“The 100” Fans Once Again Remind The World That LGBT Viewers Deserve Better

So far, 2016 has been a pretty disheartening year for queer women who love TV. Our longtime go-to show, Pretty Little Liars, inexplicably did away with most of its gay content; Faking It got the boot on MTV; shows with lesbian and bisexual characters have been nixed before they even made it to air; and the deaths. Lordy, the deaths. We’ve lost 16 lesbian and bisexual characters this year, bringing us to a total of 156 dead gay women in TV history. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX.

One bright spot on this gloomy horizon has been the unprecedented and (honestly) shocking success of the LGBT Fans/Viewers Deserve Better movement that organized around Lexa’s death on The 100. In less than three months, queer fans of the show raised $125,000 for the Trevor Project, worked with TV writers and showrunners to create The Lexa Pledge, and forced the damaging effects of the Bury Your Gays trope into mainstream pop culture consciousness for the first time ever. Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post, BBC, Vox, Salon, The Washington Post: Well-respected entertainment websites and magazines have sbegun talking about LGBT TV characters in a way they’ve never done before. Riese and I gave multiple interviews to various magazines, newspapers, and radio stations about things we’ve been writing about — but no mainstream publication has been asking about — for our entire careers. There’s even a ClexaCon on the way!

Tonight is The 100‘s season three finale. And just in time, LGBT Viewers Deserve Better have unveiled three billboards in Los Angeles, with a fourth one expected to go up in Santa Monica early next week.

clexa-billboards

I know I’ve said this at least 20 times by now, but I’ve never seen anything like the movement surrounding Lexa’s death. In eleven weeks, queer fans of The 100 have completely revolutionized the conversation about about how TV treats its LGBT characters, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

Our The 100 recapper, Karly, will be back tomorrow with some thoughts and feelings about tonight’s finale. Until then, Oso throu daun ogeda!


Are you following us on Facebook?

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 709 articles for us.

59 Comments

    • “LGBT Fans Deserve Better”doesn’t have anything to do with the bilboards and therefore shouldn’t get the credit,though. The billboards were a collaborative effort of a few very dedicated tumblr users who collected donations and set everything else in motion. They only very recently started working under “LGBT Viewers Deserve Better” since the other project title was trademarked by a few individuals from L Chat who are – mysteriously – not available for comments,etc.

    • What Nina said! Also let it be known that the mysterious people behind the LGBTfansdeservebetter webpage don’t want to be associated with “negative” actions like billboards or live protests or even a collaborative effort with the twittertrend-team to end the season with a bang.

      Credit goes to LGBTviewersdeservebetter.com, the tumblr anon who came up with the idea, the artdesigner and the many people who donated and worked on this project – that’s what a movement is about!

      This movement should be more about what we want (worldwide) and not about trademarks or industry using us for ‘getting out of jail free cards’. Just so you know. 🙂

      From the people for the people.

  1. Speaking of “more than 100 ways to defy the trope,” I’m still looking forward to that Jane the Virgin piece because I am NOT OKAY with what happened to Susanna and I need to vent about it. They might have subverted dead lesbian syndrome, but in a way that (to me) was even worse.

    • ^with you there, friend. I am currently residing in “megan ketch didn’t know susanna wasn’t real when she portrayed her ergo she will ALWAYS be real to me” land. I have no plans to leave anytime soon.

      • We can always tell ourselves that since this IS a wacky telenovela in which realistic face masks are a thing, they can easily later retcon things even further so that Susanna is indeed a real person whom Rose kidnapped (but inexplicably kept alive) to steal her identity.

        Hey, it’d hardly be the most ridiculous thing to happen on the show.

        (When Jennie Urman said in post-finale interviews that Susanna’s identity was a ruse from the start, well, she was just trolling! After all, she can’t give away all the show’s twists and turns, right?)

  2. *Spoilers for ep504 of Person of Interest in this comment*

    I know that 6,741 was written long before Lexa died, but I still feel like the Person of Interest writers thought about the Bury Your Gays trope, and deliberately tried to hang a lampshade on it. Meaningful reunion? Check. Have sex for the first time? Check. Get shot? Check AND check. OH WAIT WHOOPS NOPE NEVER MIND BOTH QUEER WOMEN SURVIVE.

  3. Yeesss! I tweeted this to you last night, so thank you for writing about it and so fast! I’m so excited about this, and hopefully it’s the beginning of the end for the “bury your gays” trope!

      • It was the gay version of the monkey’s paw.

        Us: “Ugh, I wish shows would stop burying their gays. I swear, if JTV brought back Susanna and Luisa just to add them to the pile of dead lesbians, I’m going to throw something.”

        Jane the Virgin writers: “As you wish.”

        //monkey paw activates//

        Me: “Wait… no… this isn’t what I meant… WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?”

    • It was like when you’re driving and don’t see the car speeding through the intersection until the last second so you violently swerve to miss it (and you do) but you end up knocking over a whole row of garbage cans, a few mailboxes and just miss running over an elderly women in the process.

      That is what they did.

  4. Anyone been keeping up with Rosewood on Fox? They aren’t burying their lesbians but they have found a way to introduce the second most annoying trope ever! If not for Orphan Black I wouldn’t even turn on my TV these days 😐

    • I’m waiting for Autostraddle’s article about this so I can properly release the Kraken about how much I hate the Rosewood storyline. It makes absolutely no sense for the character to go this route given her characterization all season long. But I saw it coming a mile away once the Mitchie character was brought on to work at the lab. They have one more episode to turn this around but if it’s going the way it looks like it’s going in the previews then I’m done with the show for good.

  5. I cannot help but smile at the fact that this is likely what The 100 will always be remembered for and not the “groundbreaking”, “incredible” writing that Jason Rothenberg thinks it will be remembered for.

    This tv season has been filled with so many lesbian/bisexual character deaths that I’m convinced that they will all be dead by the end of the year. And when we aren’t dying we are having an emotional crisis about whether or not we really want to be with a man. Speaking of that, I want to send out an extra special fuck you to the writers of Rosewood for their current OOC storyline from the past two episodes and going into the finale.

    • I mean I totally agree!!! How hard is it really to depict two women in a relationship that one doesn’t end up dying or put their mouth on a bland boring idiotic dude? I mean Mitchie…really?? TMI didn’t talk to her family for 2 years all so she can throw her relationship with Puppy away for this guy? Come on now! Sorry I know I this is about the 100 but I never got properly rolling with that show. By the time I started watching they had killed off the character I most wanted to see…ugh. I’m just over it…anyone have any good book recommendations?

  6. Yeah!!!! I’m so glad awareness is being drawn to the issue.Shout out to the Clexa fandom of t100.It really is quite aggravating when u have to search for the few shows with queer characters and realise they’re hardly in the show. Their storyline is stereotype and miserable and you just know their gonna die if they ever find happiness.I really hope writers and show runners, now that they’re more aware of the tropes can avoid them and stop being so offensively predictable.

  7. Oh and BTW, LEXA was such an amazing lgbt character, original. A complex character I’d never seen before. How Jason could’ve written such a classic trope death ( a stray bullet after a queer love scene) after being warned about the BYG trope, I will never understand.If this is what writers and show runners think creativity is, they need to go back to the drawing board.

    • The problem is that they’re all so arrogant that they think they’re the Special Snowflake Exception™ because their story is SO MUCH MORE AWESOME than any other story and that will cancel out the trope.

      Which, of course, means that they don’t at all understand what the trope actually is, why it exists, and the larger ramifications of what it means to their viewers and how it contributes to reinforcing homophobic cultural norms.

      THEY THINK THEIR STORIES ARE SO GOOD IT CANCELS OUT REALITY, Y’ALL.

      That’s some arrogant fuckery, right there.

  8. <3

    Honestly I feel like this would not have gotten the level of mainstream media coverage that it did if y'all hadn't put in the hours of data collection to show just how prevalent this trope is. So thanks, team!

  9. I’m so proud to be a part of this fandom :’). I know that what has been accomplished will help us achieve the representation we deserve. The media needs to understand that we’re tired and are more than willing to fight for whats right.

  10. I both want and don’t want the JtV recap.. I think I’m in the minority here. But I love Rose as a character and Bridget Regan is a phenomenal actress. I am happy for her to be back and dreading its effect on Luisa at the same time, which I think makes for great TV (especially since Megan Ketch wasn’t available anymore!). I wish Luisa was less of a punching bag but that ending was SO GOOD.

    • I have always been a big Bridget Regan fan so I couldn’t be happier that she’s back. She’s pretty much THE VILLAIN of JtV since they decided to go a different route with Petra very early in her characterization. I already knew we had probably seen the last of Susanna anyway due to Megan Ketch not being available I was just unsure of how they were going to do it. That reveal was so Soap Opera. I loved it.

    • I mean I like Rose as a villain but I think there was a way to bring her back that wouldn’t have completely erased the nice well-adjusted lesbian detective at the same time. It’s not like those were our only two options; it’s not some zero sum game of lesbians here lmao.

  11. I don’t want to feel this way, but the thing is I don’t have a lot of hope about some change happening in the way we’re represented on TV.

    I don’t remember a time, even one time, when networks or showrunners decided to take the hard road to make things right, their option is always the easy way out (killing 156 characters is a good example of this and I’ve to ask, none of those characters seem worthy of some farther development? Not even one of 156?). I’m afraid they’re gonna decide that the easiest thing is to have zero LGBT characters, just to skip the controversy or the hard work.

    There’s also the Carter Covington’s way, develop some crap and blame the audience and scream that they didn’t get the point you were making. Because yes, TV is a surrealist or abstract form of art. I was so wrong; Faking It was some kind of LGBT version of Un Chien Andalou. Sorry, my bad.

    There’s also the kind of help you get from people that says that plays for your team:

    “Elaine Atwell: Yeah, it feels like coming full circle, because you and I spoke right after the Season 1 finale, when I think I earned some of my most dedicated haters. But it’s still one of my favorite interviews I’ve ever done. And I had decided—even before the announcement that Faking It wasn’t going to continue—that I wasn’t going to be able to continue to cover it because the fandom had become so difficult to work with and work around. So I’m glad at least we can leave at the same time.

    Carter Covington: I’m sorry you’ve had that experience. I think it’s a vocal part of the fandom, but it’s the one you deal with the most, and I share your pain.”

    Yep, not a lot of hope…

    • I don’t have a lot of hope either. Like I said I think we have a lot more deaths to look forward to this year. We lost two more characters tonight, though not to death admittedly. That is still a blow to our representation overall. TV writers need to do better but I honestly don’t believe they give a fuck. They just don’t like the negative publicity aimed at them surrounding these tropes and LGBT Deserve Better and think they are all somehow exempt from ever being criticized for their treatment of LGBT characters because writing is so “brilliant. Notice how nearly every single head writer who has been interviewed after these characters deaths claims they were either unaware of the trope or “weren’t thinking about it” but they believed their particular storyline somehow defied the trope due to how it was written. You can’t reason with people whose egos can’t fit through a doorway and aren’t apart of the margalized group they are using for plot-twists and publicity.

      AE has become such a fucking joke. They kiss the asses of these showrunners for exclusive interviews then they get mad at their readers and call it “hatred” any time we negatively critique a show for engaging in these trope-y storytelling practices. Elaine was getting super defensive in the comments even before she posted the interview probably knowing damn well she was guilty of already doing exactly what they predicted she would do.

      • You know, I’ve seen several disgusting comments on several AE’s posts (very transphobic and biphobic comments), but the majority are related with the quality of representation, because let’s be honest, most of the reviewers on AE see two women holding hands on the background of any episode of any TV show and they pop up the “LGBT representation” card. News flash, AE: you need to look for quality, not just numbers; have some freaking standards for Christ’s sakes.

        Another huge problem or question is, for whom are you writing for? For showrunners or networks? That’s not your audience/readership.

        I think AS would love to be on the good side of showrunners, but at the risk of alienating your readers? That one is not a good choice. And thank you, AS for never making that choice.

        • This constant accusing AE TV show recappers of acting in bad faith for some greater conspiracy is unfair and disproportionate to impact. Sure, the site has a number of problems (on a more fundamental level eg I agree need quality over quantity and better curating of content). Most startling is that they don’t have a clear, wonderful, inclusive and respectful comments policy like AS. I credit that with making a huge difference for tenor between sites.

          I’m not as pessimistic regarding hopes for better queer representation on TV, but I don’t underestimate the challenges of the tide we are trying to turn either. As groundbreaking as TV/film can be it can also be extremely behind the times in reflecting society in all its complexity.

          Also, the egotistical showrunner reaction isn’t isolated to shows with queer content – look at the history of sci-fi fandoms to see examples of fraught fan/creator dynamics.

          • I don’t think they’re part of a great conspiracy, they just like the goodies they get from the showrunners a bit much… nothing like 15 minutes interviews and a season in advance, the pleasure…

        • i think the good news about autostraddle and how we run is that we are primarily supported by our readers, not by corporations. we’re not owned by a corporation, we don’t rely on corporations for advertising to pay most of our bills, we don’t have investors or shareholders, none of it. so for us, doing right by our readers will always be the most important thing to us, always. in a way y’all are like our friends and our community too. that’s what we’re about and always have been. this is why reader-supported media is the best and the future.

  12. Truly makes my heart happy seeing this come out of such a terrible thing. Thank you for the coverage and thank you fandom for pulling together and creating a positive impact. Bury the fucking trope and let tv show runners know they can’t treat us like this.

  13. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Lexa killed off because the actress was taking a more starring role on Fear the Walking Dead? I don’t know why everyone is so pissed at the media and the writers when it was predominantly due to the actress’s choice to take a better paying job.

    • This has been covered quite extensively on this website as well as on Twitter and Tumblr. As Tina said, visit http://lgbtfansdeservebetter.com/ as they go into great detail about all the things that went into Lexa’s death as well as why this movement is much bigger than just one character’s death. And no Alycia leaving the show seemed to have very little to do with why Lexa was killed. Jason Rothenberg has changed his story multiple times on that part of the decision as well as whether or not he knew about the trope before he played into it. His own writing staff has inadvertently exposed his lies on that front on their own social media.

      The first paragraph of this very article even mentions that their have been 16 deaths besides Lexa’s bringing that to a total of 156. There are also multiple articles on this website that talk about how disproportionate it is to that of straight representation and positive representation of LGBT relationships in general. The research is there if you actually care about this topic enough to look into it instead of just assuming that anyone upset over this much be irrational.

    • For two reasons. One: A member of their staff (Shawna Benson) went to L chat for “Rumor control” and assured the people there – assurances that went all over the fandom, of course – that Lexa was not going to die (this after the fandom figured it out because of filming schedules, some even pointing out the exact episode when it would happen.) and went out of their way to leak scenes that pointed to Clexa moments, building up the pairing for “shock value” when they killed Lexa off.

      And Two: the way that she died. Here’s a bad-ass warrior that had a target on her back for wanting to bring peace to warring clans and how does she die ? Because of a stray bullet… a commercial break after she and her love interest had sex. This is so awfully similar to the old pulp novels – that only showed gay characters to punish them for the “immoral” behavior by having them killed shortly after they “sinned” (read: had sex/kissed a same sex member) – that it struck a nerve with many members of the community.

      TL;DR They lied to make us watch the show and killed her off in a fucked up way.

    • Ok, I’ll correct you. This isn’t about one character on one show. It’s about the fact that LGBT+ stories are only ever tragedies. That pop culture doesn’t care about LGBT+ characters unless we’re dying or otherwise suffering for our sins of loving people of the same gender. For example, 17 sapphic characters (women who love women, whether lesbian or bisexual) have been killed in 2016 so far. In the entire history of television, only 30 sapphic characters have EVER gotten a happy ending. We need more positive representation where we can be the heroes and not just someone to kill off for shock value or as a moral statement.

      Also, bringing this argument up as though we haven’t done our homework on what we’re fighting for is just dismissive and rude, as if we would put up billboards and stand on the street without knowing exactly why this character was killed. She could have been written off. She could have been exiled. She could have been brought back for minor bits of the next season but been “away” doing important commander things for the most part. There are a number of ways they could have let the actress go do FTWD without killing yet another lesbian. It’s lazy writing to follow the same cliches and tropes as every other show.

    • It is unclear whether or not the actress could or not come back to the show. Two of the show’s writers have stated she wanted/would have been available for a 4th season while the showrunner contradicted himself a few times while saying she couldn’t. He even said in an interview “Jo, I mispoke about when Alycia left for her other show. To be clear she had already finished S1 of FTWD before our S3 began”. Her stay during the 3rd season was limited to 7/16 episodes because FTWD filmed it’s first half of the second season in Mexico while the 100 filmed in Canada. The sowrunner stated multiple times AMC was very happy to let Alycia film on both (I think she even filmed two movies meanwhile also).

      However, one can write a character off WITHOUT killing them (especially after lying to the fans for more than one year she will definitely NOT be killed). There are countless possibilities to write a character off and in the finale episode of s3 we find out that she actually did not have to die at all.

  14. Hopefully our movement changes some things in the industry. Hopefully soon queer kids won’t have to watch themselves suffer and die on TV on a daily basis. Keep kicking ass, kru. Oso gonplei nou ste odon!

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.