A post about something you probably don’t care about
Hello everyone! It’s been a loooooooonnnnnnngggggg time since my last post. Things with Big D are still day to day and stressful, but that is not what I am blogging about today. Today I came to blog about a popular trope in tv history: “Killing off the gay character.” (WARNING: This post will contain spoilers about The 100, Orphan Black season 3, and a few others, so if you haven’t watched yet and wish to keep reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂 )
As many of my long time readers will know, I am absolutely obsessed with lesbian representation on TV. You may wonder why, since I am a 39 year old, married, (mostly) sane woman. I think I have figured it out. It’s because when I was growing up in the ’80’s and ’90’s, being gay wasn’t an option for me. What I mean is that growing up, I was never told I could be gay. Being gay was something people whispered about in disgust. It certainly wasn’t something people were proud to be. Consider how confusing this is to a child who is having same-sex attraction. I knew I liked girls when I was as young as 9 years old. 9! (I really knew when I was 6, but 9 was a turning point for me). Imagine knowing you like people of the same gender, and not being told it is something that could happen, or worse – being told it is wrong. Being basically forced to date people of the opposite gender, just because that is what is accepted (not at 9 of course, but later). This generation has not had that as much as my generation. People’s perceptions of GLBTQ people is mostly positive now. I know there are places where it still isn’t positive, but by the standards I grew up in, this time in history would be heaven!
For me, to have any lesbian representation on television is HUGE, and I actively seek it out. It started with Ellen Degeneres. She came out on her show in 1997, and I came out to my family a few weeks later. I was 20. Ellen gave me the courage to come out. My mom loves her, so I thought surely she would still love me. It was hard at first, but she did (and still does) love me, despite my sexuality. She (and my whole family) also love my wife, and for that I am really grateful. But believe me when I tell you, there was great fear of losing everything by coming out. I thought I would be disowned and kicked out of the house. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but it did happen a lot back then.
Of course after Ellen came out, her show tanked and it was cancelled. Lesson number one in a long string of disappointing lessons about the value of a lesbian on any show. The next show I got to see with lesbian characters was the L Word. This is the only show where there wasn’t only one or two lesbians, so when Dana died, it was really sad and people were angry, but there were plenty more women to choose from. There was a long break between the L Word and the next show I saw with lesbian representation, and that was Skins (UK). They didn’t kill off the lesbian in the original series, but Naomi gets killed off in the spin off. One more lesbian bites the dust. Then we get to my favorite show of all time: Orphan Black. I love Orphan Black more than any show I have ever watched in the history of television. It’s fresh! It’s action packed! There is representation of the G, L, B and T on the show! BUT…the lesbian character has been the one to be sick and on the brink of being killed off for the last 2 seasons. Her bisexual gf was shot at the end of last season. We don’t yet know if she will survive, but if history proves right, she will be a goner. (There are so many more shows where this happens, but if I list them all, I will be here all day, and I’ve already spent a few days crafting this!)
And now, The 100. If you have a twitter account, you probably have seen several hashtags trending over the last week, such as #bringlexaback, #lexadeservedbetter, #alyciawantedtostay, #savelexa, etc. If you’ve never watched The 100, you’ve probably been thinking what the heck is all the fuss about this Lexa person?? I will tell you what the fuss is: she is the latest victim in a long string of lesbian characters needlessly killed off. Let me tell you a little about her. This is Lexa (played brilliantly by Alycia Debnam Carey):
And here she is in combat mode:
Lexa was a tough as nails, no holds barred, Commander of clans in the futuristic, post apocalyptic world that is The 100. At first she was just an extra character, but it was established from the beginning that she liked women. We watched as Lexa made tough decisions for her people, and also met Clarke, the leader of the Skaikru (the people who waited out the apocalypse from space), who is also a tough as nails, no holds barred type of chick. The woman empowerment is great in this show. This is Clarke (played brilliantly by Eliza Taylor):
They meet and they form an alliance of sorts. During season 2, Clarke’s boyfriend dies, and we see her get closer and closer to Lexa. Their chemistry is off the charts! Then this happens:
Lexa initiates the first kiss. It lasts for several seconds before Clarke says she’s not ready for anyone yet. That was near the end of season 2, and the first glimpse into Clarke being into women. Season 3 begins after a huge betrayal by Lexa. Clarke ends up sleeping with another woman at the beginning of the season, but it seems to have been a one off. Then Clarke and Lexa reunite (it did not go well), but soon they start caring for one another again. The entire season up until last week’s episode had been building tension between the two. Lots of longing glances, chemistry and declarations neither has ever made to anyone. Lexa’s whole philosophy had always been “Jus drein, jus daun”, which means “Blood must have blood”, or in other words, anyone who kills one of my people gets killed. Clarke softened her and got her to see that blood doesn’t always have to have blood. Clarke gets her to see that peace may be better. Lexa also pledges her allegiance to Clarke – which is a HUGE deal for Lexa. Remember, she is the Commander of the clans. She’s not the mushy, I love you type.
Finally, after waiting forever, Clexa happened last week (source: YouTube):
Sadly, mere minutes after this scene, Lexa is shot by a stray bullet and dies. First of all, she is shot in the stomach – which is hardly fatal (let’s hope Delphine will be able to tell us this soon!). Secondly, this is a woman who is strong and powerful – who defeated an enemy by grabbing his sword with her bare hand – and she goes out by a stray bullet? Are you kidding me?! There are so many more honorable ways she could have been written off the show. She could have been killed in battle – as it had seemed she would at certain points. She could have been exiled, or written off in any number of other ways. But no, she is a lesbian, so she is disposable. Let’s just shoot her in the stomach and call it a day! The death scene is very touching (between Clarke and Lexa at least – the other people in the room were doing some sort of ritual), but it is a death scene that is totally unnecessary.
They were just beginning as a couple, something the fandom has waited for since that first kiss (and maybe even before it). There was so much potential for these two to bring peace to the war-torn land. There was so much potential for a lot of things to happen, but no, Lexa needed to become the latest victim in the LGBT trope. Most straight people will disagree with me and say she was just a character like all the other characters, and her sexuality shouldn’t matter, but it does. It matters to that teen girl who is still deeply in the closet. It matters to that 20-something who finally got to see 2 women in love on tv. It matters to me, who got into this show a year ago while I was home with the flu and was ready to quit watching until that first kiss happened. It matters to the hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people all over the world.
I get it, sexuality does not define a person. But if the shoe were on the other foot, and there were only 1 or 2 straight characters per show, and they kept getting needlessly killed off – would straight people stay silent? Would they say it doesn’t matter?