December is delivering powerful queer cinema, blockbuster hits, the revival of a beloved TV show and, of course, tons of holiday content. Here is a list of upcoming and recently released LGBTQ-inclusive shows and films to watch as the clock counts down to the end of 2021.
'Queen of the Universe'
A global drag adventure is headed to Paramount+. As many as 14 drag superstars, representing 10 countries, will battle it out in front of live audiences in the new “Queen of the Universe” singing competition. Contestants include familiar faces such as “American Idol” alum Ada Vox and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” all-star Jujubee. Sitting on the star-studded judging panel are Vanessa Williams, singer Leona Lewis, longtime “Drag Race” judge Michelle Visage and “All Stars” season three winner, Trixie Mattel.
“Queen of the Universe” season one premieres on Paramount+ on Dec. 2.
'Single All the Way'
Netflix is gifting audiences with its first gay holiday rom-com, “Single All The Way.” Concerned that he’ll be judged for being single, Peter (Michael Urie) recruits best friend, Nick (Philemon Chambers), to pose as his boyfriend during the holidays with his family. Peter quickly finds himself in a complicated love triangle when his mom sets him up on a blind date with her spin instructor (Luke Macfarlane). Get ready for Christmas-themed romantic hijinks from a cast of campy comedy legends who include Kathy Naijmy, Jennifer Robertson, Barry Bostwick and Jennifer Coolidge herself.
“Single All the Way” premieres on Netflix on Dec. 2.
'The Bitch Who Stole Christmas'
RuPaul has assembled the largest-ever cast of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni for “The Bitch Who Stole Christmas.” In the film, an overworked fashion journalist is sent to a holiday-obsessed town by her editor — played by RuPaul, naturally — in search of a big story. Anyone familiar with “Drag Race” acting challenges can guess what comes next: a ball, cutthroat housewives and a plot to overthrow Christmas. The 20 queens who signed on to drag up the holidays include Ginger Minj, “Canada’s Drag Race” host Brooke Lynn Hytes, Manila Luzon, Gottmik and the most recent “All Stars” winner, Kylie Sonique Love. Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Ross Matthews and Kim Petras also join in the festivities.
“The Bitch Who Stole Christmas” premieres on VH1 on Dec. 2.
From Paul Verhoeven — the prolific director behind cult classics “Showgirls,” Basic Instinct,” “RoboCop” and more — “Benedetta” features 17th-century lesbian nuns, irreverent comedy and over-the-top nudity. When a young nun, Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira), is tormented by religious-themed erotic visions, she becomes entangled with a woman who has joined the convent to escape her abusive father. Together, they grab power and live in Sapphic bliss until Benedetta’s God complex threatens to ruin them both. The film is loosely based on Judith C. Brown’s 1986 nonfiction book “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy,” though Verhoeven seems to be more much more interested in farce than history.
“Benedetta” debuts in U.S. theaters Dec. 3.
The animated documentary “Flee” centers on a man identified as Amin Nawabi, a refugee from Afghanistan who left his country for a new life in Denmark, as he shares a painful hidden past ahead of marrying his soon-to-be husband. The film, which won a grand jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has generated a fair amount of Oscar buzz since it was announced as the official Danish entry. “Flee” was written by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, in partnership with Nawabi, and executive-produced by actors Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”), who voice the English-language version.
“Flee” premieres in U.S. theaters Dec. 3.
“Girls Trip” writer Tracey Oliver tells a more personal story in the new comedy “Harlem.” Meagan Good, Grace Byers, Shoniqua Shandai and Jerrie Johnson star as best friends navigating their 30s and chasing their dreams while living in the historic Black, New York neighborhood of Harlem. Johnson plays Tye, a tech entrepreneur with an alpha personality, who runs a successful queer dating app but struggles to be vulnerable in relationships. Tye is joined by fashion designer Quinn (Byers), singer Angie (Shandai) and adjunct professor Camille (Good). Behind the scenes, big-name producers such as Amy Poehler and Pharrell Williams and recurring guest characters like Whoopi Goldberg add even more star power.
“Harlem” season one premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 3.
'Coming Out Colton'
After multiple attempts to find love in “The Bachelor” universe, and a lot of speculation about his self-professed virginity, Colton Underwood came out as gay this year in an interview on “Good Morning America.” The former NFL player immediately received both praise and criticism, with some accusing him of attempting to capitalize on his sexuality. Netflix’s reaction was to give him an unscripted show, “Coming Out Colton.” The series chronicles the story of Underwood coming out, including the controversy it created.
“Coming Out Colton” season one premieres on Netflix on Dec. 3.
'And Just Like That'
And just like that, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are together again. In the new “Sex and the City” revival, the trio of now fiftysomething friends deal with life, love and friendship in New York City (again). Alongside the three returning actresses — Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon — a handful of beaus and best friends reprise their original roles. Though Kim Cattrall declined to rejoin the franchise as fan-favorite Samantha, stirring controversy. The cast of “And Just Like That“ is filled out with a slew of new members, including Sarita Choudhury, Nicole Ari Parker, Isaac Powell and Sara Ramirez, as a queer, nonbinary podcaster and comedian.
“And Just Like That” season one premieres on HBO Max on Dec. 9.
'West Side Story'
Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated adaptation of the Broadway musical “West Side Story” stars Rachel Zegler in her feature film debut as Maria and Ansel Elgort as Tony. The original musical was the brainchild of some of the 20th century’s biggest names in theater: writer Arthur Laurents, composer Leonard Bernstein, director-choreographer Jerome Robbins and lyricist-composer Stephen Sondheim (the film gives cinephiles and theatergoers an opportunity to mourn Sondheim’s death recently). And, for an extra dose of nostalgia, Rita Moreno, who won best supporting actor for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 film adaptation, returns in a new role.
“West Side Story” will be available on HBO Max and in theaters Dec. 10.
The claws are coming out for one more round. TNT’s crime series starring Niecy Nash is ending the year with its fourth and final season, closing the book on five manicurists in Florida who turn money laundering into a women-run crime empire. “Claws” — which also stars Carrie Preston, Judy Reyes (as lesbian enforcer “Quiet Ann”), Karrueche Tran, Dean Norris (as bisexual crime boss “Uncle Daddy”) and Evan Daigle (as Uncle Daddy’s boy toy, Toby) — will kick off the season with a two-hour premiere.
“Claws” season four premieres on TNT on Dec. 19.
'The Matrix Resurrections'
Set 20 years after the last film in the franchise, “The Matrix Resurrections” finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) living as an everyday citizen, named Thomas A. Anderson, who is seemingly unaware of his past adventures as the Chosen One — and his time with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). When his old friend Morpheus shows up offering him the red pill, Neo will once again have to choose whether to open his mind to the Matrix. Joining Reeves and Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith reprises her role as Niobe, alongside a collection of new cast members, including Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Lana Wachowski, one half of the trans sister duo behind the original “Matrix” trilogy, directs the film, which she co-wrote with “Sense8” collaborators David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon. Last year, Lily Wachowski shared in a Netflix interview that the original series was intended to be a trans allegory: “The Matrix stuff was all about the desire for transformation, but it was all coming from a closeted point of view.”
“The Matrix Resurrections” will be available on HBO Max and in U.S. theaters Dec. 22.
Detective Chief Inspector Amy Silva (“Gentleman Jack” star Suranne Jones) is tasked with investigating a mysterious death aboard the HMS Vigil, a ballistic missile submarine. But the inquiry quickly puts her at odds with the officers onboard and the Royal Navy at large, and it becomes clear that something sinister is lurking deep beneath the ocean — where she also happens to be trapped. On land, Amy’s partner and love interest, played by “Game of Thrones” star Rose Leslie, doesn’t fare any better. "Vigil” is a thrilling, claustrophobic crime drama that originally aired on BBC One but is making its way to the U.S. this month.
“Vigil” will be available on Peacock on Dec. 23.
Written and directed by Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar, “Parallel Mothers” is about two women, Janis (Penélope Cruz) and Ana (Milena Smit), who meet in the hospital while giving birth. The women are bonded by motherhood and tragedy, developing a relationship that fluctuates between maternal, platonic and sexual. In the background, a storyline about the brutality under Franco’s fascist regime plays out. While many male directors have attempted to make Sapphic romances, Almodóvar is one of the few to produce something as political, complex and moving — and Penélope Cruz never shines so bright as in an Almodóvar.
“Parallel Mothers” opens in U.S. theaters Dec. 24.
The hosts of “Queer Eye” head to the Lone Star State for season six of the most affirming show on television. Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness and Karamo Brown don denim and cowboy boots in the show’s first look from Netflix, teasing what will surely be a season to remember. The new iteration of the beloved early aughts makeover series has had a highly successful run since it first aired in 2018, grabbing nine Emmys to date.
“Queer Eye” season six premieres on Netflix on Dec. 31.
In case you missed it…
Co-created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo (“Queer as Folk”), the groundbreaking series follows Sabi Mehboob (Baig), a gender-fluid, Pakistani Canadian millennial who straddles various identities as a bartender at a queer bar/bookstore.
“Soft Of” season one is available on HBO Max.
'Tick, Tick… Boom!'
Lin-Manuel Miranda directs the film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s play about a talented young composer living in New York. In a role previously played onstage by Miranda, Andrew Garfield stars as Larson, who died at the age of 35 and won a posthumous Pulitzer for his rock musical about losing friends to the AIDS epidemic, “Rent.”
“Tick, Tick… Boom!” is available on Netflix.
The new iteration of “Gossip Girl” returned Thanksgiving Day, kicking off part two of its first season. Aki (Evan Mock) is navigating understanding his bisexuality after his father outs him on TV, while Max (Thomas Doherty) is coming to terms with having feelings for both Aki and his own girlfriend. Will this new love triangle slow down the Upper East Side’s resident playboy?
“Gossip Girl” season one is available on HBO Max.