In celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, we reminisce about the enduring legacy of LGBTQ+ sitcom characters who have left an indelible mark on pop culture and society throughout the years. These beloved figures, hailing from classics like Friends, Will & Grace, and more recent gems such as Schitt’s Creek and Modern Family, each contributed significantly to their respective series and continue to occupy a special place in our collective consciousness.
With a plethora of characters spanning numerous shows to revisit, let’s dive right into the heart of this narrative…
Ellen Morgan (Ellen)
Throughout five seasons and over 100 episodes, the ’90s sitcom “Ellen” followed Ellen Morgan, portrayed by Ellen Degeneres, as she navigated the ups and downs of life, love, and her career as a bookstore employee turned owner.
Ellen, both as a character and portrayed by the actress herself, left an enduring mark on pop culture and society as a whole with her groundbreaking declaration in the April 1997 two-part episode, “The Puppy Episode”: “Susan, I’m gay.” This pivotal moment in television and cultural history ushered in a new era while normalizing characters that were once considered “nontraditional.”
Will Truman (Will & Grace)
While Eric McCormack believes he might not land the role of Will Truman in today’s world, his portrayal of the character in the late ’90s NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” was flawless. Will was depicted as a young and successful corporate lawyer with hints of borderline OCD tendencies.
The series, thanks in part to Will Truman and Jack McFarland (who we’ll meet shortly), broke new ground for LGBTQ+ representation in television and paved the way for other LGBTQ+ characters and shows in the years to come.
Jack McFarland (Will & Grace)
“Will & Grace” stood as a television touchstone for various reasons, with its remarkable humor and commitment to representation being chief among them. One of the most unforgettable characters from the series was Sean Hayes’ Jack McFarland, Will’s longtime best friend. This vibrant and versatile character played a central role in the show’s 11 seasons and nearly 250 episodes.
Sean Hayes’ portrayal of Jack garnered numerous accolades, including an Emmy, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and many others throughout the show’s run. Even though Jack’s story concluded with the “Will & Grace” finale, he will forever occupy a special place in our hearts.
Mitchell Pritchett & Cameron Tucker (Modern Family)
“Modern Family,” one of the funniest shows on Hulu (and various other streaming services where it’s available), left an indelible mark on the sitcom landscape since its premiere in September 2009. Among its standout characters, we focus today on Mitchell Pritchett, portrayed by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and his boyfriend-turned-husband Cameron Tucker, portrayed by Eric Stonestreet.
What made these characters so impactful, beyond their sheer hilarity, was their introduction of a more modern and open-minded perspective to audiences who may not have encountered a same-sex couple before. For those who grew up in less accepting communities, this marked a significant turning point in television and culture.
David Rose (Schitt’s Creek)
Few modern-day comedies have ingrained themselves more deeply in popular culture than “Schitt’s Creek” during its six-season run. This Canadian sitcom, chronicling the Rose family’s transformation from a life of luxury to one lived in the small town of Schitt’s Creek, provided consistent hilarity thanks to its exceptional writing and unforgettable cast of characters.
At the forefront is David Rose, portrayed by Dan Levy, the overly pampered and pretentious son of Johnny and Moira Rose. He made an instant impact with his trademark catchphrase (despite the actor’s reservations) and his over-the-top escapades. Even though the show has concluded, David remains a ubiquitous presence on the internet through gifs, memes, and videos.
Captain Raymond Holt (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Raymond Holt, portrayed by Andre Braugher, the no-nonsense, stoic, and deadpan captain of the 99th precinct, emerged as one of the funniest characters on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Throughout its eight-season run on Fox and NBC, Holt not only kept the precinct in line and delivered some of the show’s most comical moments but also shattered barriers for LGBTQ+ characters in the medium.
As the proud first African American gay police captain in the NYPD, Captain Holt consistently defied stereotypes and offered a unique perspective on what it meant to be a gay man in the police force.
Carol & Susan (Friends)
Lastly, let’s not forget Carol Willick and Susan Bunch, two of the most memorable supporting characters from “Friends.” Initially introduced as Ross Geller’s ex-wife and her new partner, Carol and Susan would go on to become a significant pair, both within the show’s narrative and in the broader realm of pop culture.
While the portrayal and treatment of LGBTQ+ characters in “Friends” may not align with more contemporary standards, the inclusion of Carol and Susan marked a significant milestone for its time. It’s essential to acknowledge the progress and evolving attitudes in television and culture since then.
This journey through some of the most influential LGBTQ+ characters in sitcoms has been a delightful exploration of their unique qualities. Each character, in their own way, has played a vital role in introducing millions of viewers to diverse perspectives and ways of thinking that they may not have otherwise encountered.