Queerly Not Straight: LGBT Representation on ‘A Discovery of Witches’

In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.

One of our favorite and most important relationships on A Discovery of Witches is the marriage of Sarah Bishop and Emily Mather. A core part of their place in A Discovery of Witches is the role that they have in Diana’s life. They brought her up and helped develop her into the fantastic woman that she is today. But they are so much more than what they did for Diana. Sarah and Emily or an iconic couple for many reasons.


First off, they’re treated like any other couple. This might seem like a small thing to some but it’s so grand for queer people that want to see themselves on TV. Sarah and Emily aren’t dealing with the age-old trope of coming out to their family or hiding who they are. They are not hiding who they are and are quite proud of the home and life they have built together. They are like any other couple who ended up raising a kid and who want the best for Diana.

This dedication by Deborah Harkness and the creators of A Discovery of Witches on Sky One shows how much they understand our need to see queer couples just living their lives. Sarah and Emily have their own home. They go shopping and wear pink pussy hats because you know for a fact that they are the kind of women that would go to the Women’s March in January. Even their home is a beautiful portrait of who they are and the life that they have spent with each other.

All of this matters.

We’re also in love with these two women because they aren’t perfect. In many ways I feel like they complete and complement each other. Sarah is the one with the weight of raising her sister’s child on her shoulders. An Emily is the one that helps Sarah get perspective when everything seems too much. They even experienced a couple bumps in the road based on trust and fear of what is to come in the supernatural upheaval that is happening in A Discovery of Witches. But they make it through and come out stronger because they talk to each other, give the other a chance, and know that if they make mistakes they will get through this together.


Our love is grand for this couple because they are also affectionate AF. Too often relationships between women are seen from the male gaze. They’re written in a way to satisfy male urges and display queer relationships between women as something of a fantasy rather than a reality. In A Discovery of Witches the affection that Sarah and Emily hold for each other is told from a female gaze. It is full of love and understanding and so much damn respect. They are not here to satisfy anyone who would see their relationship as some sort of kink. They are in love and happy to be spending the rest of their lives with each other.

At some point in A Discovery of Witches, Diana and Matthew end up at Sarah and Emily’s. A little bit of a spoiler alert but trust me I won’t give too much away if you haven’t watched the show yet. Sarah and Emily dealt with the situation by each other side without being the same person. What I mean by that is that couples usually are on the same wavelength on TV for everything and anything. And that’s simply not true. You can be married to someone and still have differences in the way that you approach things.


That right there is what happens with Sarah and Emily. They approach the situation with Diana and Matthew and the supernatural upheaval of their world, at each other’s side with some different opinions of how to move forward. And instead of letting that separate these two women, it brings them closer together. They give each other perspective, while honoring the person that they love, and it’s such a brilliant thing to see on TV.

We need more couples like Sarah and Emily on our screens. It’s representation at its finest but also a clear and amazing example to those who think they can’t have a “regular” life with someone that they love just because they are LGBTQ+. The fact that A Discovery of Witches has already been renewed for two more seasons is amazing because it means that we get to see more of these two women, the love that they share, and the chances that they are willing to take to save/protect each other.

Thanks to A Discovery of Witches, 20gay19 is already looking up!

A Discovery of Witches premieres in the US on Thursday, January 17 on Sundance Now and Shudder.

Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)

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