One show I’m obsessed with is US sitcom The Nanny [whose cast recently reunited for a virtual table read of its pilot episode]. The writing is so good and very queer in its punch lines and delivery, but it’s worth watching just for the clothes. The fashion design on Fran Drescher is so ridiculous, and so drag. I would wear any of these outfits! Then there’s the butler. They write him straight, but honey, come on…
Pose (FX/BBC iPlayer) is exquisite. It takes the stories of queer people of colour from New York in the 80s and puts them front and centre, which is something that hasn’t really been done before. Looking at Ru Paul’s Drag Race, the jokes and references are rooted in Paris Is Burning and the ball culture that Pose showcases. It’s a historic timepiece, but fun and beautiful to watch. Many of the actors and writers are also from the queer and trans communities.
The show that has been getting me through the lockdown is The Simpsons (Disney+/All4). It might not be queer or gay, really, but it is a little bit, right? It discusses serious issues, but in an irreverent way, which makes it very comforting, because we’re dealing with a lot of serious, scary stuff, so ending the day with some levity and nonsense is a nice tonic.
The first show you have to watch is The Vivienne Takes on Hollywood, which premieres on BBC Three on 9 April. It’s a tongue-in-cheek mockumentary about me going over to Los Angeles to make my music video, rubbing shoulders with all these Hollywood types. It’s everything you’d expect to see and more from The Vivienne, this little drag queen from Liverpool, trying to find her feet on Hollywood Boulevard.
Lately, I’ve been watching the true-crime documentary Tiger King (Netflix). Joe Exotic [the protagonist] is in a lifelong feud with a conservationist, Carole Baskin, and eventually gets locked up for plotting to kill her. Oh, and he’s also a massive homosexual; his blue eyeliner is the best thing ever. And he’s polyamorous (he has two husbands). And this is real life! It’s 100% factual and it makes me think: “Only in America.”
For a series that’s camp, fun and easy to binge-watch, Next in Fashion (Netflix) is like Ru Paul’s Drag Race meets Project Runway. It showcases these amazing designers, who are really established and good at their craft, but have always worked in the shadow of celebrities and big labels, giving them the opportunity to make their names.
Euphoria (HBO/Sky Atlantic) is my favourite show right now. It’s important because it describes so much of what happens with teenagers when it comes to addiction and partying, and also abuse. As someone who grew up very quickly, it really resonated with me. I think parents ought to watch it to be aware of what they should be looking out for if their children have problems. I enjoyed the way they handled the trans character [played by Hunter Schafer], because they didn’t do this whole coming out situation. She’s just there, in a very normal and natural way.
I liked Sex Education (Netflix) for similar reasons – because of the way queerness is portrayed as something normal and acceptable. The non-discussion of people’s gender expression, or what they align to, is a great direction for things to go. It’s styled in a way that’s so 80s, but with modern issues, giving it a timeless quality. Oh, and how brilliant is “shag specialist” Gillian Anderson?
Sex and the City (HBO/Now TV) is quite adult, but in the camp sense. There’s a queer sensibility throughout: quick tongues, quicker flings and the best early 00s fashion put together by quintessential NYC style maven Patricia Fields. What more could you want?
Sadly, Ru Paul’s AJ and the Queen (Netflix) hasn’t been renewed for a second season, but it’s a heartfelt show with some great drag cameos. The story is all about heart and forgiveness and proving you’re never too old to learn, even from a 10-year-old. The best episode? Obviously episode seven, starring yours truly and Monique Heart. I play the “entrepreneur” Fabergé Legs – drag queen, club owner and manufacturer of counterfeit goods.
I love cartoons and Family Guy (Hulu/Now TV) touches on every issue imaginable. I mean, Quagmire’s dad is an army veteran who’s also a transsexual woman! Back in 2009, the show even predicted Caitlyn Jenner’s transition. Check out the episode We Love You, Conrad, from the seventh season.
The show I’ve been watching non-stop is The Golden Girls (Hulu/Amazon Prime). Just hearing Rose say something stupid and Dorothy snapping back at her gives me this feeling of comfort – probably because I’ve watched it so many times. Why do gay men love this show? Well, it’s about four very different, sassy, funny, independent women. And there’s nothing gay men love more than strong women.
If you haven’t seen Fortune Feimster: Sweet and Salty (Netflix), check it out. Feimster is a lesbian comedian with a terrific brand of comedy and storytelling. She’s joy-filled and joyous to watch, with this charming southern drawl, and she represents part of the queer community that doesn’t get enough visibility. Women in showbusiness already have a major uphill battle – and then add her sexuality to that. This woman has been working her entire life and is just starting to become known.
Also, Glee (Netflix) is one to rewatch. It has great storylines – like Kurt coming out – and a fantastic cast of colour and ability. It’s diversity in your face! Remember, Glee made Ryan Murphy mainstream, and that led to American Horror Story, which led to Pose. So without Glee, we wouldn’t have Pose.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is on VH1 in the US and Netflix in the UK