Essential doc for classes on gender & sexuality

Beyond the Straight and Narrow makes clear that we cannot assume that mainstream representation of LGBTQ people simply improves over time or that we can take any gains seen for granted.”
— Adrienne Shaw | Associate Professor of Media Studies & Production, Temple University

Thanks to hard-won political and social struggles and transformative changes in media technology, the past few years have seen a dramatic increase in LGBTQ representations on U.S. television.

But with these welcome gains has come a fierce right-wing backlash – one that’s moved to the center of American politics and now stands to help shape the 2024 presidential election.

For an accessible entry point into these issues and debates in your classes, don’t miss filmmaker and media scholar Katherine Sender’s powerful new documentary Beyond the Straight and Narrow, the third installment in her groundbreaking series examining the political economy of queer representation on American television.

Beyond the Straight and Narrow is now available on Kanopy through universities and public libraries, in other digital formats, and on DVD.

Featuring leading media scholars, journalists, actors, and activists, Beyond the Straight and Narrow untangles the cultural, economic, and technological forces that helped pave the way for the unprecedented range of queer and transgender representations we see on TV today. It also considers the political implications of these shifts within the context of an accelerating right-wing backlash against LGBTQ visibility in our politics, schools, athletics, and public spaces.

Beyond the Straight and Narrow is an indispensable teaching tool for critically examining the relationship between media representations, corporate power, and long-fought battles over who gets to exist in our national imagination. Ideal for courses in media studies, television history, queer studies, sociology, media and culture, gender studies, and media production.



“The previous Straight and Narrow films established a gold standard for educational docs, and true to its title, Beyond the Straight and Narrow is even better. A wonderful addition to your classroom and/or viewing queue, it ranges across a huge number of LGBTQ+ representations with commanding brilliance, incisive commentary, and a refreshingly welcome focus on intersectional depictions.”
— Jonathan Grey | Hamel Family Distinguished Chair in Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Beyond the Straight and Narrow does an excellent job of exploring how LGBTQ representation in [a] complex and ever-changing world has often shifted for the better, and how it is at once empowering and yet still so fragile across multiple media domains.”
— Yasmin Nair | Writer, Activist, Academic, and co-founder of the radical queer editorial collective Against Equality

“Beautifully explains how mainstream media functions, and for whom. If you want to genuinely, accurately understand queer images today watch [this film].”
— Michael Bronski | Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University and author of A Queer History of the United States

“Richly entertaining as well as informative, Beyond the Straight and Narrow weaves together a complicated account of progress and remaining limitations.”
— Amanda Lotz | Professor at Queensland University and author of The Television Will Be Revolutionized

“Nuanced … Makes clear that we cannot assume that mainstream representation of LGBTQ people simply improves over time or that we can take any gains seen for granted.”
— Adrienne Shaw | Associate Professor of Media Studies and Production at Temple University

“Offers an outstanding compendium of television and streaming shows featuring queer, bisexual, gay, lesbian, trans and nonbinary characters and content, accessibly framed by experts in queer media studies….Will be of great use to secondary school educators as well as those in media studies and LGBTQ+ studies at more advanced levels.”
— Finn Enke | Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, History, LGBTQ+ Studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison

“Taking us on a journey through fictional dramas, reality shows, children’s cartoons, web series, and telenovelas, Beyond the Straight and Narrow proceeds with hope and caution to offer an absorbing take on the complex historical development.”
— Lukas Szulc | Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Culture at the University of Manchester

“Television, historically so suppressive of and hostile towards LGBTQ representations, is now swimming with them. Compelling and entertaining, Beyond the Straight and Narrow offers a clear-eyed, smart, and nuanced account of how we got here and why it matters.”
— Joshua Gamson | Professor of Sociology at University of San Francisco and author of Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity