11 iconic lesbian TV couples that we remain absolutely obsessed with
From The L Word‘s Tibette to Orange is the New Black‘s Vauseman, these lesbian TV couples were – and still are – absolutely iconic.
When it comes to queer characters on TV, it’s no secret that positive LGBTQ+ representation is still hard to come by. Lesbian characters, for instance, are often the victims of senseless death – frequently right after they declare their love for each other.
When it’s not in-show shenanigans and the pervasive ‘bury your gays’ trope that puts a stop to depictions of the lesbian experience on TV, it’s often show cancellations that slowly erode sapphic representation on our screens – Warrior Nun, we’re looking at you.
With that in mind, we’re taking a look back at just a handful of the most iconic lesbian relationships on TV in honour of Lesbian Visibility Week. These women are the very definition of ‘couple goals’, and they’ll forever have a place in our hearts.
Santana and Brittany – Glee
Naya Rivera and Heather Morris arguably carried the comedy-drama-musical Glee over its six series, giving representation to queer viewers everywhere.
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The pair went through breakups, proposals and more accompanying musical numbers than Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wet dreams, but it’s hard to find a more beloved lesbian couple than these two. Bonus points for somehow making “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” even gayer.
Nomi and Amanita – Sense8
While queer supernatural action drama Sense8 was not short of queer characters, Nomi and Amanita (Jamie Clayton, Freema Agyeman) were one of the show’s best relationships, and one of our favourite lesbian couples in recent years.
Trans ‘hacktivist’ Nomi and her devoted girlfriend-then-wife Amanita do everything together – whether that’s figuring out how to navigate Nomi’s developing supernatural abilities or her transphobic family. They also started the entire series by having sex with a rainbow strap-on. Gay rights.
Bette and Tina – The L Word
Having started dating seven years prior to the very first episode of genre-defining series The L Word, which followed the lives of a group of lesbian and bisexual women in West Hollywood, Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman) were, to put it bluntly, trailblazers.
Yes, the characters broke each other’s (and our) hearts several times, even though they ended the (original) series together.
The spinoff, Generation Q, closes with Tina appearing at Bette’s door, asking to come in after a fight – leaving their fate and our emotions hanging in the balance for all eternity.
Anne and Ann – Gentleman Jack
Britain’s first known lesbian ‘wedding’ occurred between the real life diarist Anne Lister and landowner Ann Walker. In the BBC series Gentleman Jack, that relationship was expertly brought to life by Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle – and we can’t stop thinking about them, even though the series ended after only two series in 2019.
The Georgian lovers really were pioneers, courting and even exchanging rings to form a union in secret, decades before same-sex relationships became even remotely acceptable. Several steamy scenes and the couple’s unparalleled dynamic place the double Anne/Ann pairing firmly on our list.
Piper and Alex – Orange is the New Black
If dysfunctional was a couple, it would be Alex and Piper (Laura Prepon, Taylor Schilling). The pair were quite literally in jail because of each other, but we can’t help but love them. ‘Prison-wives‘ isn’t traditionally as romantic as ‘actual wives’ but the two were incarcerated for a large portion of their screen time, so it was all about making do.
Before, during and after being stuck in Litchfield Penitentiary, the felons’ relationship was up and down more than Tom Daley on a diving board – and although they didn’t end up together, they remained friends, giving Vauseman fans everywhere a scrap of hope.
Shoutout to Orange is the New Black for also giving us Laverne Cox as Sophia Bursett.
Carson and Greta – A League Of Their Own
Recently semi-renewed queer baseball series A League Of The Own hit a home run (sports!), with a whole host of queer characters including fan favourite lesbian icon Max. But it was Carson and Greta, played by D’Arcy Carden and Abbi Jacobson, who gave us the perfect combination of tension, comedy and romance.
Set in 40s Chicago, the Windy City didn’t know what hit it when Carson and Greta met for the first time. Here’s hoping their story wraps up nicely in the criminally short season two.
Special mention goes to the queer couple of ‘Uncle Bertie’ (played by Lea Robinson) and his wife Gracie. Bertie is portrayed as transmac, using he/him pronouns throughout the show, and helps protagonist Max (Chanté Adams) come to grips with her own sexuality.
Ava and Beatrice – Warrior Nun
Ain’t no fandom like the Warrior Nun fandom, and we’d like to give credit to the relationship of ‘Avatrice’ for a good portion of their enthusiasm.
While the show is about a group of nuns that train teenage girls to fight demons and the forces of evil, Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young) and martial arts expert Ava (Alba Baptista) gave the gays everything they wanted before the show’s untimely cancellation.
There were (cut) bedroom scenes, fight sequences and smooches. The relationship was a perfectly written example of lesbian slow-burn angst, and how to do a payoff properly.
Stef and Lena – The Fosters
Police officer Stef Foster (Teri Polo) and vic principal Lena Adams (Sherri Saum) were the heads of the original modern family, with their kids adopted, biological and fostered (because it’s The Fosters, get it?)
The pair played with our heartstrings over the course of the show, even filing for a divorce at one point – granted, it was an elaborate ploy to save their house from being sold, but it still hurt!
Stef and Lena got remarried later down the line, cementing their status as a lesbian couple that would do anything for their family.
Cosima and Delphine – Orphan Black
Cosima Niehaus was one of five clones (all played by Tatiana Maslaney) at the crux of the sci-fi series Orphan Black; Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) is originally assigned to be her ‘monitor’ at the behest of giant scientific mega-corporation the Dyad Institute.
Not the most typical grounds for a love story, but these two brilliant scientists made it work – even with killer assassins and evil academics on their tail.
Arizona and Callie – Grey’s Anatomy
Medical mega-series Grey’s Anatomy had more trauma than a Jamie Lee Curtis meme, but it also gave us some exceptional queer characters, and Arizona and Callie (Jessica Capshaw and Sara Ramirez) are near the top of that list.
An orthopaedic surgeon and a paediatric surgeon at the most drama-plagued medical institute in the world, Grey Sloan Memorial, the two survived bigoted family members, lorry crashes, premature births and an actual mass murderer attacking the hospital. Like we said, trauma.
Although the pair didn’t end up together, Calzona remains a firm favourite in our hearts.
Maggie and Alex – Supergirl
Although Supergirl’s older sister Alex and police detective Maggie are still waiting for our therapist’s bill following their breakup, the couple were so good together we couldn’t resist putting them on the list.
Despite our hearts being ripped out, it was incredibly refreshing to see two out and proud characters in superhero media (Marvel, do more) – and their breakup is almost too beautiful to be considered a breakup.
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