“Behind her back she’s gentleman Jack/A Yorkshire lady of renown” and she’s back for a second season! Gentleman Jack, currently streaming on HBO Max, is finally returning and Anne Lister is still shaking up the strict status quo of 1800s England. Based on the diaries of the real Anne Lister detailing her lesbian relationships (sometimes in explicit detail, though written in code), the series follows Anne (Suranne Jones) as she manages her uncle’s estate, wards off men who are trying to steal her family’s coal, and begins a relationship with Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle). In season two, Anne and Ann move in together and attempt to set up their status as a power couple.
If you’re not caught up on Season 1, now’s the time. The first episode of Season 2, “Faith is All,” will be available beginning April 25. And if you’re craving more LGBTQ+ period pieces, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to keep you satisfied until the next episode airs.
Originally based on the book Fingersmith, which takes place in England in the late 1800s, The Handmaiden is a reinvented version set during the 1930’s Japanese occupation of Korea. In the film, Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-ri) is hired as a handmaiden for a Japanese heiress named Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee). However, Lady Hideko doesn’t know that Sook-Hee is actually a pickpocket who was hired by the clever Count Fujiwara to convince Lady Hideko to marry him instead of her wealthy uncle so that he can inherit Lady Hideko’s fortune. Things don’t exactly go to plan when Sook-Hee begins to develop some deeper feelings for Lady Hideko. The film has been a favorite among critics and audiences alike.
Stream it on: Amazon Prime
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, which was loosely based on Highsmith’s own life, Carol takes place during the holiday season of 1952 when aspiring photographer Therese (Rooney Mara) meets Carol (Cate Blanchett) who is going through a nasty divorce. The two quickly fall in love, but their lives are complicated by the social confines of the 1950s and Carol’s garbage ex husband. Carol is a true emotional rollercoaster, and it’s become so popular that there is even a fandom called “the Cult of Carol.”
Stream it on: Apple TV, Tubi, and Pluto TV
It’s a Sin
While it feels like just yesterday gigantic perms and neon workout wear was all the rage, the 1980s actually took place over 30 years ago. It’s a Sin falls squarely in that time period and follows a group of gay men who move to London in 1981. Over the course of the series, the besties support each other through their various trials and tribulations, all while living under the growing threat of the HIV/AIDS crisis. The five episodes are a mixture of hilarious, heartwarming, and heart-wrenching moments.
Stream it on: HBO Max
While The Favourite is not focused solely on an LGBTQ+ relationship, one is prominently featured. The film begins when Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) comes to the Queen’s palace to visit her cousin, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and secure a position at court. Since Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) is ill and has no interest in taking an active role in governing, she relegates her leadership duties to Lady Sarah. Abigail is given a thankless job in the kitchen, but she quickly figures out a way to work her way into Queen Anne’s inner circle. Both Abigail and Lady Sarah fight for the Queen’s love, and not just in a metaphorical sense—there are a few steamy scenes between the ladies. The Favourite was nominated for multiple awards thanks to its dry wit and its leading actresses’ impressive performances.
Stream it on: Apple TV (for rent)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
The plot for this acclaimed French film is simple: Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint a portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a wealthy young woman who is engaged to a nobleman. Héloïse has no desire to get married or pose for a portrait, so Marianne poses as her walking companion so that she can memorize her features. The pair eventually fall in love, but since this is the 1700s, they cannot fully express it. Portrait of a Lady on Fire was the first film directed by a woman to win the Queer Palm at Cannes. It’s a moving story that never exploits its leads for shock and instead handles their relationship in a nuanced manner.
Steam it on: Hulu
Christopher and His Kind
Based on the autobiography of Christopher Isherwood (he wrote Goodbye to Berlin, which served as the inspiration for the musical Cabaret), Christopher and his Kind follows Isherwood’s time spent in early 1930s Berlin. The film details Isherwood’s friendship with underground singer Jean Ross (who inspired the character of Sally Bowles in Cabaret), his relationship with Casper, who, much to Isherwood’s horror, becomes a Nazi, and his relationship with his ex-boyfriend, Heinz. Matt Smith stars as Isherwood in one of his most underrated performances, and the film itself takes an in-depth look at Berlin as the Nazis rise to power.
Stream it on: BritBox
Like It’s a Sin, Pose is also set in the 1980s, and while the two portray the HIV/AIDS crisis, they do so in different ways. Pose is centered around the New York City Ball Scene, and centers on a number of trans women (played by trans women). The series sheds light on an important moment in queer history that is often not discussed and for the most part focuses on people of color. RuPaul owes a lot to the New York City Ball Scene portrayed in Pose, much of which is referenced on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Stream it on: Hulu
While Veneno isn’t entirely a period piece (some scenes are set in modern day), La Veneno is such a queer icon that we’re counting it. Veneno chronicles the life of Spanish transgender singer and personality Cristina Ortiz, aka, La Veneno. The series begins with Veneno’s childhood in the 1960s that was not easy, to her rise to fame in the 1990s and finally to her modern day life as she is interviewed by fellow trans journalist Valeria Vegas, whose real-life counterpart did write a biography about La Veneno. The series is a beautiful look at one of Spain’s most important LGBTQ+ activists.
Stream it on: HBO Max