

Over the past year, the demand for more LGBTQIA+ representation in the media has grown, with many shows introducing well-written, heart-felt, queer storylines into their ensemble (Ted Lasso), or shows written with the aim of reaching LGBTQIA+ communities (Our Flag Means Death). As a result of this representation, shows have developed loyal and loving fanbases, which is heavily reflected in their engagement data.

In the past representation has been present in shows like Orange is the New Black, but as of more recently, demand for LGBTQIA+ shows has become more mainstream and engaging for all audiences, maintaining popularity throughout the course of the show. 


In the USA, demand across all platforms exceeds the average, with Ted Lasso in the Exceptional range for demand and RuPaul’s Drag RaceSex Education and Our Flag Means Death in the Outstanding range which was followed with excellent audience engagement and critic reviews. These shows, whose key themes surround positivity and found family, provide a welcome escape for audiences, whilst also addressing real-world issues. 

Reality shows, such as RuPaul’s Drag Race has engaged audiences for 16 seasons since 2009 and even now reaches 31.0x the average demand in the USA, proving the call for it has never wavered and continues to please audiences.


Teen dramas, such as Sex Education, have an appeal with the Gen Z audience (36.2%), compared to the more mature audience of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is mostly Zennials (38.9%), indicating there is a large demand for LGBTQIA+ representation across a range of different ages. The audience composition is also mostly women for both shows.


The demand data for the UK falls behind that of the USA, which could be due to less marketing in the UK from streaming platforms that are primarily more focused in the USA, but could also be a result of the drop-off of engagement, after a season has finished airing. This could also be due to the reduced market size in the UK. The streaming platform could also be a contributary factor, with some UK households subscribing to only one streaming service. This is likely Netflix with 16.2 million subscribers this year in the UK. Despite this, shows like Ted Lasso are similarly well-received in the UK, long after the finale of the last season, likely due to the optimistic content of the show, speaking to the hearts of everyone, not exclusively football lovers. 

The demand for Netflix’s Sex Education is the largest in the UK, compared to the rest of the world, which could be due to the show’s setting, in a UK high school, aiming to engage young people with genuine representation and diversity, so domestic success is expected. 

Ted LassoOur Flag Means Death and Sex Education all display outstanding demand compared to the average, which could be owing to the fact that they are all shows in the comedy genre, providing heart-felt escapism and following compelling, lovable characters. The outstanding demand for RuPaul’s Drag Race, indicates that there is a definite call for more queer LGBTQIA+ reality TV with spin-offs in Canada, Spain, Mexico, Sweden, Australia and many other countries. 


In both the USA and the UK, Max’s Our Flag Means Death tops audience demand among TV shows with LGBTQIA+ representation. Although produced by a streaming service that is based in the US, the show has reached all over the world and continues to be popular months after the release of its second season. There is global demand for the show with many countries, across North America, South America and Europe, exceeding the average by over 10 times. Its average demand, in the last year, is 21.6x the average for all shows in this market worldwide, with a peak of 59.7x the average in mid-October, around the time that the second season was airing. 



There was a further peak in demand around the start of January, when the show was not renewed for a third season at Max, much to the dismay of critics and fans alike, who led a campaign to try and save the show. Written by David Jenkins and starring Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi, the romantic comedy has likely gained such a devoted fan base through its themes of “found family and queer community”.  The representation of older people in the LGBTQIA+ community could also be why the show performs so well, as it is a refreshing take on the genre. This is a theme thoroughly echoed in Ted Lasso with its “warmth and general charm”. Despite this, the show doesn’t isolate younger audiences as the largest proportion of the audience are Gen Z (49.4%). 

By addressing the demand data for each of these shows across each of the biggest world-wide streaming services, it is clear that shows with LGBTQIA+ representation are not only well-received but loved and appreciated by fans and this will only accelerate in years to come. 

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