Pet Showstoppers: 5 Times the Real Stars of Your Favorite Queer-Inclusive Show Were the Animals

Sarah Bricker Hunt

Human actors are great and all, but as any animal lover will attest, a well-placed puppy or a noble equine can elevate a good show to must-see status. If you watch reruns of old “Frasier” episodes strictly because you need an Eddie fix to brighten your mood, this list is for you, fellow pet lover.

‘Brooklyn 911,’ Captain Holt’s Corgi Cheddar

Life goal: Find someone who looks at you the way Captain Raymond Holt looks at his beloved Corgi, Cheddar. Openly gay police captain Holt is typically a very serious, buttoned-down character who has no time for Andy Samberg’s Jimmy Peralta and his endless shenanigans, but this giant of a man falls apart when it comes to his love for Cheddar. For his part, Cheddar seems completely fine with wearing a beret or posing on a surfboard in a pair of swim trunks if it means pleasing his Captain. It’s a love for the ages. Sadly, the canine actor who played Cheddar, Stewart, died in 2019 at age 13.

‘Difficult People,’ Julie’s Dogs, Sen. Jelly Bean and Greg

“Difficult People” is one of those shows that you either “get” or that you hate with so much intensity, people have had to unfollow you on social media for all your ranting. Openly obnoxious would-be comedians Billy (portrayed by Billy Eichner, who also happens to be openly gay in real life) and bestie Julie (Julie Klausner) have a penchant for fearlessly diving straight into one LGBTQ+ stereotype after another. Let us never forget the dog park hookup between Billy and Seth Meyers, billed as “Dog Park Guy '' in the Season 2 “Premium Membership” episode. It’s a show aimed at stirring shit up, but one thing we can all agree on? Julie’s basset hounds, Sen. Jelly Bean and Greg, the real scene-stealers. If you haven’t seen the episode where her dog walkers turn them into football-loving YouTube stars, stop everything and get to it. Need more basset hound? Follow Martha (Sen. Jelly Bean) and Otis (Greg) on Instagram!

Xena, Warrior Princess and her horses Argo and Argo II

There are several reasons “Xena, Warrior Princess” resonated so much with the LGBTQ+ community. First, Xena herself (portrayed by Lucy Lawless) is unquestionably dripping with sexuality. She makes warrior princessing look sexy. Second, despite all the “controversy,” it was always evident she had a same-sex relationship with co-star Gabrielle (portrayed by Renee O’Connor), which was eventually all but verified when Xena kisses an ailing Gabrielle back to life. Anyway, Xena wouldn’t be Xena without a magical beast by her side. No, not Gabrielle. Argo, her (often, literally glowing) palomino horse (and later, the aptly named Argo II). Let’s just say the fan art involving Argo is, well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but you don’t want to Google the subject in mixed company. Argo and Argo II were gorgeous, faithful, and without them, it would have taken Xena a lot longer to get around.

‘Broad City,’ Ilana’s Rat Mother

While openly bisexual Ilana (Ilana Glazer) and Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) don’t have pet companions on the show, animals featured frequently on this LGBTQ+ fan favorite. There was Ilana’s gay brother’s dog wedding in “The Matrix” episode from Season 2 (the one where Abbi rollerbladed into a chasm in Central Park and spent the rest of the episode roleplaying “The Voice” with figs standing in for the judges). But the real stand-out episode involves a much more — let’s just go with disgusting — premise: rat birth. In the “Rat Pack” episode from Season 4, Ilana and roommate Jaime (the adorable Arturo Castro) throw a party to raise money to pay for rat extermination (oh, the joys of living in New York). At one point, Ilana and sorta-boyfriend Lincoln (Hannibal Buress) accidentally trap a rat in the bathroom. Later, when Ilana witnesses said rat — surprise, she’s pregnant! — giving birth, she bonds with her on a deeply spiritual level. “She’s a single gal,” muses Ilana. “Just looking to raise her kids in a safe home. She’s me!” While it’s probably a good thing Ilana, especially, wasn’t in charge of keeping another living being alive, this show did a fantastic job integrating animals into hilarious storylines very naturally. Need more proof? Check out Lincoln talking to dogs in the clip below.

‘Schitt’s Creek,’ Ted’s Menagerie

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This Canadian sleeper hit is sure to be considered a classic for years to come. It’s got everything: deep characters who authentically develop over the series run, stellar writing and plotting, authentic LGBTQ+ representation, basically the entire Levy family, Moira’s wigs... but it also has a really fun undercurrent of hilarious animal-centric episodes.

Local veterinarian Ted Mullins (Dustin Milligan) is at the heart of these plotlines, for obvious reasons, but it’s Alexis Rose (Anne Murphy) who brings to life one of the show’s most hilarious moments. In the Season 1 episode “Carl’s Funeral,” Ted and Alexis share a romantic moment in bed... with the audience of a diapered dog, complete with a medical cone. Not to worry, says the vet, they do that sometimes. Enter dog number two: a giant beast who seems like he’s in it for the finish. As the situation escalates, Alexis, who wants Ted to believe she’s a dog person, mouths over Ted’s shoulder “GO AWAY” to the dogs.

Then, of course, there was the not-to-be-missed time (very) well-toned Ted inadvertently stripped in front of a webcam trained on a family of baby bunnies up for adoption.

Well, there you have it, ya filthy animal! The perfect must-see list for a weekend on the couch with all the creature comforts of home - think of it as an ode to the late TV legend and animal lover Betty White. Find a furry companion (human or otherwise), cuddle up, and celebrate the pure-hearted goodness our animal counterparts add to our lives.

Consider making a donation to a local animal shelter like the Michigan Animal Rescue League in honor of Betty White and her steadfast dedication to helping animals in need.