Lauren Blazey
A&E EDITOR

While Summer is typically television’s off season, things are heating up this year for shows featuring queer women. These shows with canon lesbian couples are returning with brand new seasons this May and June. While obviously exciting for the queer community, they each have something for everyone. So whether you’re straight, gay, or a unicorn, here’s a glimpse into some of summer’s most anticipated returning shows.

Orphan Black

Season 5

Where to watch: BBC America, June 10

Why You Should Watch: This show is a trip. The protagonist, Sarah Manning, is a wayward British punk who suddenly discovers that she is actually one of around a dozen identical clones. As Sarah and her fellow clones band together to discover their origins and the science behind their creation, their creators seek to destroy their self-aware science experiments. While the writing, special effects, and cinematography of the show are astounding, the show is truly carried by Tatiana Maslany’s incredible performance as eleven different clones. Maslany disappears so convincingly within each clone that it’s easy to forget you’re watching one woman play the majority of the cast. In almost every aspect, this show will keep you guessing.

Status of Lesbian Couple: The finale of season 4 reunited clone Cosima Niehaus with former Neolution doctor Delphine Cormier. Prior to this, it was unclear whether Delphine survived after she was shot at the end of season 3’s final episode. Upon their reunion, Delphine quickly had to treat Cosima, who was suffering from hypothermia. But, it appears that Cosima pulled through, as in the preview for this coming season, the two were shown dancing together. The beauty of the queer representation shown through this women who love women (wlw) pairing is that these are two incredibly smart and independent women who have formed a relationship of mutual respect. As Cosima says in an episode in season 2, “My sexuality is not the most interesting thing about me.”

Bonus: Sarah Manning’s foster brother Felix is the real MVP of the show as he lightens the tension filled atmosphere with his sarcastic humor and his support of the clones as their “brother sestra.” 

Sense8

Season 2

Where to Watch: Netflix, May 5

Why You Should Watch: Sense8 is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. The show tells the story of eight individuals all across the world who all took their first breath at the same time and are forever linked by their senses. This basically means that these “Sensates” can talk to each other from Iceland to San Francisco as though they were right next to each other. The eight protagonists can also act through each other. For example, when one of them is in danger, Sun, who is trained in martial arts, can fight for them from her cell in South Korea. The intrigue of the plot only grows from here as the Sensates are being hunted by an organization led by a man known as “Whispers.” The organization wishes to eradicate them and every other group of Sensates. However, what keeps me coming back to this show is the way each character supports one another. This show fosters a hope in humanity, such as when the feminine Mexican actor Lito Rodriguez empathizes and fights arm-in-arm with the often hyper-masculine German Wolfgang Bogdanow. Moreover, the vast representation of different cultures, sexualities, and genders on this show is without equal. 

Status of Lesbian Ship: Sense8’s sapphic couple, Nomi Marks and Amanita Caplan, are literally relationship goals. Although on the run from the authorities after Amanita rescued Nomi from a forced lobotomy that Nomi’s mother ordered to “correct” her transgender daughter, these two never let the stress of their situation weaken their relationship. Another win for the LGBT community is that Nomi is played by an actual trans woman, Jamie Clayton. 

Bonus: Not only does this show have two canon queer relationships, but Lito and Hernando, the show’s gay couple, will leave you believing in the courage of one’s heart. 

Wynonna Earp

Season 2

Where to Watch: Syfy, June 9

Why You Should Watch: This is by far the least serious show on this list, but it’s mindless, summer fun. Based off a comic book of the same name, this supernatural western follows the granddaughter of the legendary gunslinger Wyatt Earp as she attempts to break a family curse. The curse causes every single outlaw that Wyatt Earp shot down during his lifetime to resurrect as demons or “Revenants” over and over again. The Revenants can only be killed by Wynonna’s “big ass” gun, Peacemaker. The special effects might be hokey and the writing might be cringey, but the show’s actors have enough charisma that you might even consider stealing a visit to a town called Purgatory. From Agent Dolls of the Black Badge Division, a secret government task force created to protect citizens from the supernatural, to Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp’s best friend turned immortal, you’ll want to saddle up and grab a drink at Shorty’s with this motley crew. 

Status of the Lesbian Couple: Despite fan’s fears going into the season finale of season 1, both members of Wayhaught – Waverly Earp, Wynonna’s younger sister, and Officer Nicole Haught of Purgatory’s finest – are still with the living. After 2016 saw the outraging death of Lexa on The 100 to a stray bullet, a ridiculously overused trope used to kill queer characters, the writers of Wynonna Earp finally got wise and equipped their lesbian character, Nicole Haught with a bulletproof vest.  Fans of Wayhaught did not have long to rejoice in this twist of the fatal trope, however, as season one ended with Waverly turning a gun on her sister after becoming possessed by some sort of dark spirit. Hopefully, this spirit will be exorcised quickly in season 2 and Waverly and Nicole can go back to shooting heart eyes at each other. 

Bonus: Wynonna Earp’s one liners will have you laughing on the floor faster than a Revenant being sent back to hell, such as when she is told not to blow her cover and responds, “I don’t blow jobs without a please first.”

Orange is the New Black

Season 5

Where to Watch: Netflix, Jun. 9

Why You Should Watch: As Orange is the New Black centers around the lives of the inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, it would be easy to assume the show follows an unlikable bunch of characters, but this could not be farther from the truth. In fact, this show is so masterful at turning expectations on their heads. At Litchfield, hardened drug addicts like Nichols, played by Natasha Lyonne, have the biggest hearts, and Uzo Aduba’s mentally ill character “Crazy Eyes” speaks some of the sanest lines. As the show tracks how each character found themselves in incarceration through flashbacks, every inmate and every guard is given a nuanced and complex story. It’s neither possible to completely hate any character, nor possible to completely love any character. 

Status of Lesbian Ship: While there are many wlw ships on Orange is the New Black, Vauseman, or Alex Vause and Piper Chapman, have been the show’s primary pairing. Their relationship has literally been to the SHU and back, but at least at the end of Season 4, they were thick as thieves once again. Although not the healthiest of queer couples, Piper and Alex bring a level of realism to their relationship that is not often seen between lesbian girlfriends on television. As for the fate of the show’s other sapphic ships, it is yet to be seen as to whether Nichols and Morello will finally sail, but unfortunately, the wind has been knocked out of Soso and Poussey’s relationship (too soon?).

Bonus: Kate Mulgrew’s Galina Reznikov, otherwise known as “Red,” steals the show with her fiery hair and scorching personality. If you can’t handle the heat, it’s because Red’s in the kitchen.