HBO has always been a pretty progressive channel.
Because they can be. They are a premium channel which gives them the right to show more hardcore content. With a broader range of content comes a broader range of representation and amount of inclusion.
First I will start with OZ. This show was set in a prison and followed the lives of fictional inmates. The show tackled issues such as racism, mental disorder, and rape. The inmates in the prison are almost all heterosexual from various ethnic backgrounds. As the show continues you begin to see these characters unravel and see what lies underneath. Throughout the series multiple homosexual relationships and encounters, both warranted and not, are shown. This was a great look at how things like being gay from various backgrounds operate in a prison setting.
HBO has put out some other shows that have included lesbian and bisexual representation. First would Sex and the City. Much to the dismay of Carrie Bradshaw she will not be the topic of my discussion of the show. I want to take a look at Samantha. The older woman with the sex drive of a teenage boy. She is a sexually liberated older woman who in season 4 develops a relationship with a woman named Maria. This relationship shows Samantha the extent of her sexuality and what it is like. The same sex aspect isn’t why they end it. It’s Samantha’s own insatiable sexual appetite that can’t be pleased.
Girls and True Blood are two more shows that feature characters that both explore and own their own sexual identities. In the former show some of the girls kiss and experiment with each other but I think the real stand out is in Elijah. He blatantly states that he is gay yet he kisses and bangs girls from time to time. I find it interesting because through his character the show is illustrating that sexuality isn’t so cut and dry. Same with the former show. We get Lafayette who is fierce and sassy while remaining intrinsically human. We get Pam who is seen a cold-hearted bitch, but when she turns Tara she finds some warmth. Tara who was straight in her human discovers her appreciation for women in her new life. Namely Pam.
The last show I’m going to talk about is Looking. This short lived series was pretty fantastic. It was raw and unapologetic in the examination of the “gay scene”. With San Francisco as its backdrop the show follows Patrick as he navigates life through the help of his close group of friends. Gay sex is heavily depicted in multiple ways and I am happy. They don’t try to sugarcoat it in any way. They make it just as realistic as heterosexual sex scenes. Gay life is not some taboo to shy away from. HBO gets it and so should everyone else.