After an extended online campaign, executive producer of The 100, Jason Rothenberg, has written a long apology today for killing off lesbian character Lexa, shortly after her loving consummation with romantic interest and series’ lead Clarke.
The episode that incited protest aired March 3 on The CW, and the plot line was in some part due to the fact that the actress who plays Lexa, Alycia Debnam-Carey, is also a series regular on Fear The Walking Dead. If you want to watch the gorgeously lit romance followed almost immediately by Lexa taking a stray bullet meant for Clarke, here it is:
The whole thing was very reminiscent of Tara’s untimely end on Buffy shortly after she finally reunited with recovering-magic-addict Willow. In fact, it’s reminiscent of a lot of lesbian love stories on TV as many were quick to point out. LGBT Fans Deserve Better was trending on Twitter with a vengeance shortly after fans transitioned from shock to anger.
Though I have never watched an episode of this show in my life, it has a pretty sizable following, many of them LGBT fans who were excited about Clarke’s bi-sexuality until this betrayal:
In response to the protest, Autostraddle published a list of all 148 lesbian and bi-sexual deaths aired on TV, and it is overwhelming. Most fans are pointing out that gay characters are used as obvious queerbait for ratings, followed by their deaths for shock value. This sends a careless and painful message to actual LGBT viewers.
After 3 weeks of Clexa-gate, Rothenberg has cried mercy. In a long post on Medium, he gives a thoughtful apology in which he emphasizes basically how out of touch he was with the issue:
For many fans of The 100, the relationship between Clarke and Lexa was a positive step of inclusion. I take enormous pride in that, as I do in the fact that our show is heading into its 4th season with a bisexual lead and a very diverse cast. The honesty, integrity and vulnerability Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey brought to their characters served as an inspiration for many of our fans. Their relationship held greater importance than even I realized. And that very important representation was taken away by one stray bullet.
The thinking behind having the ultimate tragedy follow the ultimate joy was to heighten the drama and underscore the universal fragility of life. But the end result became something else entirely — the perpetuation of the disturbing “Bury Your Gays” trope. Our aggressive promotion of the episode, and of this relationship, only fueled a feeling of betrayal.
The 100 is a post-apocalyptic tragedy set 130 years in the future. It’s a constant life and death struggle... But I’ve been powerfully reminded that the audience takes that ride in the real world — where LGBTQ teens face repeated discrimination, often suffer from depression and commit suicide at a rate far higher than their straight peers.
So far, most fans on Twitter seem angrier than ever.
If fans refuse to believe Rothenberg can learn and grow from this fiasco, perhaps other productions will at least take it as another example of why writers’ rooms should be as diverse as the cast of the show. A queer woman working on that episode might have remembered how she felt the day that Tara died.
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Image via the CW.