It is no longer unusual to see blood, violence, and gore on TV, as well as a scenes balancing on the verge of porn. Being an avid TV series watcher, I noticed that not all developments are negative, however. An example of a good change is a stronger representation of LGBT community on screen.
I’d like to focus here on The 100 – TV series that has quite strong and well-shaped representation for the LGBT community. Of course, even this show isn’t without failures. Portrayed by Eliza Taylor and appearing as one of the leaders of teenage delinquents from space sent to Earth almost 100 years after nuclear apocalypse, the protagonist of the series, Clarke Griffin, is a bisexual character.
Clarke enters into an affair with another character, Lexa (Alycia Debnam Carey), the Commander of the Grounders, indigenous inhabitants of the Earth. For almost the whole season, we can follow the development of the romance of this ‘power couple’ or ‘Clexa’ as the couple was called in the internet world of fandom – those who follow and support or ‘ship’ different on-screen relationships creating the nicknames from the couple’s names. Another thing that makes this couple special is a focus on their dynamics in tough times of a looming war, not the sweet romancing and all things involved with it.
Taking off Debnam Carey’s character off the show, even if it somehow made sense plot-wise, angered Clexa shippers and many members of the LGBT community. The producers of The 100 were accused of falling into very harmful and detrimental ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope on TV. ‘Bury Your Gays’ or ‘Dead Lesbian Syndrome’ is a long standing trope in films and TV series, which means that gay characters just aren’t allowed to have happy endings. Even if they do end up having some kind of relationship, at least one half of the couple, often the one who was more aggressive in pursuing a relationship has to die at the end.
An additional problem is the tendency that gay characters are killed off in a story full of mostly straight characters. Many got reminded of another series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which served its fans back in the 90’s a very similar situation of a lesbian character being shot and killed just moments after she had sex with Buffy.
After airing the fateful episode, the producers spent a lot of time apologising and trying to appease the fans with moderate success. But that’s not the end of the story. Now comes the part which truly made me smile. Alycia Debnam Carey did such a wonderful job in her portrayal of Lexa that a lot of members of LGBT community ‘chose’ her and the character to be a champion of their cause. A site called We Deserved Better, emerging from a hashtag trending on Twitter ‘Lexa Deserved Better’, launched into a fundraiser for a US organisation The Trevor Project. The organisation helps depressed teenagers from LGBT community, and the sum they raised amounted to almost 200,000 dollars. Also in March 2017 the first ClexaCon, a media and entertainment convention for LGBTQ community took place in Las Vegas, where apart from having fun, many problems of LGBTQ issues in the public sphere were discussed.
I certainly hope that the result of the uproar will be a positive one for the LGBTQ community. Perhaps the beginning can be such a seemingly insignificant thing as reducing unjust tropes on our TV screens, which is so hurtful to this LGBTQ minority as so many of their favourites are killed off just because they are who they are. An amazing job by Alycia Debnam Carey did something the producers could never intend or predict. It gave people energy to act and they try very hard to have a voice that can be heard. I hope the LGBT community will succeed in changing the attitude towards homosexual or bisexual characters on screen.