Monday, March 07, 2016

Your Happy Ending

So something terrible happened to another lesbian character on TV last week. Without getting into the specifics (or spoilers), it’s safe to say that people are sad/angry/confused/exasperated/heartbroken et al. Because that’s what happens to when people become invested in the storylines of all too often marginalized groups – they invest. We invest hard. We invest it all. So then when the bottom falls out, we’re all too often left feeling even more alone and broken and miserable. And what makes it feel especially cruel all too often is the proximity to blissful happiness with which our untimely undoing comes. Consider it the Tara Maclay Effect.

The thing is, our stories matter to us so much because there are so few of them for us to cling to in the first place. For straight, white, non-trans audiences it’s easy to find stories to invest in because there are an infinite number of them to choose from in the first place. Don’t like that one? How about this one? Or that one? Or these 500,000 other ones? And still not happy with those 500,000, don’t worry another 500,000 more are coming.

But for LGBT audiences the paucity of great storylines – despite the wonderful strides we’ve taken in media in recent years – means each one still matters that much more. It’s why a film like “Carol” can matter to so many queer ladies, when to the straight world it may seem like just another love story. Or why a show like “Lost Girl” can resonate with so many gay gals, when to the straight world it may seem a little silly. Or why a rom-com like “Imagine Me & You” is held close to the heart of so many lesbian, bisexual and questioning women, when to the straight world it may seem lightweight. Seeing our reflections and our own happiness reflected back matters.

It will always matter for every group of people unaccustomed to seeing themselves on screen. Over the decades, we’ve become adept at seeing ourselves in other people’s stories. It’s a skill we’ve adapted to perfection out of basic necessity. But to be able to look up and instantly identify – without happing to jump through the mental hoops of transference – is a gift.

Look, one day all of this won’t matter as much. We will have our own millions of stories to choose from as well. So when we hurt of bleed or die it will be all right – because that’s what all humans do after all. We’re not there yet, but if we keep pushing and pulling and protesting and one day we will be.

But, remember this today. No matter what happens on TV shows, gay ladies, take heart. The happy endings you deserve are out there in real life.

p.s. SPOILER ALERT ALERT ALERT: I am talking about the show “The 100” which killed Lexa in it’s last episode. So that’s that.

22 comments:

Helena said...

Thank you for so eloquently putting our feelings into words. Have a good week.

sabine said...

Really well said - thanks for that. Love your posts :)

Florence said...

Beautifully said. Thank you

Riki said...

The damage this particular TV show has caused is heartbreaking. What is even worse is that they were perfectly aware of this awful trope, discussed it even, but went along with it anyway.

Carmen SanDiego said...

I was just about to start watching it, so glad I didn't... Sigh. Tara Maclay all over again.

Anonymous said...

Well said. As always.

Jaibrd said...

I had just started watching the show, not even done with season one yet.
What a bummer. Lovely post. Thanks.

Cheryl said...

I feel a little out of touch here. What show are we talking about?

Anonymous said...

Aside from the lesbian issue, I am disappointed because this character provided an excellent counterpoint to the other female character. Really good actress in the part, but apparently she has another gig so she was a goner, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm w/Cheryl and totally out of the loop. Maybe later in the week, Dorothy, you can do some name dropping and help your less clued in readers out.

Anonymous said...

I am a long time fan of the show in question and I really don't see why everyone is so upset. She didn't die because she was gay, she was the leader of an army. It was going to happen soon or later whether the character was a man, woman, gay or straight. I think it was beautifully handled and integral to the plot and story this season is trying to tell. The character death has been building since the beginning of the season - it was no a surprise. Plus, as someone said earlier, the actress in question has a leading role in a major drama now - she wasn't going to be sticking around as a 'guest star' for long either way..

Sally A Johns said...

As always, so perfectly stated and on point.
Thank you.
I hope you're feeling much better.

PennyPiper said...

I feel like you're the emotional fairy godmother / big hero 6 big puffy hugger for all of the heartbroken lil lesbians. I'm a little resigned.. A little jaded. I've been through Xena and Tara and countless others.. With each I was a little more removed for the next go round. This one still got me. Such a well rounded character.. Not a token by any stretch and yet still. Still. The TROPE virus rears its ugly head. Sigh.
Thanks as always for being a tour guide though the wilderness of our collective heartbreak.

Anonymous said...

Who is Tara Maclay? If it was that hideous girl on buffy, yech.

Raqueza Hernandeza said...

Dorothy I love you for sending this message. It's time for us to LIVE our happy endings. I think this character resonated so much because as a collective we identify with empowered women. Now it's time to identify with the belief that we deserve happy endings. True real life happy endings. And this is just the beginning.

Franzi said...

Considering the idea of reincarnation was introduced when that particular character was introduced it was always clear that that character had to go in order to explore this spiritual element. Their sexual orientation had nothing to do with it.

Even though I'm heartbroken I actually do think that this death pushes the story forward in a way that couldn't have been achieved otherwise. And since the show sticks to their foreshadowing it was always just a matter of time. Unlike some other show creators the executives & writers for this show care about continuity.

Actually I'm happy we even got to see this character in season 3 since I thought they would write her out of the show during the season 2 finale because of the actors other TV show. And if that would have been the case the Internet and the lgbt community would still have flipped and complained just as they do now. In terms of the overall storyline though we got a much better ending for this character than we would have gotten at the end of season 2.

I agree that it is frustrating to lose another great lgbt character but in this case I feel the anger is wrongly placed since that character's purpose (in part) was always to explain the spiritual aspect and the reincarnation stuff and therefore to die.

The timing sucks though - I just wanted them to be happy for more than 5 goddamn minutes!

Anonymous said...

Its always nice to see that the apologists cant shut the fuck up with all the excuses that her existence was good enough and that killing her after 5 minutes of happiness isnt BS. Everybody knows why she was killed, for the plot & because of the actresses other commitments. Thing is they had time to do her death justice and didnt have to do it 5 minutes after her feelings were returned by the woman she loved. Thats the issue here & it makes me sick people are trying to make this entire situation into something as petty as "lesbians cant die" or "it was all for the ship". She didnt die fighting, she didnt die protecting Clarke she died for shock value and a "twist" people saw coming without having to see her body treated like it was.

I wont even get into the manipulation perpetrated by those in power to bait & mislead the fans of this character that she was in fact alive 9 episodes after she was killed.

Anonymous said...

I knew it was going to happen as soon as I saw her name shown as "guest staring" in the opening credits of the first episode of the season, but I still wasn't prepared for that. I didn't know she was going to be in another show so she had to be written off, but still they could've handled it much better.

long-time reader, first-time commenter said...

There were TWO major issues with Lexa's death, and I think it's really important to separate and identify each:

(1) Lexa dies following a beautifully rendered love scene showing Clarke had finally forgiven Lexa after a complicated relationship arc that'd been evolving since season 2, episode 7. They fall into bed An intimate pillow talk scene. Clarke returns to her bedroom. Argument. Gunfire. Death scene. Excluding the commercial, it was less than 4 minutes from them in bed to a bullet in Lexa. Literally. I timed it.

** By itself, this would have caused Buffy flashbacks, been offensive, and pissed people off. However, I don't think it would've sparked the explosive reaction we saw without this second part. **

(2) The showrunner and writers "consciously engaged fans, specifically about this story and relationship. They asked for their feedback, their trust, and their support. And they got it…in spades. The queer community (esp the younger demographic) did their part. They tweeted, they promoted the show, they wrote fic, they had HOPE. And whether they should have or not, b/c I do know what show we are all watching, the fact is, they did. Because the creator, and to a lesser extent the writers and actors, asked them to, told them that they could trust them, they understood, that they deserved respect and representation. And I’m sorry, to almost every LGBTQ person I know that means we are not going to kill your favorite queer character using the same damn tired trope." (from http://goo.gl/ZrxCex)

edited to add the commercial break, she said...

They fall into bed. Commercial. An intimate pillow talk scene. Clarke returns to her bedroom. Argument. Gunfire. Death scene. Excluding the commercial, it was less than 4 minutes from them in bed to a bullet in Lexa. Literally. I timed it.

Saba said...

I'm not sure why anyone would invest all too hard in Lexa. From the moment she was credited as guest star and not picked up to the main cast it was clear that her time on the show would be finite. Considering her role as a contested leader in a violent world it wasn't hard to guess how she would end up. Even her successors were presented a few episodes earlier.
Frankly, from the decisions she made I'm surprised she survived as long as she did.

-LisaW said...

I tend to agree with Franzi's comments.

I was gutted because I loved the character. The fact that she was a lesbian was just a bonus to me. Yes, the timing sucked. However, we all knew she was leaving the show and we all know people die in this show. Lexa being a lesbian was just a horrible coincidence. What else did anyone expect to happen to her?

In any case, it is an amazing show even if there were/are no lesbian characters, so I hope people continue to watch.