People who talk to me on a regular basis would probably tell you that I get angry, a lot. That I get angry at media more often than anything. And that I’m ready to unleash my opinions on a trigger notice. I’ll go off about story-telling flaws–I’ve got long lists of ‘wouldn’t it be cool if?’ or ‘I would have done it this way if I was in charge.’ My other major aggravation is lack of representation. It’s been so cool this last year to see How to Get Away with Murder and Star Wars: Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road do well. The fact that women-led movies have dominated the box office the last couple of years is great. We’ve got more in a lot of ways.
And yet, somehow, a lot of the shows I watch decided that now was a great time to start killing off LGBT characters–specifically LGBT women. In the last week and a half alone, two different shows have killed same-sex inclined women. This trend isn’t anything new either. Autostraddle’s ever growing list goes back decades.
The trend is outright frustrating, especially in most cases the deaths aren’t necessary to continue the plot. Even more so because there are so few queer characters in the first place that killing them often means not seeing or finding another queer character for seasons–if the show gets to continue that long in the first place. The Walking Dead is now six seasons done with hundreds of characters, yet only five have ever been openly declared LGBT characters. Three of those have been women and two of those three are dead. The Vampire Diaries is in its seventh season and has had few queer characters to begin with, but they just decided to blow up Nora and Mary-Louise (the only f/f couple I can recall) in one move.
My largest source of anger comes from the fact that these characters are often killed for the sake of a main man’s plot. Supernatural producers defend their Charlie-killing (one of like only 5 LGBT identified characters in the show’s 200+ episode history) as ‘where the story took them.’ In this case, that was to get Dean to the point where he’d be willing to go kill a bunch of men. And it had to be death because, you know, torturing or kidnapping a character he saw like a little sister wouldn’t have been enough to set off the already everyone-kept-commenting-on-anger-levels Dean. Right. Never mind that Charlie had been out surviving on her own for practically a year, somehow she lost a fight when she literally should have climbed out the window. ‘For the story.’
Denise’s death on The Walking Dead isn’t any better. For one, she’s one where they decided to change comic book cannon. Instead of hooking up with Heath, she was with Tara. On top of that, Denise survived longer than her comic-counterpart. I’d assumed it’d be so we could have a lot longer with her–Carol’s still alive seasons after. But no, Denise uttered that she was scared about love and then bammo, less than a minute later she has an arrow through the eye. And what have the only effects been so far? Daryl getting pissed off and going out on a revenge spree (that was quickly cut off) and Rosita joining him on that. (You could attempt to argue that was why Maggie needed to go to Hilltop–without their doctor, she needed care. However, I will remind you that Denise was a novice doctor with limited resources while the Hilltop’s doctor was an obgyn with an ultrasound and Maggie’s pain has been abdominal. They would have needed to go to Hilltop anyway.)
On Arrow, Sarah Lance died because Malcolm wanted Oliver to deal with the League of Assassins for him. Oh, and the source of extra angst for most of that season was not telling her father because of his ‘weakened’ condition (a condition that seems to come and go as needed…) I don’t even know why Toshiko Sato of Torchwood had to die except those producers were getting rid of like everyone but Gwen and Jack (no, really, it’s inside of four episodes of the show that you lose 60% of the cast). But considering her death was part of Gray’s plan (worst plan and villain ever, btw) of revenge on Jack, that means that Tosh didn’t die as part of her own plot, but his.
Nora and Mary-Louise’s deaths on The Vampire Diaries were completely unexpected as well. I’m not even sure why the story went that way, and honestly it’s been hard understanding where this season’s story arc wanders in any given episode. I’d say they died for their own cause, except there’s a hitch with that. See, they blow this relic so that they don’t get separated. Sure. Makes sense, makes it about them. Only this moment is entirely framed around the fact that Stephan is laying on the ground, soul in the damn relic. And I don’t know why Raina threw her sword at Nora and Mary-Louise when she spent a chunk of the episode getting the sword back. Just doesn’t make any sense, unless it’s done entirely to prevent easy re-ensouling of Stephan, therefore, they died ’cause of a guy.
These have just been the characters I’m most familiar with in recent years. The frustration stems from the fact that 1. It’s so hard to find LGBTQA characters to begin with, 2. That they get to be fully realized characters in the first place and not just stereotypes, and 3. You get to spend just enough time with them that you can find something relatable. So it’s devastating that over and over, I get to have hope that these characters exist in these often violent worlds. I get to see that, hey yeah, there’s all kinds of people! That the world is wide and full of possibilities. And just when I get used to the idea, those characters are ripped away. With Nora and Mary-Louise, I was like ‘yes, awesome! we get to go through the ‘my lover is dying and I’ll do anything to save her’ plot/trope, only to have that turn into a ‘if we can’t be together we’ll die on our own terms’ inside of an episode–meanwhile Damen gets to fucking lament about Elena and/or Stephan for like the millionth time.
So I’m going to propose that for the next 5 years tv doesn’t kill another LGBT woman. Hell, at the current rate, I will take the next 5 weeks. I want the chance to feel included, not to sit there wondering how long until the clock runs out on the queer women this week. Come on, it’s not that hard to let characters live in these fictional worlds.
After all, the lead guys are all still there.