As the cool weather sets in, hot new releases with queer themes and characters are hitting theaters and streaming platforms. From a Marvel superheroes feature to a Princess Diana biopic, commercial and indie films highlight LGBTQ romances, while reality shows stir up controversy on the small screen. And, across the board, fraught period pieces reign supreme.
Here is a list of upcoming and recently released queer-inclusive shows and films to cozy up to as the year draws to a close — before Christmas content takes over.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting a new band of superheroes. A team of ancient aliens, who have been secretly living on Earth for thousands of years, is forced out of the shadows by an unexpected tragedy following the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” “Eternals,” directed by Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), features Marvel’s first openly gay hero, couple and kiss, involving Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and his mortal husband, Ben (Haaz Sleiman). As if saving the world wasn’t hard enough on a relationship, the couple is also raising a son in the suburbs.
“Eternals” opens in theaters Friday.
The Peabody Award-winning series about the early life of great American poet Emily Dickinson is back for its third and final season. In the last chapter, which takes place during the Civil War, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) grapples with life in a divided, traumatized country and the demands of her complicated romance with longtime friend Sue. Despite the solemn backdrop, audiences can expect the series’ usual campy, stylized take on mid-19th-century living, along with a new host of comedic favorites playing historical characters: Ziwe as Sojourner Truth, Billy Eichner as Walt Whitman and Chloe Fineman as Sylvia Plath.
“Dickinson” season three premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday.
Director Pablo Larraín’s Princess Diana biopic, starring Kristen Stewart in the title role, portrays three eventful days during the royal’s 1991 Christmas holiday. In the film — which is reminiscent of Larraín’s Jacqueline Kennedy biopic, “Jackie” — arguments over bulimia and infidelity lead to the eventual separation between the Princess of Wales and her then-husband, Prince Charles. How much of the film is actually based in reality — including an unexplored romance between Diana and a member of her inner circle — is sure to intrigue audiences and ruffle royal feathers.
“Spencer” opens in theaters Friday.
A young group of lesbians takes on the queer dating scene in Tampa Bay, Florida, in a new docuseries from Amazon Studios. “Tampa Baes” isn’t the first lesbian-centered unscripted show of its kind — the most notable being Ilene Chaiken’s 2010-2012 Showtime series, “The Real L Word” — though it is a rarity in the larger landscape dominated by mainly heteronormative franchises like “The Real Housewives.” Whether that will be enough for audiences to tune in remains to be seen. The show attracted some early, and presumably unwanted, attention in the form of accusations about colorism and a lack of inclusivity based on promotional materials of the cast.
“Tampa Baes” season one premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.
After fighting to save their family’s taco shop from gentrification in the first season, the Morales clan now faces the terrifying prospect of their grandfather’s deportation. Actor Karrie Martin returns as Ana Morales, a young queer artist who raises complex questions about the intersection of love, activism and identity. Last season, Ana’s relationship with her childhood friend Yessika hit a speed bump when the two faced the realities of being young, brown activists in a changing world. Will the love birds iron out their differences, or will Ana move on to someone new?
“Gentefied” season two premieres on Netflix on Nov. 10.
Inspired by Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, the black-and-white film follows two childhood friends who choose two very different paths. After 12 years apart, Clare (Ruth Negga) and Irene (Tessa Thompson) reunite in 1920s New York at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. The two Black women find themselves living on opposite sides of the color line: Irene moves in the upper echelon of Black society, and Clare, playing with fire, passes for white in her marriage to a wealthy racist. As the film dives into issues around race and identity, the two women see their love for each other grow in new ways.
“Passing” will be available on Netflix on Nov. 10.
Directed by Jesse Moss, “Mayor Pete” shadows former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg during his presidential bid and later appointment as the first openly gay presidential Cabinet member. From his victory in the Iowa caucus to his relationship with his husband, Chasten, the documentary explores the intimate and powerful moments that have led Buttigieg to where he is now.
“Mayor Pete” will be available on Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 12.
'The Power of the Dog'
Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst star in this new Western drama from Jane Campion (“The Piano”). In “The Power of the Dog,” a domineering rancher, Phil Burbank, played by Cumberbatch, faces a crisis of self amid the toxic masculinity and repressed sexuality of Montana in 1925. Phil’s brother brings home a new wife and her son, which spurs the hyper-masculine lead character down a path of cruelty and desire.
“The Power of the Dog” opens in theaters Nov. 17.
The eccentric world of big cats in captivity is returning for its sophomore season. Joe Exotic — the gay, polygamist zookeeper who became a cultural sensation when the show premiered during the early days of the pandemic — is still in prison after being found guilty in a murder-for-hire plot targeting fellow “Tiger King” star Carole Baskin. But that’s not keeping Exotic from the limelight, if the show’s trailer is any indication. It’s unclear if Exotic, Baskin or yet-to-be-introduced characters will be the focus of the new season, but Netflix has promised it will bring the same chaotic energy to the table.
“Tiger King” season two premieres on Netflix on Nov. 17.
'Star Trek: Discovery'
In the next installment of this historically diverse iteration of the cult classic series, the crew faces a massive, invisible anomaly that threatens life across the galaxy. Last season, the show introduced new fan favorites Adira (Blu del Barrio) and Gray (Ian Alexander), the franchise’s first nonbinary and transgender characters, respectively. While the particulars of the new season have remained shrouded in mystery, producers and co-showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise have said Adira and Gray will continue to figure prominently in the “Discovery” universe.
“Star Trek: Discovery” season four premieres on Paramount+ on Nov. 18.
Writer-director Stephen Karam has adapted his Tony-winning play into an unnerving film about existential dread, perfectly timed for the holidays. In “The Humans,” the Blake family reunites on Thanksgiving Day in the run-down basement apartment that Brigid Blake (Beanie Feldstein) shares with her boyfriend, Richard (Steven Yeun), in New York’s Chinatown neighborhood. From crushing breakups to balancing the costs and responsibility of elder care, the family unpacks relatable traumas while trapped in the claustrophobic world of Karam’s chamber drama. The star-studded ensemble also includes June Squibb, Richard Jenkins and Amy Schumer, who plays Brigid’s older sister, Aimee Blake, a sarcastic lesbian who is processing the end of her long-term relationship.
“The Humans” opens in theaters Nov. 24.
In case you missed it ...
'The Eyes of Tammy Faye'
Based on the RuPaul-narrated 2000 cult documentary of the same name, the film stars Jessica Chastain as televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In it, Bakker’s groundbreaking 1985 interview with a gay Christian pastor living with AIDS takes center stage.
"The Eyes of Tammy Faye" is in theaters and available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes.
The three-part docuseries looks back on filmmaker Ry Russo-Young’s childhood during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and her lesbian moms’ historic lawsuit, which played a crucial role in validating the legal existence of LGBTQ families.
"Nuclear Family" is available on HBO Max.
'The Morning Show'
“The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, dramatizes the lives of newsmakers who wake up with America every day. Julianna Margulies joins the latest season as Witherspoon’s love interest — an A-list television anchor who climbed back to the top of her field after being fired for being a lesbian in the late ‘90s.
"The Morning Show" season two is available on Apple TV+.
The lead character in this unabashedly violent film, which won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a gender-bending psychopath with a dangerous attraction to motor vehicles and an apathetic view on human life.
"Titane" is in theaters and available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes (if you have the stomach for it).
'RuPaul's Drag Race U.K.'
The influential drag competition series is back in the United Kingdom, with 12 new queens vying to make herstory — including the franchise’s first-ever cisgender woman contestant. “Drag Race U.K.” always delivers on British humor and campy, mid-tier looks, which have made it one of the most successful international versions of the show.
"RuPaul's Drag Race U.K." season three is available on WOW Presents Plus.
The new talk show centers on the voices and experiences of Black and brown queer people.
"The House" is available on Fox Soul.
The reality show led by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela is back on the road recruiting for one-night-only drag shows across the country.
"We're Here" season two is available on HBO Max.
The new documentary, which was released Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, details gay activists’ yearslong battle to get the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
"Cured" is available on PBS.
Monica Raymund (“Chicago Fire,” “The Good Wife”) stars as Jackie Quiñones, a hedonistic federal agent whose life is thrown into disarray when she discovers the body of a murdered woman. Quiñones’ identity as a queer Latina is notable in the crime genre, in which leads are typically played by white straight men.
"Hightown" season two is available on Starz.