Syfy’s “Wynonna Earp” Is The Love Child Of “Jessica Jones” And “Lost Girl”

Feature image courtesy of NBC Universal

Spoilers below for the pilot episode of Wynonna Earp. 

A brown-haired bad girl in a leather jacket — running from her past, hiding from her mistakes, staying away to protect the people she loves — gets coerced into sticking around to fight bad guys because she has a hidden hero’s heart to complement her superpowers. Am I talking about Jessica Jones or Lost Girl? Neither, actually! I’m talking about Syfy’s new drama, Wynonna Earp, a show that feels like Jessica Jones and Bo Dennis had a super Canadian baby, designated Buffy Summers her godmother, and raised her deep in the heart of Texas.

Based on the IDW comic book of the same name, Wynonna Earp tells the story of Wyatt Earp’s great-great granddaughter, who left her home town of Purgatory as soon as she was old enough, but is drawn back on the eve of her 27th birthday to attend her uncle’s funeral. His isn’t the only death Wynonna has to deal with; on the way into Purgatory, her bus breaks down and her seat mate gets dragged into the woods and decapitated. Who’s doing these dastardly deeds? Demons, duh. The 77 people Wyatt Earp killed with his gun, The Peacemaker, are reincarnated when the heir to his firearm turns 27. It was the fate of Wynonna’s father to destroy them, and now it’s her own destiny. (It’s a little more complicated than that, successor-wise, but I don’t want to spoil all of Wynonna’s angst.)

Wynonna is, of course, joined by a ragtag team of demon-hunting wannabes. There’s her frenetic younger sister, Waverly Earp, who has put in the research and is ready to get down to business. There’s the supremely archetypal Special Agent Dolls from the U.S. government’s Paranormal Research Division, who basically blackmails Wynonna into joining his team after he catches her retrieving The Peacemaker from the place she buried it a decade ago and witnesses her taking down two demons with it. There’s Officer Haught (pronounced Officer Hot), who, rumor has it, is going to make this show “hella gay.” And then there’s Doc Holiday. Or the ghost of Doc Holiday. Or the good guy demon of Doc Holiday. Of all the Canadians doing random Southern accents, his is by far the worst and my favorite.

Like all pilots, this one is full of introduction and exposition, but it elevates itself above Syfy’s usual paint-by-numbers premiere episodes. Wynnonna also knows exactly what shows audiences are going to compare it to, and leans into those similarities with a perfect mix fondness and camp. That second thing links it most closely to Lost Girl, a series that never took itself too seriously, and it makes sense that Wynonna Earp would embrace that part of its potential because former Lost Girl showrunner Emily Andras is at the helm here too.

Despite the fact that I was able to call up three female-fronted pulpy action shows to compare this one to, there’s still a dearth of lady-led series in this heavily male-dominated genre, and there’s never been a woman heading up a paranormal western. And this one has a female showrunner who has a long history of understanding what makes queer fandom’s heart go KABOOM. There’s a good balance here between humor, heart, and the supernatural monsters Syfy requires to make the whole thing worth their time. In fact, the amount of gore — accomished through inevitably low-budget CGI — is pretty shocking. There’s a human head on a pike in the middle of a forest, and some dumb schmuck gets his literal tongue yanked right out of his mouth! (The landscape, however, is real and wonderful.)

If Wynonna Earp can juggle that balance and continue to trust their engaging, kickass heroine to shoulder the show’s most important emotional moments, we won’t be able to leave Purgatory either.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 769 articles for us.

33 Comments

  1. Deputy-Sheriff Haught (who from preview images is indeed quite hot in her uniform) will according to my sources be the love interest for Waverly, Wynonna’s sister (the one complaining about the size of the dating pool in Purgatory in episode one and who has conveniently just broken up with her boyfriend). She turns up in episode two.

  2. Well isn’t that just convenient? I woke up this morning thinking “I really need a tv detox, let’s try to stay off tv for like a week”.

    AH. No way I’m waiting a week to watch the pilot now…

    • The Canadian promotional material pretty heavily hypes a love triangle between Wynnona, Agent Dolls, and Doc Holliday, so be prepared!

      I am frankly more nervous about racist fandom reactions to a love triangle between a white woman, black man, and white man than about the love triangle per se; Supergirl fandom has been really ugly in that regard, and it’s less of a triangle than “black dude is the romantic lead.”

      • God, even Jessica Jones fandom has that problem and the other “love interest” there is an abuser and a metaphor for rape culture as a whole. The whole premise of the show is Jones overcoming the trauma that he inflicted. It’s disheartening.

  3. I was turned off by the terrible trailer that was released months ago, but based on this, some other silly-but-fun reviews I’ve seen, and the confirmations of lesbians/bi women I might give it a try. Hopefully it will have that Killjoys vibe!

    Though based on the trailers, the demon-fighting sisters, the Americana cheese and the prominence of some dude Wynnona kisses, it looks like one of their main inspirations was Sleepy Hollow, and I’m surprised the reviewer didn’t make that obvious connection.

  4. Another campy show with a lesbian/bisexual (too soon to know which) is Angie Tribeca. The LGBTQ person being Monica Scholls. Another interesting thing about the show is that Angie, according to the guy who plays James Geils, is written in such a way that you’re not supposed to know whether she’s a girl or a guy (she wears boxers, she says she has to “drain the lizard,” etc.). She’s just Tribeca.

    • I tried watching the first episode but really didn’t like it. I hate parody shows/movies in general though, they seem cheap and are generally unfunny.

      From what I recall of it, the joke about Angie was that she had fallen in love with all her partners and all of them had died.

  5. I’m not too concerned about there being angst and love triangles in this show, because if it’s run by the Lost Girl showrunner, we can trust all such things will get resolved offscreen.

    Not that I’m still INTENSELY ANNOYED by that, or anything.

    • There are a few shows on or starting in the UK that have queer characters.

      The new crime show Marcella that was on last night has a queer sex worker, although I’m not sure how long she will be around as it’s a crime thriller, also she is a terrible person who robbed the woman she slept with then mugged someone else. She survived the first episode but given the sort of series it is I don’t think the future is rosy for her.

      The second season of The Tunnel (UK/French version of The Bridge) apparently has Elise(Clémence Poésy)dating a woman. I have been told that neither woman dies… but it doesn’t start in the UK until the 12th (it’s been shown in France though).

      Home Fires with lesbian character Teresa is back. Don’t know if anything will happen between her and accountant Alison, but now that Alison is maybe a spy we can all write hot spy/teacher fanfiction.

  6. I suppose it’s silly of me to focus on the fact that Wyatt Earp had no children when this is a supernatural camp show. Argh, no matter. I can’t watch anything on SyFy. They’ll cancel it if it’s good. =P

  7. Wait, Wyatt Earp was a real person? That name just sounds so made up! (Sorry, Canadian here, my knowledge of Southern US history is pretty much restricted to what I learned in Hamilton.)

    This all souds really awesome (and kind of too-good-to-be-true…. I’m still paranoid), but can someone shine some light on where this show falls on the Lost-Girl-to-Jessica-Jones production quality scale? (LG being a 1 and JJ being a 9) Because as much as I enjoyed the relationships and the sex scenes and the amazingness that is Anna Silk, Zoie Palmer, and Rachel Skarsten, I CANNOT watch another show with the same terrible writing/plotting/production design as Lost Girl.

    • Yep. He was a real person. The majority of our old west “heroes” are, their real lives sometimes more fantastic than the fiction Hollywood comes up with. Doc Holliday, Wild Bill, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and the rest… all real.

    • I really hope you get an answer to your 2nd question, because I want to know too!

      I have seen the show yet, but the other reviews I’ve read think that it’s too early to tell.

    • It’s Syfy-don’t expect them to drop Netflix $$$ producing it. If we’re really lucky it’ll get the thought/budget of the good stretches of Defiance. But it’ll probably be frustrating in all the ways Lost Girl was.

    • From what I’ve read all the writers and directors working on the show also worked on Lost Girl. So I’d expect more of the same.

      I enjoyed it more than I did Lost Girl, but only time will tell how it turns out I guess.

      • Thanks for the feedback! As much as I appreciate the LG writers/producers commitment to diversity, and Emily Andras’ adorableness of Twitter, I’m really sorry, but they CAN’T WRITE FOR SHIT.

        I can deal with low-budget, that’s okay. Buffy’s SFX budget is so hilariously terrible, especially in the early seasons. But that doesn’t matter because the writing is so good and the plotting was so tight. LG, on the other hand…

        Ughhh who am I even kidding, I’ll probably watch it anyway.

  8. I gotta say, that pilot was hot mess. But the ideas are compelling enough that I’m willing to stick around for a few episodes to see if it improves, especially if there are queers

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