"I think that we aren’t a part of that phenomenon or conversation," Chaiken tells Variety. pic.twitter.com/rk4yP0ns8l
— Heather Hogan (@hhoagie) April 7, 2016
So many weird things have happened this month in the world of queer girl television and the online culture that surrounds it and the media that covers it! So much of it has been just absolutely DELICIOUS. Just! Just something to dine out on. Like, get your fork, get your napkin, we’re having multiple courses. Finish your soup, ’cause tonight the main course comes to us from my antagonist Ilene Chaiken, the showrunner behind Empire:
Though the pattern of television deaths has become a recent trend, “Empire” showrunner Ilene Chaiken — who co-created Showtime’s “The L Word” prior to the Fox hit, and has been outspoken about her own identity as a lesbian — says her series’ shocking double death does not fall into the same category.
“I think that we aren’t a part of that phenomenon or conversation,” Chaiken tells Variety, adding that she’s been following the social reaction to other shows “very closely.”
Speaking about Campbell’s character (who had sex with a man, Bryshere Gray’s Hakeem Lyon, in the scene prior to her death), Chaiken explains: “I would say that Camilla is not a lesbian character. Camilla was, if anything, an opportunist, which is quite different from being a lesbian. If anything, the lesbians should wish for a character like Camilla to be killed off since she just preyed on a powerful lesbian in order to fulfill her heterosexual ambitions.”
So, are there any plans to introduce a loving lesbian couple on “Empire?”
“No plans at the moment, but it’s always in my thoughts,” Chaiken says. “I don’t know whether anybody else shares my wish for that, but I’m always looking for that story.”
I mean, sure? In many ways, this is a slight diversion from what’s most heartbreaking about the trope, but it still fits into the larger conversation and has implications beyond itself. It’s still gonna be on the list along with every other lesbian TV character death because it adds up. Every lesbian TV character death doesn’t need to be a reflection of a showrunner’s malicious intent or a disregard of queer investment in order to be part of a troubling overall culture that we’re all interested in dismantling and looking at a little bit more closely. And Heather will talk more about this on Friday!
More importantly, from a longer interview about the episode overall with Ilene Chaiken:
Who came up with the idea to turn “Drip Drop” into “Flip Flop?”
That was an idea that came up in the room and it was very much a group effort, but Josh Allen [“Empire” writer] I think gets the share of credit, because I remember him singing “Flip flop, flip flipitty flop.”