Last August, Warrior Nun executive producer Dean English announced what many fans of queer TV shows — particularly those led by WLW (or women-loving women) — would consider a modern miracle: a beloved, tragically cancelled queer TV show is coming back.
And Warrior Nun isn’t just getting new episodes. Fans are set to enjoy a total of three new movies, plus an entire cinematic universe around the halo bearer Ava Silva and the Order of the Cruciform Sword.
The news is a breath of fresh air amid waves of queer TV cancellations, which disproportionately affect WLW-led series. And if we had our own way, this type of TV resurrection wouldn’t be as rare as it is. Here are 4 WLW-led cancelled shows that deserve it, too.
A League of Their Own (2022) – Amazon Prime
Will Graham and Abbi Jacobson’s A League of Their Own, a show about women baseball players in the 1940s, is a homerun of a series.
Exploring found family and queerness against a backdrop of racial and sexual discrimination that feels eerily current for a period drama, this reimagining of the 1992 Penny Marshall classic film is well-researched, well-written, and well-acted. It’s gotten the awards to show for it, as well as a dedicated fan base across the globe.
In a perfect world, this show would’ve easily gotten the whole nine innings. Instead, Amazon Prime broke our hearts two times.
The first, back in March, was when they announced that the series was renewed for a measly four episodes, reportedly due to production cost. Fans organized trending daily hashtags, petitions, and even an actual plane to fly over Amazon’s Culver City headquarters to get the series #MoreThanFour.
The second heartbreak came five months later, when Amazon ultimately cancelled the series. Jacobson has spoken out about the studio’s “bullshit and cowardly” move to blame it on the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, while Graham has expressed that the team would be happy to continue the show if they find a way “to do it well.”
If that ever happens, imagine what a Warrior Nun-style resurrection could be: We’d get to see Carson and Greta reunite, witness Max shine on the mound, cheer Jo on with the South Bend Blue Sox, and watch Jess, Lupe, Esti, and the rest of the Peaches grow together, season after season.
Paper Girls (2022) – Prime Video
Another Amazon Prime show that deserves so much more than it got is Stephany Folsom’s Paper Girls, a sci-fi drama about four girls who, while delivering newspapers in 1988, get caught up in a war between two time-traveling groups. This turns a regular paper route into an extraordinary adventure to save the world, and brings the girls face-to-face with their future selves.
In theory, Paper Girls could’ve been the Amazon Prime version of Netflix’s Stranger Things, and the comparisons were certainly made by critics due to its retro sci-fi plot. There’s the gritty coming-of-age storylines, wild twists and turns, and a queer love story — supported by a thought-provoking script, fantastic action scenes, and commendable acting from the show’s young stars alongside Ali Wong.
Paper Girls even comes with a built-in fan base thanks to its source material, an award-winning graphic novel of the same name by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. This also means that there’s so much more edge-of-your-seat material to explore beyond the eight episodes of the show’s first season.
However, barely a month after the show hit TV screens, Amazon Prime decided that Paper Girls’ first season will be its last.
Never mind that Paper Girls’ less-than-ideal ratings are absolutely Amazon Prime’s own fault. After all, it did give the sci-fi production an incredibly small budget, timed its release to compete with the already established Stranger Things, and poured all their marketing money to LOTR: The Rings Of Power.
No hate to LOTR, obviously, but it speaks to the lack of effort on the studios’ part that I, a fan of the original comic book series, barely got to know there was a TV adaptation before it was summarily axed.
And what a shame that is, given how much the show is able to explore — life choices, sexuality, and family issues, among others — in just eight episodes. The folks behind the show have so many plans for future seasons, and it’s up to the TV gods to make a resurrection happen.
Willow (2022-2023) – Disney+
Willow, a Disney+ high fantasy adventure series that continues the story of the ‘80s cult classic film, gives us what WLW fans have wanted for ages: a queer Disney princess.
Kit Tanthalos, princess of Tir Asleen, is headstrong, roguish, and prefers armor to ball gowns. She’s also down bad for her best friend Jade, a loyal and level-headed knight-in-training. Their relationship — tested on a dangerous quest to save Kit’s brother, Prince Airk — is at the center of this Lucasfilm series. And unlike too many other fantasy shows, Willow doesn’t queerbait.
Alongside its strong WLW storyline, the show also offers plenty of action, adventure, humor, and whimsy, exploring a world full of mystical creatures based on the lore of the 1988 film.
Too bad Willow was axed four months after its November 2022 premiere. What’s worse, you can’t even watch it on Disney+ anymore. The show was removed from the platform in a cost-cutting initiative — code for studios refusing to pay residuals to writers and actors — under Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Series creator Jon Kasdan, however, remains hopeful that more work on the show is still possible, especially as a Season 2 has already been written. Given that the world of Willow is an important part of the Lucasfilm library of intellectual property, the door might just be opened in the future. But until then, we’ll just enjoy the talents of Ruby Cruz, who plays Princess Kit, in the recently released Bottoms.
Gentleman Jack (2021-2022) – HBO
HBO’s Gentleman Jack is among our tragically long list of queer TV shows cancelled way too soon, and it tells the story of landowner, industrialist, and queer icon Anne Lister in 1830s Yorkshire.
Based on the lengthy diaries of the real-life Anne Lister, who chronicled a lifetime of lesbian relationships, the show features Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle as Anne Lister and Ann Walker, who must navigate a queer relationship in a decidedly homophobic era.
The series was co-produced by HBO and BBC One, and premiered in April 2019. A second season was released in April 2022, but the show was canceled by HBO three months later.
The news was shocking to the folks behind Gentleman Jack, as the show was well-received by both critics and viewers in the UK. Across the pond, however, the show was among HBO’s lowest-rated original series, but that might also be because the platform shot themselves in the foot by airing it on Monday nights.
Nevertheless, the HBO decision doesn’t mean the BBC One can’t continue with the series with another co-producer. Series creator Sally Wainwright has shared that there is enough material for a third season.
“We had the diary transcribed for a possible third series,” Wainwright said. “I haven’t read them all yet because I didn’t want to tempt fate, but I know a lot of what’s in there, and it’s good stuff, it’s juicy stuff. It would make great drama.”
This signifies a little hope for the show’s queer viewers, who cite Gentleman Jack as a life-changing production.