Welcome to fall, when you can smell the pumpkin spice lattes in the air and see all the shiny new shows longing for your approval and a full season pick-up. The new television season also brings with it a number of new roles for lesbian and bisexual female characters.
Spring and summer shows like “The Fosters,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Transparent,” “Orphan Black” and “Pretty Little Liars” continue to lead the way when it comes to lesbian and bisexual representation. Fall TV lags behind, with only about half a dozen shows featuring regular queer characters.
The new crop this season will include several supporting roles for lesbian and bisexual characters, some larger and some smaller than the others. The only new show that will feature a queer female at its forefront is the anthological series “American Horror Story,” which brings in Lady Gaga as a sexually fluid hotel owner. Some existing shows, like “Empire,” “Gotham” and “The Vampire Diaries,” will bolster their casts with new gay female characters as well.
Here is a look at which shows will be bringing you new lesbian and bisexual characters this fall, as well as a reminder of the returning ones you’ll find back on your TV.
Established shows “Faking It” (with its no-longer-faking-it queer characters Amy and Karma, played by Rita Volk and Katie Stevens) on MTV and “Jane the Virgin” (with OBGYN Luisa (Yara Martinez), her former lover/stepmother Rose (Bridget Regan) and Jordan (Vanessa Vander Pluym), Luisa’s current girlfriend) on The CW will all pick up their lesbian storylines in their sophomore seasons.
“Gotham,” Fox (8 pm, Fox)
In its first season “Gotham” disappeared lesbian detective Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and turned bisexual character Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) into a psychotic killer. In the second season show producers told AfterEllen that Barbara (now one of the show’s many, many, many villains) will be in a love triangle that includes another new female villain. Odds are pretty good the other woman will be actress Jessica Lucas, who was introduced as Tabitha/Tigress in the second season premiere.
“Grandfathered,” Fox (8 pm, Fox – premieres Sept. 29)
John Stamos is too hot to be a grandfather — get it? Oy, I know. But the Greek yogurt spokesman (who plays a playboy restaurateur in the new sitcom) will have a lesbian assistant played by Kelly Jenrette. So there’s that.
“Fresh Off the Boat” (8:30 pm, ABC)
The sitcom about a Taiwanese-American family trying to adjust to their new lives and locale after moving from Washington, D.C. to Orlando in the mid-’90s was a welcome addition to the TV landscape last season. In its second season it will add the recurring lesbian character of Deb (Sonya Eddy, who was briefly seen in one episode of the first season) as family matriarch Jessica’s buddy at the local lesbian bar.
“Scream Queens,” Fox (9 pm, Fox)
“Glee” creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan graduate to college and lose the singing for a whole bunch of blood. The campy slasher revels in its bitchiness and a very high body count. Asian-American butch lesbian character, Sam (played by Jeanna Han) managed to survive the first episode. But I wouldn’t get too attached to her, especially because Murphy & Co. have decided to make her a stereotypically predatory and man-hating lesbian.
“The Arrow” returns to The CW after killing off queer character Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), but continues on with her ex-girlfriend Nyssa Al Ghul (Katrina Law).
“Rosewood,” Fox (9 pm, Fox)
Yes, yet another crime procedural about someone with a special and/or highly specialized gift who works with law enforcement to solve cases. This one stars Morris Chestnut as private pathologist Dr. Rosewood (hence the show’s name) who forms an unlikely (aren’t they always) partnership with a female Miami Police Department detective. Dr. Rosewood also gets help in his private, high-tech lab from his lesbian sister Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis) and her fiancée Kathy (Anna Konkle). While it is lovely to show a committed lesbian couple with what appears to be zero relationship hang-ups, so far Pippy and TMI’s chemistry has been a little DOA. Maybe the great Lorraine Toussaint, who plays the Rosewood siblings’ mother, can give them some acting pointers.
“Empire,” Fox (9 pm, Fox)
The megahit has upgraded actress Serayah’s role of bisexual R&B pop singer Tiana Brown from a recurring character to a main character for its second season. It has also added the new lesbian character of Mimi Whiteman (played by Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei). She is playing a billionaire venture capitalist who becomes involved with the Lyon family and Empire Entertainment.
“American Horror Story: Hotel” (10 pm, FX – premieres Oct. 7)
Ryan Murphy is back for another twisted ride through your worst nightmares, this time in the form of a hotel. The aforementioned Lady Gaga plays Elizabeth who, Murphy revealed to AfterEllen, has relationships with the characters played by Matt Bomer, Cheyenne Jackson and Angela Bassett. “American Horror Story” veteran Lily Rabe also returns to play real-life lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos (whose story was made famous in the film “Monster”).
“Grey’s Anatomy” is back on ABC with the couple formerly known as Calzona.
“The Vampire Diaries,” (9 pm, The CW – premieres Oct. 8)
In its seventh season, the supernatural soap opera will add its first lesbian characters — Nora and Mary Louise (played by Scarlett Byrne and Teressa Liane). The women play a lesbian couple who were turned into vampires in the 1900s, when it was very much forbidden to be in such a relationship. They will be among this season’s new baddies who cause trouble in Mystic Falls.
“How to Get Away With Murder,” (10 pm, ABC)
The Season 2 premiere (SPOILER) ends with the big-time reveal that newly minted Emmy winner Viola Davis’ character Annalise Keating is bisexual. And her ex-girlfriend (and possibly future — considering all that making out, and then some) was none other than Famke Janssen.
“Master of None” (Premieres Nov. 6)
The show centers on “Parks and Recreation” alum Aziz Ansari as an indecisive actor. He cast his real-life out lesbian friend Lena Waithe as one of his character’s lesbian friends. Show executive producer Mike Shur told AfterEllen the role was originally written as a straight character, but after talking with Waithe, it was changed.
“Jessica Jones,” (Premieres Nov. 20)
Former superhero Jessica Jones returns to civilian life in New York City, while still fighting crime in her own way. The new Netflix drama stars Krysten Ritter in the title role. Carrie-Anne Moss plays Harper, an ally of Jessica’s who — if on-set production shots are to be believed — falls somewhere well past straight on the Kinsey Scale.