*Contains some spoilers for Jane the Virgin, Legends of Tomorrow, Jessica Jones, and Santa Clarita Diet.
After a couple of dicey years filled with “bury your gay” tropes and challenges, 20GayTeen is showing signs of life. There have been a couple of setbacks (Arizona being written out of Grey’s Anatomy, The Fosters drawing to a close), overall leading lesbian, bi and queer characters are doing alright. They’re falling in love, learning to heal, realizing their powers, and so much more. Supporting LGBTQ characters are having a hell of a good year too. Their roles might not be a big as Waverly Earp or Alex Davers, but these supporting and reoccurring characters are making big waves and delivering knockout performances. No longer are these characters relegated to the sidelines, or defined by their sexuality, and that’s a good sign for things to come. The goal is not just for them to stay alive, but also to thrive.
Jeri Hogarth (Jessica Jones): This might be Jessica’s show, but Jeri Hogarth (played by a fierce Carrie-Anne Moss) came in like a wrecking ball and stole every scene she was in and then some. The duplicitous lesbian lawyer who lives by her own moral code had a major storyline in Season 2, where she was given some ominous medical news that turned her world upside down. Fresh from being dumped by her girlfriend Pam (and being sued by her as well), Jeri’s law firm partners are determined to push her out. Jeri goes on a bender to end all benders, with lots of drugs, expensive wine, and sex. But it’s not until Jessica brings former nurse, Inez Green, into Jeri’s world, that Jeri begins to formulate a plan.
Jeri is by no means a sympathetic character, yet, here we are, feeling for her through illness and betrayal. Moss plays Jeri with an icy control that is fascinating to watch melt. (Watch the scene where Jeri loses it in her empty apartment.) She employs cruel manipulations to nearly everyone she meets, and you can’t take your eyes off of her. Could Jeri Hogarth be the complex, lesbian villain we haven’t gotten to see before? Is she a villain at all? Her character’s richness and complexity has you revel in her scenes, even if she also makes you recoil. Talk about making an impression.
Petra Solano and Jane Ramos (Jane the Virgin): Petra (Yael Grobglas) has been often been painted as the Jane the Virgin villain, but in the last few seasons we’ve seen her redemption in a big way. Not only has she put aside her need to sabotage former husband Rafael, but she’s also become best friends with one-time enemy, Jane. Petra is stubborn and challenging, but also painfully compelling. In this season (which is rumored to be the show’s final), Petra met her match in lawyer Jane “JR” Ramos (guest star Rosario Dawson). What unfolded was a love story for the ages, and a real surprise. Petra was drawn to JR and the feeling was mutual. They fake kissed, then real kissed, and kissed again. They went to bed and Petra decided to do something she wasn’t all that experienced in: be vulnerable. Groblas’ Petra has always been JtV‘s secret weapon, but never so much more than this season where she found love in an unexpected place and went with it. The addition of Dawson to the cast was a brilliant one, as she sparkles. A match made in Marbella.
Anna Garcia and Lisa Palmer (Santa Clarita Diet) In a show full of hilarious characters, it’s no easy feat to stand out, but somehow that’s exactly what Anna and Lisa have done. Lisa (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), the confident and sexy neighbor to Joel and Sheila Hammond (and embarrassing mother to Eric) has been thriving since her creep of a husband, Dan, ended up one of Sheila’s midnight snacks. Anna, Dan’s former partner, managed to sweep Lisa off her feet and keep the Hammonds on their toes. Well, what’s left of them. Anna is played by Natalie Morales (who identifies as queer in real life), the straight man to pretty much everyone, who also happens to be the only one to figure out that something odd is happening in her neighborhood. Separately, the women are smart and capable. Together, they are flirty and open about their relationship. Lisa takes time out to pay attention to Sheila and Joel’s neglected daughter, while Anna is an out lesbian and devout Christian who plays a crucial role in the cliffhanger finale.
Ava Sharpe (Legends of Tomorrow): From the moment we met the buttoned-up Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan) and she sparred with Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz), it was clear there was a connection between them. Flash forward and the love affair between Ava and Sara has blossomed into a full-blown love story. Yes, they are broken-up for now, but you can’t keep a good ship down. Ava is the first person that Sara has really fallen hard for since Legends of Tomorrow began, and for good reason. The suit, the skills, the voice. Macallan elevates whatever role she’s given, so it’s not a big surprise that she’s been such a hit with fans. When Ava is in a scene, she commands the screen with a mix of gentle neurosis and wit. She’s also a perfect match for Sara. I hope these two crazy kids figure things out. (I think they will figure things out.)