June is Pride Month, a celebration of all things LGBTQIA+, so Showmax has compiled a watchlist of 13 recent series, movies and documentaries anyone can enjoy, regardless of their sexual identity.
In We’re Here, RuPaul’s Drag Race veterans Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela Laquifa Wadley inspire small-town residents from across America to step outside their comfort zones for a night of no-holds-barred drag – and a life-changing journey of self-discovery.
“HBO’s heartfelt We’re Here is the drag show America needs now,” says Salon. “If it sounds like Queer Eye, but make it drag and make it MAGA [Make America Great Again] states, well, it is. It also has a way of upending expectations that even the Fab Five never did… On a deeper level, it’s a show about loving – truly loving – your neighbor.”
Already renewedfor a second season by HBO, the six-part reality show won the 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program, with nominations at the 2020 Emmys, 2021 Queerties, and 2021 International Documentary Association Awards, among others.
At the 2020 Oscars, Pain and Glory was nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Actor, a first-ever nod for Antonio Banderas (Desperado, The Skin I Live In). The Spanish drama also won 69 international awards, including Best Actor for Banderas and Best Soundtrack at Cannes, and was recently named the third best LGBTQIA+ movie of all-time by Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 96% critics rating.
Written and directed by Oscar-winning auteur Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her), Pain and Glory centres on an ageing director (Banderas) as he reflects on the choices he’s made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him. Inspired by Almodóvar’s own life, Pain and Glory also stars Oscar winner Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Volver) and multiple-award winners Asier Etxeandia, Julieta Serrano and Leonardo Sbaraglia.
Time Out says Pain and Glory is “Almodóvar at the peak of his powers”; New York Magazine bills it as “at once the gentlest and most emotionally naked movie Pedro Almodóvar has ever made;” and Rolling Stone proclaims, “Antonio Banderas gives the performance of his career… Pain and Glory, suffused with memory and regret, is one of Almodovar’s greatest films.”
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively at the 2016 Oscars for their roles in Carol, a powerful drama about a married woman in 1950s New York, who risks everything when she embarks on a romance with a younger department store worker. Carol, which was also nominated for Oscars for Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, and Score, won 79 awards worldwide and was recently named the fourth best LGBTQIA+ movie of all-time by Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 94% critics rating.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt and directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Mildred Pierce), Carol also stars Emmy winners Sarah Paulson (Ratched, American Crime Story, American Horror Story) and Kyle Chandler (Bloodline, Friday Night Lights, Super 8).
Little White Lies calls Carol “one of the most beautiful love stories ever told”, while The Telegraph praises the “career-best performance from Cate Blanchett” and The Evening Standard calls the film a “masterpiece.”
Nicco Annan was nominated for a 2021 Queerty as Uncle Clifford, the non-binary owner of the Pynk, the strip club at the centre of P-Valley, which was also nominated for Best TV Series at the Queerties and Best Drama Series at the GLAAD Media Awards.
P-Valley was the eighth highest rated TV show of 2020, according to Rotten Tomatoes, and it set a new record on the Starz App for the most viewed series premiere ever. As Rotten Tomatoes’ 100% critics consensus says, “A stunning, lyrical piece of neon noir, P-Valley explores the unseen lives of strippers in Mississippi through Katori Hall’s singular gaze, celebrating the beauty of the craft without sugarcoating the challenges.”
Indiewire hailed it as “unlike anything ever seen on TV… the series knows exactly what it wants to be: a sexy, fast-paced drama that sets out to de-stigmatize the world of stripping and shatter misconceptions.”
As TV Guide says, “P-Valley blends the profane, the sacred, and the politics of the almighty dollar to tell engrossing stories about black women on the margins who use their bodies to keep families and communities afloat. It’s also one of the year’s best new shows.”
Adapted from an autobiographical 2006 novel by André Carl van der Merwe, Moffie is set in South Africa, 1981, with the white minority government embroiled in a conflict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime. The threat of communism and die swart gevaar is at an all-time high. But that’s not the only danger Nicholas faces. He must survive the brutality of the army – something that becomes even more difficult when a connection is sparked between him and a fellow recruit.
Since premiering at Venice in 2019, Moffie has been nominated for the 2021 BAFTA (British Academy Film Awards) for Outstanding Debut and won the Mermaid Award at Thessaloniki and the Film Critics Special Jury Prize at Dublin.
The film has a 97% critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes, with Variety raving, “South African auteur Oliver Hermanus makes his masterpiece with this brutal but radiant story of young gay desire on the Angolan war front… establishing him quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker… Both a shiver-delicate exploration of unspoken desire and a scaringly brilliant anatomy of white South African masculinity. It fair takes your breath away.”
Set in the beautiful but bleak Cape Cod, Hightown follows Jackie Quiñones, a hard-partying, lesbian addict whose journey to sobriety is overshadowed by a murder investigation.
Already renewed for a second season, Hightown stars Teen Choice nominees Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.’s Gabriela Dawson, and Lie to Me’s Ria Torres), James Badge Dale (The Departed, 24), and Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break). Hightown has an 80% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with numerous critics praising Monica Raymund’s stellar performance, and was nominated for Best TV Series at the 2021 Queerties.
Created by The Mentalist and Gotham writer Rebecca Cutter, with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Black Panther, Mudbound) directing, the murder mystery is executive produced by multiple-Emmy winner Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s produced everything from the CSI franchise and worldwide reality phenomenon The Amazing Race to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Armageddon.
Filmed over five years in Kansas City, Transhood follows four kids – beginning at ages 4, 9, 12, and 15 – in a never-before-told chronicling of growing up transgender in the heartland of America. Directed by multi-award-winner Sharon Liese, the HBO documentary won the Audience Award at the 2020 AFI Docs Festival and has an 86% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where it was recently listed as one of 40 Essential LGBTQ+ Documentaries.
The Hollywood Reporter hailed Transhood as “gentle and absorbing,” adding, “Filmed cinema verité-style over five years, starting in 2015, Transhood follows four Kansas City families in various stages of this conversely agonizing and rewarding process. Offering no narration, expert talking heads or text interstitials, Liese forgoes contextualizing the culture wars and instead lets her subjects speak for themselves…”
Variety praises the documentary as “engrossing” and “surprising,” adding, “Transhood maintains an artful bifocal perspective, capturing both youthful impatience and parental whiplash.”
Vida follows two very different Mexican-American sisters who return to their childhood neighbourhood after their mother’s death, only to discover they’ve inherited her bar and apartment – in a three-way split with her wife, who they didn’t know existed.
Vida has captivated the critics, earning a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes for all three seasons, where the Season 3 critics consensus reads, “A bittersweet farewell that’s entirely too short, Vida‘s final season is as messy, beautiful, and inspirational as life itself.” Vida was nominated for a 2021 GLAAD Media Award as Best Drama Series, earned fourth place on Time Magazine’s Best of 2019 list for Season 2, and won the Audience Award at SXSW 2018 for Season 1.
As AVClub says, “Vida is rightly lauded for its excellent performances, incisive writing, and commitment to centering queer, female and non-binary, and Latinx voices both in front of and behind the camera. But you know what? It’s also one of the best-looking shows on TV. The cinematography is top-tier. The direction is impeccable. It’s beautiful, immersive, often dreamlike filmmaking.”
I May Destroy You centres on Arabella (Michaela Coel), a carefree, self-assured Londoner with a group of great friends, a boyfriend in Italy, and a burgeoning writing career. But when her drink is spiked with a date-rape drug, she must question and rebuild every element of her life.
Paapa Essiedu was nominated for a 2021 Best Actor BAFTA for his role as Arabella’s gay best friend Kwame, while I May Destroy You won the 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, as well as 18 other awards, including BAFTAs for Best Mini-series and Best Actress (Coel).
I May Destroy You was named Rotten Tomatoes’ best-reviewed series of 2020 in two categories: mini-series and new series. The half-hour drama has a 98% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “I May Destroy You is at once brave and delicate, untangling the trauma of sexual assault with dark humour and moments of deep discomfort, all held together on the strength of Michaela Coel’s undeniable talent.”
From Oscar nominee Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, ranked second on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the best LGBTQIA+ movie of all-time), We Are Who We Are follows a group of teens growing up on an American Army base outside of Venice, Italy, struggling to find their own identities as they move into young adulthood.
The eight-part HBO series has an 89% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Times calls it “a finely detailed, living fresco of libido and intoxication, all these teenagers inhabiting their bodies as if they were just-unwrapped birthday presents,” while Variety says, “It’s so visceral as to become unsettling — but what else is being a teenager like, if not immersive, visceral and unsettling?”
The cast includes MTV Movie Award winner Jack Dylan Grazer (It, Shazam!), Grammy winner Kid Cudi (Westworld), Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny (Big Love, American Horror Story), Francesca Scorsese (yes, she’s Martin Scorsese’s daughter, and started acting in his films The Aviator and The Departed) and breakout star Jordan Kristine Seamón, who was nominated for Best Female Performance at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
Golden Globe winner America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), Emmy nominees Ben Feldman (Silicon Valley), Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall) and Colton Dunn (Key and Peele), and Nichole Sakura (Shameless) are back at work at supersized megastore Cloud 9. The new season of the ever-popular workplace comedy opens with immigration officers coming for Mateo (Nico Santos, nominated for Critics Choice Awards two years in a row for the role) – who is the main reason the series earned its third GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series this year.
The fifth season has racked up a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and features guest stars like Screen Actors Guild winner Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) and Emmy nominees Jason Ritter (A Million Little Things) and Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live). In terms of laughs per minute and laughs per character, no show comes close to touching Superstore‘s large cast,” says Decider. “This is the biggest, funniest cast since The Office, and they are at the height of their power.”
Based on Crystal Moselle’s critically acclaimed feature Skate Kitchen, HBO’s half-hour series Betty is back for a second season as it continues to follow a diverse group of young women navigating their lives through New York’s predominantly male-oriented skateboarding scene. The comedy stars Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Nina Moran, Ajani Russell, and Rachelle Vinberg, who all reprise their roles from the original film.
Betty has a 97% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where Season 1 was the fourth best-reviewed young adult series of 2020. As the critics consensus there puts it, “Earnest, audacious, and effortlessly cool, Bettycaptures the spirit of skating and friendship with style.”
“Betty looks like how being a teenager feels,” says Variety about Season 1, “…with such visceral verve that you can practically feel the wind whipping through your own hair through the screen.” They also praise the performances, saying, “Every actor is … so immediately comfortable in their roles and rhythms that the show often feels more like a documentary than a scripted show. But it is, and an especially well-plotted one given that it only has six episodes to give everyone a decently satisfying arc.”
Black Girl Nerds adds, “One of the most exciting parts of the show is its depiction of normalized queer romance,” something Vogue echoes, saying, “The five stars of Betty are predominantly women of colour, several of them queer, but the show engages these realities naturalistically: Shy documentarian Honeybear (Moonbear)’s romance with an alluring fellow skater girl is treated as just that: a romance, with realistic ups and downs, rather than a teaching moment for the audience about queer love.”
A 2021 Queerties nominee for Best Documentary, Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn takes an unflinching look at the life and death of infamous attorney Roy Cohn, who first gained prominence by prosecuting Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in what came to be known as the “atomic spies” case.
This riveting profile chronicles Cohn’s life from the late 1950s as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy, when he first began wielding political power, through the 1980s, when he became a darling of the Reagan White House, a rabid anti-homosexuality activist and political mentor to Donald J. Trump before meeting his death from AIDS in 1986. The film follows key periods of Cohn’s life, including his time in Provincetown, MA, where he was considerably more open about his closeted sexuality than in other settings, and where he shared a house with novelist Norman Mailer.
“Roy Cohn made his name prosecuting and pushing for the execution of my grandparents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg,” says director Ivy Meeropol. “Many years later he became Donald Trump’s lawyer, mentor and close friend. If there was ever a time to reflect on how we got here, it is now.”