7 Shows That Spotlight Queer Love Like ‘Heartstopper’ — And Where to Stream

If you’re a fan of ‘Heartstopper,’ here are the shows you should watch next.

If you’ve already binged season 2 of Heartstopper and need another LGBTQ+-themed show to sink your teeth into, we’ve got you covered. From similarly cutesy love stories to historical dramedies and sci-fi sagas, here are the shows you should stream next. 

Tales of the City’ | Netflix

2019’s Tales of the City successfully revitalizes its predecessor (1993 miniseries of the same name) with a contemporary spin that spotlights the queer community — and the struggles various LGBTQ+ individuals face today. 

Set in present-day San Francisco, the show follows Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney), who returns to the city after leaving 20 years prior. She reunites with her LGBTQ+ family and friends, including the charismatic landlady Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis). Memories surface as waves of nostalgia — mixed with both pings of regret and flashes of glory — come to define the modern-day dynamics. 

The show celebrates diversity all while feeling like a cozy blanket you cuddle up into at the end of the day. It can be a little bit soapy at times, but there’s an intriguing mystery at the center serving as the show’s throughline. It keeps the episodes tied together while allowing each of the various characters to come into the foreground. With Murray Bartlett, Elliot Page, Barbara Garrick, Victor Garber, Charlie Barnett, Paul Gross, and many more rounding out the primary ensemble, each actor gives a compelling performance worthy of a spinoff all their own. 

Smiley’ | Netflix 

Smiley may not win any awards, but if you’re looking for that same adorability factor inherent to Heartstopper, this is the show to start with. An innocent and accidental exchange between strangers Alex and Bruno leaves these two intertwined. They’re attracted to one another, but they couldn’t be more different. They get under each other’s skin, but there’s so much bubbling passion. As often as they want to scream at each other, they can’t resist the urge to tear each other’s clothes off. 

Will they wind up together? Will they date other people who are more similar? Will jealousy keep them coming back for more? Missed opportunities. Failed communication. Fear of vulnerability. It’s cute and a bit predictable, but oh-so lighthearted and binge-able. 

Dickinson’ | Apple TV

Dickinson is very (we repeat very) loosely based on the life of the celebrated poet Emily Dickinson. The series blends historical events with contemporary elements, becoming a genre-defying dramedy boasting a millennial energy within the walls of a period piece. It’s clever, bold, and aspirational. 

The series follows Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) in 19th-century Amherst, Massachusetts as he struggles to find her voice and place in a society with strict gender norms and ultra-traditional, restrictive expectations. As for the queer aspect of the show, that would be Emily’s relationship with her future sister-in-law Susan Gilbert Dickinson (Ella Hunt). The three-season series develops their dynamic slowly — their romantic and emotional connection evolving throughout. 

While Dickinson’s queerness is purely speculative (given its lack of confirmation in historical records), it brings depth to the show that perfectly complements the themes of identity and repression at Dickinson’s core — since queer individuals in the 19th century (and today) remained marginalized, dismissed, and looked down upon as “outside the social standard.” 

Sense8’ | Netflix 

Sense8 may not be as PG as Heartstopper, but if you’re looking for a bit more steam with your queer romance, stream this sci-fi saga. We’ve got clothes flying every which way. Bodies colliding. Heavy petting and heavier breathing. And a lot of thrusting.

The series from the brilliant minds behind The Matrix, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, follows eight individuals from different parts of the world who share a psychic connection — allowing them to tap into each other’s skills and abilities. They can feel each other’s emotions (including desire…hint-hint, nudge-nudge), and must work together to protect each other from an organization out to destroy them. 

As much as the series is a high-octane, action-packed spectacle, it’s also about love. It’s about romance. It’s about finding a community and protecting those who love you for who you are. With several LGBTQ+ members among the “eight connected individuals,” the show spotlights queerness with admiration and sensitivity. 

Love, Victor’ | Hulu 

Taking place in the same cinematic universe as Love, Simon, Love, Victor follows Victor, who is also on a journey of self-discovery, but his family will not be as quick to accept his sexual orientation as Simon’s was. He must navigate a difficult home life, school dramas, and ever-changing friendship dynamics — all while coming to terms with his sexuality and a burning attraction to the high school heartthrob, Benji. 

Love, Victor is a charming series with a handful of swoon-worthy moments, but it also benefits from a sincere approach to adolescence and the queer experience. Sex can be scary. Your first time is exciting but also utterly terrifying – no matter gay or straight. 

Via a mature and complex lens, the show doesn’t dismiss the difficult matters; rather, it handles them with nuance, often giving the audience something to chew on (in between the adorableness). It boasts a saccharine essence a lot of the time, but it never feels inauthentic. It’s also refreshingly unafraid to broach more serious topics. 

Special’ | Netflix 

Actor-writer Ryan O’Connell stars in this hilarious and heartfelt semi-autobiographical series based on his memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves. He stars as Ryan — a gay man with cerebral palsy who decides to dish aside his identity as an accident victim and chase after the life he wants — no hesitations, no shame. After years of dead-end internships and life within the safety of his home (alongside his overprotective mother), he decides to put himself out there, turning his hum-drum life into a chic and glorious existence. 

The show exceptionally balances Ryan’s intersectionality as a member of two marginalized communities. Special sheds light on the ignorant, preconceived notions that society holds about individuals with disabilities, all while retaining a comedic flair. The show uses humor and wit to tackle serious subject matters, putting the world around us under a microscope without getting on a soap box. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, boasting quippy dialogue and a healthy heaping of hookups and romance. Special is about loving yourself and ensuring that you decide what defines who you are. You steer the ship. It’s inspirational meets insightful. 

Sex Education’ | Netflix

While Sex Education isn’t solely about queer love, there are several queer characters that receive a great deal of screen time in the series. Not to mention, it features adolescents in the same age demographic as those featured in Heartstopper, so you’ll get that same high school atmosphere — with the kids at the center and the parents at the periphery. 

The coming-of-age Netflix series follows awkward teenager Otis Milburn, who starts a sex advice business at school with his rebellious friend, Maeve. He, though rather inexperienced himself, uses his Sex Therapist mother’s knowledge and insights to help fellow students navigate their complicated love lives…for cash.

Sex Education is definitely a bit more explicit than Heartstopper, and for sure a lot less cutesy. Characters discuss all aspects of their sex lives (from the glorious to the gritty), so it’s a bit more intense and mature-themed. That being said, the show still benefits from the same adolescent naivete and wonder that defines Heartstopper. It’s just a bit more down and dirty. 


About the author

Josh Lezmi

Josh is an entertainment writer and editor at Thought Catalog.