A week and a half ago, the CW series The 100killed off fan favorite Lexa (played by Alycia Debnam-Carey). It was a move that sparked outrage among many viewers because Lexa was just the most recent in a long line of queer (queer is being used as an inclusive, umbrella term) women killed on TV (The list is 130+ characters long and still growing). It appears that for many queer fans, Lexa was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Between her death being a trope that queer fans are all too familiar with and the disastrous handling of fans before and after by showrunner, Jason Rothenberg, queer fans started a cross-fandom movement that is long overdue. Fans took to social media to trend “LGBT Fans Deserve Better” during last week’s episode of The 100 to send a message to everyone that queer people are tired of poor representation. We’re tired of harmful tropes and not being allowed to hope for a happy ending. “LGBT Fans Deserve Better” did indeed trend (while The 100 did not). During that time, people were encouraged to donate to The Trevor Project, an organization that provides suicide prevention resources and crisis intervention to LGBTQ youth. So far, over $40,000 has been donated.
Rothenberg has stayed pretty silent about the backlash. Not only has he not acknowledged any article that critiqued his decision to use the “Bury Your Gays” trope but he has spent zero time acknowledging the damage his decisions made. Thankfully though some writers and actors have been answering questions and concerns from fans since the episode aired, including the man who wrote the episode in question, Javier Grillo-Marxuach. Grillo-Marxuach has been very open with fans and is at least giving the impression that he’s listening and actually understands that they did something wrong and it was poorly handled.
Many queer fans are paying close attention to Grillo-Marxuach because he has signed on as a writer and executive producer of NBC’s new Xena reboot. Fans of the original series have been asking him questions about the reboot that range from questions about setting to people asking if we can trust him to do these characters justice. His answers and how he handles the reboot could show that a shift is happening, that the movement is working. Grillo-Marxuach has already taken a step in the right direction by confirming that Xena and Gabrielle shippers will not have to rely on subtext and that Xena and Gabrielle will have a canon romantic relationship (Although lesbihonest, they were totally a couple).
“i am a very different person with a very different world view than my employer on the 100 – and my work on the 100 was to use my skills to bring that vision to life. xena will be a very different show made for very different reasons. there is no reason to bring back xena if it is not there for the purpose of fully exploring a relationship that could only be shown subtextually in first-run syndication in the 1990s. it will also express my view of the world – which is only further informed by what is happening right now – and is not too difficult to know what that is if you do some digging.”
Every time news of the reboot comes out, I get a little more nervous. I love Xena, I’ve been a Xena fan for most of my life. As far as I’m concerned, Lucy Lawless is the Warrior Princess and Renee O’Conner is the Battling Bard of Potidea, but I’m willing to give the reboot a chance.
Especially if Grillo-Marxuach is not just playing a PR game and legitimately wants to give us something that was lacking in the 90’s. As long as he respects and listens to queer fans, I really believe that he can represent a change in television. I will react to the news that Xena and Gabrielle will be the couple we deserved in the 90’s with glee. It’s just too bad that Lawless and O’Conner will not be reprising their roles.