Are you tired of seeing ethnic groups on television stereotyped or ignored? Are you saddened by the common occurrences of LGBTQIA+ characters sidelined or killed off? From the Civil Rights Movement to the age of Twitter hashtags, pop culture has shown to be a strong force in social change, in the United States and beyond.
A viral hashtag #BlackLivesMatter started a movement and movie stars, singers, and professional athletes are taking a stand in equal pay and opportunity.
It is hard to deny pop culture, with television in particular, hasn’t made an impact. It normalized what was seen as abnormal. Ellen Degeneres became what many consider their first lesbian friend and Will and Grace helped bring the LGBTQIA+ community into people’s living room. Reality television opened doors wide open when in 1992 The Real World showed teens across the country real people with wildly different backgrounds versus the standard white-American middle class family television mostly had to offer — and unfortunately still has to offer.
Although television stubbornly steers away from fully diverse and equal TV shows, progress has been made. In 2015 advocacy by Asian American groups cleared the path for the ABC show, Fresh Off the Boat, the first network show to feature an Asian family in more than 20 years. Numerous LGBTQIA+ characters are featured in a variety of hit shows including Orphan Black, Modern Family, The 100 and Orange is the new Black, among many others. And shows like Black-ish address tough subjects like police brutality.
The landscape is changing, however, and while network TV certainly still makes impacts, a whole new medium is gaining power: web series.
When TV doesn’t give what people want, people make their own TV. Whether it is a drama or comedy aimed at being relatable, a satire aimed at challenging hypocrisies, or a documentary pointed at the exact people otherwise misunderstood, these web series charge full force into the fight for social justice.
Her Story, an Emmy nominated series, tells the story of two transgender women, played by Jen Richards and Angelica Ross, as they navigate their desires and identities.
‘The ‘Other’ Love Story’
The ‘Other’ Love Story is said to be India’s first lesbian love story. Set in the 1990’s, writer and director Roopa Rao says it is “a tribute to our teenage years”.
‘The Gay and Wondrous life of Caleb Gallo’
Reminiscent of Will and Grace, The Gay and Wondrous life of Caleb Gallo follows the complexities of friendly and romantic relationships.
Tired of the very few Asian characters on television, Flat 3 Productions, three Kiwi women, decided to do something about. Writing and starring in a host of comedy sketches, Flat 3 Productions is one of the many Asian centered web series on YouTube.
An ongoing web series that specifically brings up topics of police and racial profiling. Another popular series by the same people, Issa Rae Productions, is a love story called First.
‘Danny the Manny’
A short but sweet series, Danny the Manny explore gender fluidity in children.
Made by the people from Funny or Die, Dark Justice takes a satiric turn in looking at race and police brutality.
Short but very funny, ADVOCATES is about a powerful and dysfunctional LGBT advocacy group.
Halal in the Family
Aasif Mandvi, from The Daily Show, stars in a new American family comedy — that also happens to be Muslim.
Although politics have greatly changed since the two years Trailing premiered, this series explores a dysfunctional political campaign.
Actor Ellen Page, and her best friend Ian Daniel, go on a journey exploring the LGBTQIA+ cultures around the world. The full series can be found here.
The Secret Life of Muslims
Short documentaries that give an inside look of being Muslim in the United States.
The Pearl of Africa
The Pearl of Africa is a about Cleopatra Kambugu, a 28 year old Ugandan transgender girl during the Ugandan LGBT movement.