For years, most gay characters on TV were the go-to prototypes for comic relief in sitcoms — think Will and Grace's Jack McFarland or Stanford and Anthony on Sex and the City. But on the U.S. version of Skins, the smart, sexy lesbian cheerleader Tea is easily poised to be the breakout character on the show. Her counterpart from the original British series, a gay (male) teen named Maxie, struggled with his homosexuality and played more of a supporting role. In MTV's version, Tea blazes onto the scene swigging mini bottles of vodka between class, masturbating to Audrey Hepburn posters and asserting she doesn't want a relationship because "No one matches up to me." But her softer side eventually peeks through in a tender scene where she learns her dementia-ridden grandmother is also gay.
Here are 14 more characters from 11 other shows that have helped to make a groundbreaking role like Tea's possible on TV.
By Sarene Leeds