“The 100” Gives Canon Bisexual Representation and A Queer Girl Ship, and It Taketh Away

SPOILERS ABOUND.

At the close of its second season, the CW’s The 100 is making waves — the brutal postapocalyptic world liberally peppered with the deaths of young teens didn’t turn too many heads after season one, but the revelation of the canon bisexuality of its protagonist, Clarke Griffin, sure has.

Clarke spent the last, oh, season and a half or so embroiled in one way or another with Finn, a (male) troublemaker with a heart of gold, sort of. After they have sex one time, Clarke refuses to get into a real relationship with Finn or return his declarations of affection, although he’s clearly still important to her. After Finn’s death in Season Two, Clarke isn’t super concerned with getting back on the horse as far as dating goes; she’s pretty busy trying to save her entire community from grisly death, a task that can only be accomplished via a fragile alliance with the community of people who have been native to the earth for the last 100 years instead of living in a climate-controlled spaceship. The good news is that Clarke has a lot in common with their commander, named Lexa; they’re both about 17 going on 45, total badasses, and young women who have proven themselves so thoroughly that grown-ass men with weapons will follow them into battle (although it’s notable that there appears to be pretty good gender equity in this particular dystopian hellscape). They’re even both dealing with the heartbreak of a romantic interest killed in war; Clarke is mourning Finn and Lexa a girl named Costia. All of their shared experiences seem to be surely paving the road to gal pal bffdom forever — right up until Lexa kisses Clarke, and Clarke kisses back. Here, look, you can see it.

clarkelexa

When we look at the standards by which we often discuss bisexual representation on TV, The 100 is kind of a mixed bag. My initial takeaway was, honestly, disappointment — Clarke and Lexa’s kiss, the first indication that their relationship isn’t platonic, doesn’t come until very late in the second season. When it does come, it’s a very brief moment — Clarke FOR SURE kisses back, but she also stops kissing about three seconds later, and tells Lexa “I can’t.” The implication is at least that Clarke means “I can’t right now because my last love interest died about five minutes ago and also I’m responsible for keeping hundreds of people alive even though I’m only 17,” not “I can’t because we’re both girls.” Still, though, I was hoping for a little more than the few seconds of blissful bi reciprocal feelings we saw. I had heard so much about this show, and so much of it enthusiastic, that I was prepared for a full-on relationship. What we actually got ultimately amounts to a demonstration that our protagonist is bi, but the scene doesn’t last long enough to do much more than that. What’s more, Lexa and Clarke don’t exactly end the season on an amicable note. While I’m cautiously optimistic about their reconciliation, the fact remains that if I had blinked several times, like if I had particularly dry eyes on the day I finished the show, I could plausibly have missed this entirely.

However! There are still several things about this arc, miniature as it is, that are worth celebrating. The bisexual character is indeed the protagonist, which is a rare bird; usually we’re relegated to side characters if we exist at all. I’m also thrilled to see a bisexual character who isn’t stuck with a love triangle between characters of different genders. I think the show does sort of ask us to compare Finn and Lexa in our head, but not in a way that feels specifically about gender — more like the same way that we were tempted to compare Rory Gilmore’s boyfriends. And of course, it’s always great to see any LGBT character whose storyline doesn’t center around coming out, or function as a Very Special Episode. In this arc, Clarke’s bisexuality isn’t the focus of attention; Lexa is. Their interactions are allowed to be just that, interactions between characters we care about, not a device meant to serve an identity plot.

just doin' normal date stuff

just doin’ normal date stuff

Some fans and writers have found this in particular worth celebrating — the ‘normalcy’ of Clarke and Lexa, the fact that it’s not made a big deal of. I’m less inclined to be impressed by this, given the context of the world of The 100. So far in this show we’ve seen someone use their own teeth to chew a tracking device out of their arm, a twelve-year-old girl with PTSD stab someone to death, and somebody climb inside a warhead to use it as a spaceship because a hallucination of their dead kid encouraged them to. No one is fucking around here. If it isn’t about survival, it doesn’t rate very high as a priority. Even the rivalry between Raven and Clarke, something which many other shows would have (and have, in fact) drawn out into a primary conflict that lasted the show’s whole run, couldn’t last longer than a couple episodes, because Clarke and Raven’s reliance upon each other for survival is just too important. In this world, I would find it more surprising if bisexuality was a big deal.

We haven’t seen any other relationships get much explicit discussion, either; Finn and Clarke never had a conversation to define their relationship, and other characters rolled with the Clarke/Finn situation without much comment. I mean, it makes sense: ten minutes spent dealing with specificity of sexual orientation or labels is ten minutes that could be spent sharpening sticks into spears or trying to engineer antibiotics out of rocks. This isn’t new; there’s a reason why we have often more success with representation of marginalized groups in scifi/fantasy/dystopian universes, because show creators know that viewers are more likely to accept it not being “a big deal” in a world different than ours, where the characters have concerns that are different than ours. This doesn’t mean points should be subtracted from The 100, just that this doesn’t seem to me like the most interesting takeaway from this show in particular.

For similar reasons, I’m not personally bothered by another common trope of bisexual representation: the absence of the word “bisexual.” Usually it grates on me, as it does on many other bi viewers, when otherwise articulate characters who are well-educated on issues of sexual orientation (Piper of OINTB, Sarah of Transparent, etc) seem fundamentally incapable of calling themselves or anyone else bisexual. Often they opt to either avoid the subject entirely or say they “don’t like labels,” which is a perfectly acceptable way to self-identify, but is frustrating when it’s used to characterize almost every character on TV attracted to more than one gender. But this is less irritating to me when the show isn’t set in our real world, a world where these terms are in fact in common usage. In The 100, there’s no indication that we live in a culture where there’s any particular vocabulary around relationships or orientation, at least not one that seems all that important. For instance, Lexa isn’t referred to as a lesbian, even though as far as we know she only has relationships with women.

Ultimately, what I’m most interested in about what Clarke means as a bisexual character isn’t how she stacks up against others, or how well The 100 as a show fills out checklists of ideal representation (although I think both of those can be valid lines of inquiry). I’m interested in the dynamic between Clarke and Lexa, because even though it got jarringly little screen time, it resonated with me in a way that even I was surprised by.

My first memory of seeing a bisexual in a relationship with a girl on TV was The OC‘s Marissa; she dated Alex for a very short arc before returning to her tumultuous on-and-off again relationship with Ryan, as all viewers knew she would. I was glued to the screen during the Alex storyline, but it was clear even to me that this relationship wasn’t really going to be Marissa’s story. She wasn’t really choosing Alex, she wouldn’t end up choosing Alex; she was choosing not-Ryan, she was choosing to try something new and different and daring just to see what would happen. Alex wasn’t who she wanted; Alex was just another fifth of vodka for Marissa to sneak into her purse. But that was what there was, and that was fine.

babe do you think our relationship will survive even past sweeps week? babe did you hear me, are you listening

babe do you think our relationship will survive even past sweeps week? babe did you hear me, are you listening

We’ve come a fairly long way since then, and there are multiple other bisexual women on TV — Bo in Lost Girl, Callie from Grey’s, Brittany from Glee, Delphine from Orphan Black, and more — who we see in real relationships with other women, relationships that aren’t portrayed as a phase even if they don’t end up lasting forever. It’s pretty cool in and of itself that The 100 isn’t the boat that all of our bisexual representation hopes are riding in together. But Clarke is a unique kind of protagonist in that her choices have consistently been shown to be rigidly controlled; every decision she makes on the show is ratified by strict standards of rational necessity, moral righteousness, or both. In fact, at some points it seems almost like a flaw in her character development — does Clarke ever even have subjective human wants and needs? Does she ever not do The Right Thing? (She definitely does not do the right thing, as far as I’m concerned, when she ultimately stands by and tries to help Finn after he straight up mass murders a bunch of people that his community has already invaded and colonized because of his own psychological issues, but I’m not sure that the show itself agrees with me. The totally skewed moral compass of this show when it comes to colonialism/imperialism and why so many characters seem willing to forgive Finn for something unforgivable is also really worth talking about with this show, arguably moreso than its representation of bisexuality. But anyways it’s not clear to me that the show’s internal ethics judge Clarke as being in the wrong here, even though I think she was).

We’ve actually never seen Clarke choose to enter into a real relationship on the show; she clearly has emotional ties with Finn, but at every point where a real reciprocal relationship is offered, she explicitly turns it down. She cares about Finn, but there are too many obstacles: his past with Raven, his horrifying crimes at the village of Tondc, the general conflict of interest she feels about loving one of her soldiers. When offered a choice, she chooses not to be with Finn, not really. In fact, Clarke chooses almost nothing for herself, ever.

Which is why it’s such a powerful moment to see her kiss Lexa back. Clarke virtually never acts on what she wants, at least not if there’s any real reason not to — she only slept with Finn when there seemed to be no complications, and as soon as they emerged, she backed off. Her self-control is astounding, especially for a teenager. But Clarke does (temporarily) allow her feelings to overwhelm her sense of obligation when it comes to Lexa. Clarke never chooses anything unless she can feel totally confident that it’s the right decision — and she chooses Lexa. For a few seconds, that is.

clexa2

Clarke’s choices are consistently depicted by the show as being good ones; she has to make difficult or debatable calls sometimes, but she’s not portrayed as being Wrong in the same way that Finn or early Murphy was. This feels important to me because in many ways, I was used to seeing bisexual women in relationships with women portrayed as lapsing, aberrating, or as somehow acting out of character; giving in to some deviant part of themselves. If they were with another woman, it was because they were taking a break from their “real” selves, which was assumed to want a stable relationship with a man; they were “misbehaving.” But Clarke doesn’t misbehave; Clarke doesn’t have lapses. Clarke isn’t interested in Lexa as an alternative to something or someone else; being attracted to Lexa doesn’t require a change in her character. In fact, being into Lexa makes much more sense for Clarke’s character than being into Finn did. Lexa and Clarke share experiences, values, have both been through things that no one else understands. I’m grateful for seeing this on TV because it depicts a (young!) woman for whom being with another woman is a reasonable choice, one that makes sense for her at least as much as a different-sex relationship would.

Both Clarke and Lexa spend much of the show struggling with whether they can allow themselves to feel human emotions and still have the strength to survive; the context for their kiss is that Clarke has just wondered out loud whether maybe both of them might deserve more than just survival. It’s never a bad thing to see a depiction of intimacy between women that’s worth surviving for. But I do wish I could have seen more than a few seconds of that possibility and not have it called almost immediately into question. I wish Clarke could have chosen Lexa in a way that was at least as emotionally committed as her connection with Finn, and I wish the show had chosen to give Clarke and Lexa’s relationship as much screen time and depth as, say, Jasper and Maya’s, or Raven and Wick’s (much as I want good things to happen for Raven).

Ultimately, I’m not sure that The 100 gives us quite the vanguard of bisexual representation that I had hoped for. It doesn’t mess up in the particular ways that I am used to watching pop culture representation of my community mess up, which is refreshing, but it’s also hard to mess up that badly when your representation is so brief and limited. (Not that it hasn’t been done!) In a universe largely defined by tragedy, violence, and terrible sacrifice, the moments of real human connection and the risks taken to protect it are what really make The 100 special — hopefully in Season 3 we’ll see a same-sex couple get to have that in a real way.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1047 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. I love The 100. I love that the female characters are extremely complex badasses, in positions of power (without it being a thing) and I like that Clarke realizes that saving her people is more important than any one relationship (be it romantic or not.)
    I don’t think we are likely to see Lexa again as the actress is now the new lead on The Walking Dead spinoff, which is a shame because I really like that character.
    That being said, Clarke and Bellamy were always clearly the endgame. As much as I liked Clarke and Lexa together, I don’t think it was a relationship that could have been sustained over the long run.

    • Also, Clarke is 18, not 17. I hate that I know that but that’s kind of a point in the beginning right? She gets sent to the ground because she’s just shy of 18 or else she would have been floated.

    • From what i have seen around the web it seems that AMC announced two seasons of this spinnoff with only 6 episodes each and it should start shooting about now. And The 100 doesn’t start until July.. So unless they are shooting both season back to back there shouldn’t be scheduling conflict for the actress. Also the people around The 100 seems to want to bring her back so i’m staying cautiously optimistic…..

      • This is not a confirmation Lexa will be back, please do not go around spreading false information, there have been no official confirmations, so this article is just speculation. No where in this article does it specifically state Alycia/Lexa are confirmed to be returning. This article only confirms that we will continue to see the Grounders, as in possible Indra, some of the Ice Nation, other Tree Kru members, because Lexa wasn’t the only grounder. Alycia is in an exclusive contract with AMC meaning they have to agree to share her with another network and those negotiations are still ongoing. Jason would make an official announcement if this was the case. And even though it would be great to see Lexa back and I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubbles but there has been no official confirmation back so don’t get your hopes up too much yet until that is made.

    • Why do you think Clarke and Bellamy were always intended to be endgame? I personally don’t think so. When I first started watching the show (it was already well into the second season), I was so surprised when I found out people even shipped Bellarke because I didn’t see any chemistry between them at all. I like them as co-leaders and friends but I never got the romantic vibe from them. It also seems like the creator, Jason Rotheberg, and a lot of the cast get annoyed when people ask about Bellarke because it was never intended to be a thing.

      • I feel the same way. I never really saw Clarke and Bellamy as anything more than amazing team leaders. They have this amazing chemistry between them but I don’t think it has to be romantic. Honestly, I’d be happy with whomever Clarke ends up with as long as it’s a loving and respectful relationship. I just want them to have this incredible strong friendship between them and it doesn’t matter to me if romance comes with that.

      • Though I love Lexa and Clarke, I felt like Bellarke were endgame too and kinda still do. There have been signs that the writers are def gonna put them together at some point, but very slowly, at least if it is anything like many sci-fi shows I love where the characters can take years to get together. For instance, there was that scene where Bellamy teaches Clarke to shoot or something like that and more…I like Bellamy now and am not opposed to that endgame. However, if the actress playing Lexa were to come back I would probably start shifting over to Team Clexa.

  2. I really enjoyed this show for so many reasons LIKE STRONG WOMEN PROTAGONISTS! but I think I was messed up by the hype going into it, expecting this big storyline rather than a two-minute scene!

    I was also profoundly disturbed by Finn’s merciless massacre and so disappointed in the show for having all his people stand behind him? I could barely get through those few episodes after.

    • I second your Finn comments. That was so major for me that I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. I knew there was nothing they could do with his character other than killing him off at that point, so I’m glad they did do that. I’m also glad that Clarke seemed to understand the weight of what Finn did but was just unwilling to lose another member of the Arc to be handed over and killed by the grounders. I think that’s the only reason she saved him.
      I did watch The 100 on Netflix but when I started, I had no idea what to expect wrt to Clarke/Lexa. (I didn’t even know there was a Lexa, etc.) so I had no expectations, which I think helped a lot.
      Regardless, I finished the show a couple of weeks ago and it still weighs on me. I can’t wait for the third season.

    • For what it’s worth, Riese, Katherine and I literally cheered when Finn was finally captured and subsequently executed. The moment he opened fire until his death, we were “NOPING” every second he was on screen.

      Clarke’s defense of Finn is her only action on the show that I strongly disagree with.

      • it felt like he was a white cop whose whole department stood behind him even though he was clearly in the wrong and killed unarmed people! you know? as soon as he finally was killed off i could relax and enjoy the show again.

        • Apt analogy! We’re re-watching the season from where Lexa is introduced, and while it’s good to see that nobody romanticizes the massacre (which could be a legitimate outcome for a lot of TV shows), it’s definitely frustrating to see how obstinate everyone is in just turning the damn kid over. I’ve interpreted Clarke’s reactions more as “I don’t condone what you did but maybe there’s a way to seek peace without having any more death” rather than a staunch defense of Finn, so I don’t know if I agree completely with Rachel’s assessment of the situation. I didn’t see anyone actually forgiving him – just looking for non-lethal ways to settle the matter.

          • Oops I completely erased 2×08 from memory. Nevermind. This episode alone undoes most of the good aspects of Clarke & Co.

            I don’t think the show was very clear on who we should be rooting for, but yeah, ugh so dumb that they did so much to evade justice for Finn’s warcrimes.

        • This analogy serves to show that the group behavior is not totally foreign or abnormal.

          It seems that human beings have the disgusting capacity to justify almost anything. At some point, maybe not the mayority, but a significant number of people thought: “Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse = Oh… well… we were fighting terrorism”.

          It was obvious, by the direction the show was having, that Finn was gonna end up dead after this.

          And Clarke’s actions showed that the characters in this show are not just heroes or villains. Maybe I’m weird, but I do enjoy the moral ambivalence.

    • Is this me?? DID I WRITE THIS??

      No but for real I was actually relieved when Finn went nuts because I was like, FINALLY HE TURNS INTO THE VILLAIN I’VE BEEN EXPECTING FROM A WHITE BOY WHO SEES HIMSELF AS A GOOD GUY, but then instead of the clear cut story I was expecting they all treat him like some heroic martyr?? I WAS SO MAD.

      And then they’re like: “Well, he did terrorize our people and massacre 18 unarmed members of our tribe when they were penned up like animals, I think it’s pretty fair that you hand him over to us so we can deal with this shit. We’ll call it even after that.” and everyone acts like it’s the craziest most barbaric thing they’ve ever heard? The only good thing to come from that whole storyline is that they finally killed him off.

      I was also ruined by the hype and was constantly enraged by all the problematic things in the show that I couldn’t really appreciate the better aspects of it.

      • right? when he went off the rails, no piece of me thought that the reaction would be so subdued. i was expecting them to really deal with it and i assumed finn would suffer some way for what he’d done with his own people. it did not occur to me for a second that the reaction would be what it was, and watching that happen was horrifying! they were like so hesitant to hand him over??? even the fact that murphy was the one yelling at him to stop while he was doing it made me think, yes, everybody knows that this is wrong, even murphy. they pretty much were willing to sacrifice anything to keep him safe. it wasn’t even a “blood must have blood” situation, it was a “this man is a monster and does not deserve to walk amongst men or animals right now” situation

        • This show is so weird to me because it has all these elements that it gets right like having interesting and complicated badass female characters who are unquestionably good at what they do, the queer element that no one blinks at, and then there are times like this where the all these awful dudes can do unspeakably awful things and never have to be held responsible for anything as long as they spend half a second feeling sad about it. He made a sad face and we got a flashback of him doing something nice for his girlfriend so all was apparently forgiven?? As soon as Clarke started saying “It wasn’t really Finn, he wasn’t himself!” I was just about pulling my hair out because how in the hell do these things come from the same writers??

          • “he was trying to find me!” “he was trying to save me!” GIRL THEY HAD ALREADY SEARCHED THE CAMP AND YOU WERE NOT THERE, NOW HE’S JUST KILLING PEOPLE

    • Maybe I am giving the writers too much credit, but I love The 100 because I feel like they set up scenarios that explain how insidious imperialism/colonialism/police brutality etc. can be. We start off with this group of kids who are our protagonists. They’ve crashed on Earth and have nowhere else to go. And right away, they start fucking up. They start killing the indigenous population left and right, basically. They start WARS because they’re scared and they’re dumb teenagers whose frontal lobes haven’t fully developed (particularly the boys). The moral compass starts spinning wildly, and because nearly every choice is reactive, the same people are making a combination of good choices and really bad ones. So by the time Finn kills those people in the camp, Clarke has burned 300 of the grounders to death, among other things. Clarke probably stands there stand and thinks (even if its subconsciously) gee, Finn fucked up, but I know him from when we were kids, and he’s a good guy, and I’ve kind of done some fucking up too. If he’s irredeemable, than so might I be. Suddenly, everything is a gray area.

      And bam, we see how a police department can stand behind a cop who shot an unarmed civilian. It’s not right, obviously, it’s awful, but there’s a psychological reason it happens all the time.

  3. This show definitely has some not so great moments, but “pretty good gender equity” hell ya! I’m actually so impressed with it (almost) all the time in terms of gender portrayals. How often in other shows/movies do we see women crying and yelling as men fight to protect them? Or standing on the sideline? Or just quietly following men’s orders? Or being dismissed as bossy or ridiculous when they try to take control? Then compare this to The 100. There are just so many strong, powerful, confident women. Seriously, Adina Porter and Marie Avgeropoulos and Raven and Clark and Lexa and Maya and Abigail and then this new holograph woman?!? And then the men! I like lots of the men too! It’s just so nice to watch an action-y post-apocalyptic show where I’m not constantly rolling my eyes at the portrayal of people in terms of stereotypical gender roles. Seriously, don’t even get me started on characters like Rick aka why-I-stopped-watching-Walking-Dead. But in The 100 men actually, dare I say it, seem to value women not just for their presence as potential mates! And there are scenes where two women make battle plans! Ok, I could go on forever on this. But I feel good about it. Minus when there are heaps of corpses, or bodies being thrown around or eaten. I’m not a big fan of those scenes.

    • When I arrived at the end of season 2, I realized, that the women had truly taken over the leading positions over the course of the seasons, while the men were relegated to extraneous storylines.
      Especially the Clarke/Abby dynamic reminded me a lot of old Prince/King, Father/Son tropes that were refitted into a Queen/Princess struggle.

  4. ONE MORE THING!! Again big spoiler (to the end of season 1 I think?). Clarke stabbing Finn was just my favourite. I know they made it all sad for her and like she had no other choice, but it still made me happy happy.

  5. “and somebody climb inside a warhead to use it as a spaceship because a hallucination of their dead kid encouraged them to. No one is fucking around here.” HA!

    We can talk about spoilers, right? Ya, I too marathoned the show after hearing about it here and kept waiting for the lady lovin’ action. I actually shipped Clarke/Octavia after that swimming scene, and probably still would if I didn’t like Lincoln so much. I eventually got too impatient and wiki’d her love interest so I’d calm down. Also I’m super bummed they killed off Anya, I really like that actress.

    I also sort of interpreted her supporting Finn as her fucking up and letting her emotions take over? Like she was in denial about it really happening. That’s why we’re led to believe she’s going over there to stab Lexa, and instead she makes the right choice. But I only watched it once and really quickly, I’ll need to go back again.

    I thought her suspicions about the Mountain Men turning out to be true was one of the weakest parts of the show so far. She was practically clairvoyant that they were evil. Also why did they crash the other ship? I was never clear on that.

    All in all I really like the show, although I feel like the deaths never really impact me. Comparing it to Game of Thrones or the Walking Dead isn’t super fair, but the brutality is kind of similar while the deaths feel much more weighted. That could just be the target audience being different though.

    Clarke does remind me of Buffy, which is one of the highest compliments I can give. I’m pumped for Season 3, I hope the show continues being awesome!

    • I actually thought it was gonna be Clarke and Octavia who ended up having the arc! because of the way she looked at her when she was taking her clothes off and getting into the water, and because i just remembered vaguely from photos that the person with clarke had dark hair and lots of eye paint around her eyes and so once it was hinted that octavia would be involved with grounders i was like, oh that’s who it’s with! but then i also started to like lincoln and was like oh no, he’s going to die so that they can be together, and then you know for a while i was so confused and then i remembered that someone had written clarke/lexa in a comment on another post when this girl said her name was lexa i was like OHHHHHHH

  6. So I’ve been watching this show for a good bit now ( I LOVE IT) and the most important thing to me, was to see the very clear path of THEY ARE GOING TO KISS VERY SOON in the few episodes before the big lesbian liplock.

    And with my background in medieval literature, I not only saw this as very-relevant-to-me, but also as a unity of the tribes, and a knights before battle thing, and as a totally valid and very bisexual thing, which is what gives this more depth than some of the random other kisses that happen in Sci-Fi.

    I HOPE that there are all kinds of feelings in the next season, and I was totally shipping Raven/Clarke at one point.

  7. LOVE THIS SHOW. And the strong female protagonist and the seemingly matriarchal lines of leadership in some (all?) of the tribes of the Grounders. I was also sad that the Lexa/Clark thing was so brief. Especially because Finn got so much screen time with Clarke. But in some ways, it was fitting. Finn wanted Clarke, but he was never equal to Clarke. He was a boy and then a soldier and she was always a leader. She and Lexa meet on equal ground. There is something that makes much more sense about their attraction to each other, as well as their ability to walk away from each other. No one is leading anyone on. They both know what their priorities must be. It makes the desire for each other feel more real to me, that they have an understanding of each other as leaders in impossible situations. And in some ways that is the most badass thing about them as individuals. Of course, it make me want Clexa to be a thing even more.

    Oh, and I was also not on Team Finn. He went on a shooting rampage, killing unarmed adults and children? Uh…I don’t care if he was having sad boy feelings. No empathy for him. None.

  8. I wonder if the great expectation surrounding The 100 and the queer representation ultimately backfired for a lot of people recently joining the show. I started watching it in late January when there were no queer characters, and I still managed to love it despite the lack of queer characters. (I actually remember remarking outloud at the beginning of Season 2 that the show would be that much better if it wasn’t so straight). The incorporation of Lexa, and then the subsequent build-up to the kiss with Clarke blew me away because I had no expectations and it just worked. Their storyline together made sense and the two characters had sizzling chemistry. I think that’s why ultimately I’ve loved the relationship as it is much more than what Rachel and a few others have noted here, so it’s kind of a mixed-bag with their relationship drawing in more viewers who ultimately expect some grand romantic arc that just isn’t there (yet).

    • Yeah I think I would’ve been like OMG THIS IS THE SHIT if i’d just been watching it and suddenly something queer happened — much like I felt when I was watching Glee and suddenly Santana was a lesbian, I was like I AM NOT EVEN HERE FOR THIS BUT NOW THIS IS HERE!!! I’d just already read this thing on The Mary Sue that was gushing over the cannon bisexual and it really set me up.

    • This, PaperOfFlowers, all of it. I also binged the show in Jan and LOVED it. I loved this show so much that I was thinking of it CONSTANTLY and of writing up an entire blog post on my hardly-updated blog about it. Most of the story lines are pretty interesting and speak to our humanity, choices we make for survival, good/evil, morality, etc. In this type of show, the romances are all secondary to the bigger questions. And given the context of the TV world we still live in, I also had zero expectations for queer characters, much less a lead. Then when I started to clue in that the writers might go there with the characters AND then when they actually did, it was the best unexpected little gift ever! And I don’t think their storyline was short – as someone else commented, the kiss did not happen out of thin air. They had a lot of screen time together before they kissed.

      Gosh, just reading this article and the comments brought my obsession of this show back to the forefront of my mind. Perhaps, I might yet do that blog post to add to the queer commentary.

  9. Hopefully Robert Kirkman will maintain his Walking Dead tradition of killing characters like flies and Alycia Debnam-Carey can return sooner to The 100.

    Her character on Fear the Walking Dead is listed, according to IMDB, for “unknown episodes”.

  10. I went into the show with exactly zero expectations, so had the luxury to be pleasantly surprised by this “Teens are dropped onto the Earth” premise.
    I actually appreciated the Finn goes bad situation for the moral dilemma it represented.
    You forget, that the Arkers are not necessarily the good guys!
    They are the invaders, the conquistadores. They spent the first season not altogether realizing that the Grounders were people, not just enemies.
    Now, the theme of the second season was pretty much: How far would you go to save your own? And everyone on that show went very,very far.
    I liked the whole: “There’s been so much going on, but somehow this is different, irredeemable, and we can’t really pinpoint why and we can’t really wrap our head around it, either, could this have happened to one of us? Could I have done this? Where’s the line that Finn stepped over?But it’s Finn! Goodytwo shoes, Spacewalker Finn!He couldn’t really?Could he?” thing they had going there.
    I liked how overwhelmed and disbelieving everyone was.
    Suddenly their sense of Right (they) and wrong (the Grounders) was flipped upside down.
    It was a valid turning point for their perception and their relationship with the Grounders and it foreshadowed Abby’s inability to make necessary decisions involving any kind of death or sacrifice.
    It also foreshadowed Clarke’s primary drive to do anything to save her own people, no matter if right or wrong.
    I don’t know if I’m giving them too much credit there, but that does tie in well with the final two episodes of the season.
    Now speaking of which:
    That kiss wasn’t a full relationshippy kind of deal. It was more of a “my Lesbian Spider Senses are tingling with subtext….and whoa!!! I was right!! I was right!!” Kind of situation.
    Think Rizzles or Swanqueen kissing and then Emma being confirmed as a canon Bi character.(I’d hug strangers on the street) And then asking Regina if she wants to hop on over to the Emerald City with her.
    It was confirmation.On a primetime network show.
    And it wasn’t for any titillating, sweeps, throwaway purposes either!
    Without that kiss, Lexa’s betrayal wouldn’t have been as bitter.
    Furthermore,it was set in a “Maybe this is more than just about survival/You care/I trust You” dialogue, and guess what?
    Dystopian Earth is about survival only, cupcakes, and caring is a luxury.
    Now, I really, really wanted to mention, that whatever they did right or wrong on the show that would be more aptly named “The less than 50” by now, they let Lexa run into Machine Gun Fire and did.not.kill.the.Lesbian.
    May we meet again, indeed.
    I can’t wait!!!

    P.S.: I read a short piece on a mainstream site about Lexa being the poster child for consent in that kissing scene and I thought that her respect for and continued interest in a girl “Who’s not ready,not yet.” was a sweet touch on a (very gory) teen show.

  11. I think that the whole Finn massacre thing didn’t outrage me as much as other people, because a) he got his comeuppance and it was made clear that THAT WAS THE RIGHT THING and b) the people in The 100 have some really fucked up moral compasses anyway. They float people for tiny infractions, the Grounders entire society seems to be built around war and death and punishment, there is death around all of the time. We don’t live in their world, so the true horror of what Finn has done resonates with US. But of course the Ark ppl would just see it as ‘another awful thing in a list of continually awful things that has been happening’. c) I actually think that Finn losing it like that was a representation of the fact that THESE ARE KIDS WHO HAVE BEEN PUSHED TO EXTREMES. They are all probs suffering from PTSD and trauma. They have seen and done things that are just too much. Think about what they’ve been through. It’s kinda fitting that they can’t always keep it together and act morally.

    • The only thing that redeemed Finn from being loathsome was that he was consistent in turning himself in. He was willing to take responsibility for his actions while everyone else essentially lost their minds to stop him. I still hate 2×08 as an episode, but it ended beautifully.

  12. If you came in late to this story looking for a full-fledged romantic storyline between Lexa and Clarke, then yeah, you’re going to be disappointed. But stick with it! There isn’t space for many relationships in this world of war and survival that everyone’s immersed in. The good news is that the writers of this show are playing the long game. They’re setting up a series of shifting sands and allegiances that are going to tug at our heartstrings like crazy, because we know and love the girl or woman at the head of every one of them. And yes, there’s a girl at the head of every group (except the evillest one)! And these ladies are effing strong. Sometimes, they are ruthless, and they all make plenty of brutal mistakes — but they make fewer brutal mistakes than the boys and men. I feel like with the 100 they finally made a gory action show that is geared towards women, and I LOVE it.

  13. Clarke Griffin is a remarkable character and the exact moment I fell in with her (as a character) was in season 1, when the president of the Mountain Men leaves her with a trunk of nice clothes and jewelry and shoes to get dressed for dinner. Clarke runs her hands over all the things in the trunk and the show zigs, setting up viewers to believe that she is admiring these fine things she hasn’t seen in a long, if ever. But then it zags when Clarke SNAPS THE HEEL OFF A SHOE and clutches it like a weapon to a) subvert the image of a young woman being swayed by pretty things and b) remind you that Clarke Griffin is a survivor in a nightmarish hellscape and she will stab every last person on the planet to protect the Arkers.

    Or will she? The other arc I really liked this season for Clarke was her blossoming as a leader. In season she very clearly had leadership qualities but this season she got to put them into practice on a much broader scale as she learned from various other leaders. She learned what she would and wouldn’t be willing to do for her people and I wonder if she’ll ever be tested to a limit, where she says the moral cost in general is way too high even if it means my people get hurt. The 100 has been pretty good about exploring the relativity of morality and establishing that in this world, perhaps there is no objective good or bad vs. the question that if there IS an objective good/bad, then in what case is it acceptable to simply let the human race die out?

  14. I wanted to address the whole “everyone is okay with Finn’s massacre” thing, because I don’t think it’s accurate and I think there is a larger point being made.

    Of course Clarke doesn’t want to turn him over not just because of her connection with him, but because SHE FEELS RESPONSIBLE. Clarke WANTS to do the right thing, but like most characters in this show, the “right” thing is not always clear. Sometimes there is no “right.” She states it outright to Lexa: “He did this for me. Take me.” She’s willing to PAY THE PRICE for his actions, because she knows the Grounders are not unreasonable in wanting someone to pay for a horrific act.

    The Sky People (meaning Abby) just can’t see past the us/them dynamic enough to recognize that the Grounders have a legitimate claim, and of course, actually confronting what they consider brutality from the Grounders means that they would have to consider their own longheld methods of punishment, WHICH ARE THE SAME THING. So they’re still in denial.

    As for Clarke always being the “good guy”, I think ultimately that is the dilemma that people on this show face. What do you do when there is no option that is morally excusable? You take the option that gets your people out alive. And in her case, numerous times now, that has meant she has to make the choice that masses of people die.

    Her reaction at the end of Season 2 is telling. She wants to be the good guy, but she knows that her choices have left her little room to claim that title. And now she has to live with the blood of hundreds of people on her hands. She can’t be the good guy, because that concept doesn’t really mean anything anymore.

    She’s beginning to understand this, and also her mother Abby is beginning to see how much the choices they made on the Ark are not all that different from the choices Clarke has faced.

    I could talk about the moral questions in this show all day long. Anyone who is that nerdy and wants to dissect The 100 with, feel free to say hello on Tumblr or Twitter. /djshiva at both. 😉

  15. I don’t think it’s fair to judge Clarke and Lexa’s short moments of intimacy as a let down if you only started watching The 100 for the romance. That’s not fair to the show or the writers. The writers have stated several times that this show is not about ships and romantic plots, and like Rachel said, there are many bigger things to worry about in the show (such as survival!!!). So if you only came here for the same-sex romance, then this show isn’t for you.

    I really like what Rachel wrote about Clarke’s attraction to Lexa not being out of character. I agree with what she said about how normally attraction to the same sex for a bisexual character is usually seen as delving into one’s deviant desires. That’s why I love this show. Clarke’s not taken aback when Lexa kissed her. She wasn’t confused about why Lexa was kissing her or if she wanted to kiss Lexa back. The show didn’t write it as Clarke giving into deviant desires. In my opinion, the show did a remarkable job of showing a realistic depiction of bisexuality.

    I am normally really upset when characters do not self-identify as bisexual when they are attracted to more than one sex. But in the case of The 100, it doesn’t bother me. No one identified Lexa’s sexual orientation either and I think the decision to leave all labels out of the script works for this show. If they had introduced Lexa as a lesbian character but neglected to identify Clarke as a bisexual, then I’d have a problem. But they did no such thing. Lexa and Clarke, and all the other characters on the show are just humans who love and care for others. They will be attracted to whomever they are attracted to, whether it be same sex or other sexes. No one bats an eyes and I would like more shows to take this route. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of labels. When Callie on Grey’s Anatomy self-identified as bisexual and addressed bisexual erasure this season, I cried because it was finally being said on network television. When Brenna on Chasing Life corrected those around her after they continually called her “gay”, I was practically shaking my laptop, I was so happy! I understand the importance and the community people find with labels. That being said, I do appreciate that The 100 was able to show us diverse sexualities without making a big deal out of it.

  16. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful piece. And thanks too to all the commenters who just seem to get this show’s dystopian profundities, moral quagmires, and brief moments of love that make survival worth fighting for.

    One note: I think Clarke is shown making some leadership mistakes, particularly early on. She inadvertently ignites the near lynching of Murphy, then harshly rejects 12 year old murderer Charlotte’s reaching out for her hand for comfort during their flight into the woods. In the first instance, Bellamy reproved her — “What did you think was going to happen when you accused Murphy in front of the crowd?” In the second, Finn admonishes Clarke and points out that Charlotte is “just a kid” and cannot be expected how to know right from wrong, nor friend from foe, in this nightmare they are living.

    Later Clarke banishes Murphy to near certain death by the Grounders, and that hasty and immature decision comes back to bite her several times over, such as when Murphy is used by the Grounders to deliver a virus to the Sky camp and so soften up the battlefield. A softening up that Murphy abets when he actively kills two former tormentors and thus weakens the defense even more. In another instance Clarke petulantly removes her communications wrist band to trick and punish her mother into thinking she’s dead. Finn, psychologically more astute than Clarke, is not impressed, nor was he content to accept that straight up character Wells had been Clarke’s betrayer: instead it was Clarke’s mother who had some very good reasons for acting as she did.

    So, all in all, I think we see Clarke as a new, immature, untested, if natural leader in season 1. In Season 2 Lexa sees Clarke early on as innovative, daring, and a skilled rhetorician, even if she resists some of Clarke’s arguments. Later Lexa recognizes that Clarke is brilliant and trustworthy and true of heart. But Lexa sees too that Clarke needs toughening in this harsh post apocalyptically world, and some lessons in leading, and she provides her with her own counsel whenever possible. That’s a kind of mentoring and love one gives to an extraordinary, but not flawless leader.d

  17. I don’t know why you think Clarke and Lexa’s relationship didn’t have screen time; all their scenes totaled is like 40 minutes. Just because they weren’t kissing that whole time doesn’t mean their relationship wasn’t given time and care.

  18. I love Otterstraddle! The writers are so good, and the readers are so smart and passionate. I’ve seen on other sites where this discussion would have degraded into name-calling and other juvenile bullshit…but not straddlers; we are eloquent and have well thought out arguments.

    I love this show, I started watching it because it was all over my Tumblr, I just had to check it out. I thought Clexa had a nice slow simmering build up. I thought that brought that Finn storyline to a clean end and solidified Clarke as a born leader.

    That is all.

  19. I think the show is in need of more queer representation, but I think in order to do this they need to also reveal and introduce more queer characters (I wouldn’t be opposed to the Miller/Monty relationship tbh) than just simply introducing Lexa back. Do I want Lexa to come back? Yes. Do I want Lexa/Clarke’s tumultuous relationship to be our only representation on the show? Hell no.

    Truth is, Clarke killed her first love like 2 weeks ago according to the timeline. She just committed genocide. She is genuinely at a horrible place mentally right now. Lexa had just left her and her people (her friends and her own mother) to be tortured and systematically murdered. Clarke isn’t ready to be in a relationship for a long time. With anyone. And after 2×15, if they pair her with Lexa as soon as Lexa gets back; that would be bad writing that I hope they avoid. I’d love to see Clarke and Lexa’s interaction, but if they have them kissing again after 5 episodes then I will know that they have rushed a love story on the show once again (The 100 is great, but am I the only one who has noticed that they aren’t that great at writing romantic couples? Their couples are all ‘in love’ with each other after 6 days).

    What they need to do is introduce more queer characters. Whether they be love interests or not; the presence is necessary. As I said before, I’d love to see Monty or Miller (or BOTH) as queer, Monroe, Echo etc etc.

  20. What a fucking beautiful post. Thank you so much. I love The 100 and these are my exact thoughts about the show and Clarke’s bisexuality! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more Lexa and Clarke in season 3.

  21. I don’t really have anything to offer in regards to Clarke/Lexa that you haven’t already touched on above (except that since at least the gorilla episode their relationship felt more than platonic to me) but I would like to comment on the topic of colonization that you mentioned.

    It’s tempting to draw comparisons between the tree people/arker interplay and the eradication of Native Americans at the hands of European invaders but the tree people are not Native Americans and to compare them is a disservice to a group that is alternatively romanticized or maligned in fiction.

    The tree people are removed 97 years from the slightly-futuristic US, less than three generations. A more apt,and frankly more-interesting, way of looking at the tree people is to view them as they are–a sub group of the American culture.

    The survivors in the ark, in the mountain, and on the ground are groups of the US population that have been divided by intersections of education, class, and minority groups.

    Their ancestors worth and status relative to the society values at the time of the war contributing hugely to where they ended up and how much their lives are a struggle to survive.

    Those in the mountain being more likely than other groups to be rich, white,important government officials,or essential support crew at the time of the war and have relative comfort.

    Depending on the source of the ark the population was either mostly scientists with military affiliations or those who could afford to escape the earth (albeit from multiple countries of origin).

    This leaves everyone on the ground as too unimportant or too poor to warrant their survival being a guarantee. Which is why the tree people are shown as being more ethnically diverse than the mountain men (and to a lesser extent those in power on the ark) and could play a large role in how quickly a completely separate dialect of American English was created in less than a hundred years.

    TLDR: Grounders aren’t and shouldn’t be treated as a Native American expy.

  22. Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks
    I’ve read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you’ve got
    the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this blog.

  23. I just can’t get into any shows that would try to make its audience sympathize with colonialists. As an African that’s just insulting to all the misery colonialism has made us gone through (we’re still going through FYI) I rather watch a spin off show solely based on the grounders. I can’t care for these arkers bisexual or not, them and the mount weather people should get nuked. I stopped watching after S2X08

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