Wynonna Earp Roundtable: Let’s Talk About Representation

Credit: Wynonna Earp Twitter

Hey Earpers! Lara and I wanted to take some time during the hiatus to have a discussion about representation in Wynonna Earp, specifically when it comes to people of color. As queer women, we are aware of the dangers of talking over a minority group instead of elevating the voices of that group and felt it was inappropriate for us to discuss POC rep, because we aren’t people of color. We decided to put together a roundtable discussion with some Earpers of Color who love the show as much as we do.

1.  Introduce yourself and tell us how you got into Wynonna Earp

Emmy: whispers Catherine Meushaw made me do it. Also, hello I’m the Editor-in-chief of 4 Your Excitement. I mainly get sucked into shows based on recommendations and was persuaded to give this one a try.

Meags: My name is Meags and I saw talk about it on my timeline decided to watch it all in one day and got hooked.

Maya: Hi, I’m Maya. I watch a lot of shows, especially if they have a leading lady and/or if they are sci-fi. I’ve been a fan of Emily and was a Lost Girl fan so when I heard she was doing another show with a female lead I jumped on board.

Shanti: I was a fan of Lost Girl and have been following Emily Andras since 2013. I had no idea about Wynonna Earp as I was in boot camp for the first few months of 2016 until people were live tweeting it the night it premiered. I tweeted “Well, I guess I need to check out Wynonna Earp” and that’s when Kevin from Tales of the Black Badge podcast tweeted me back was like “Yeah, you should check it out!”

Reign: Hi! I’m Reign, Editor and Co-founder of Latinx Geeks. I watch a lot of shows on SyFy (I know, I’m a glutton for punishment), and I saw a lot of commercials for it. I didn’t watch it right away because I had so many others on my list, but I knew eventually I would get around to it. Once I saw all the positive chatter on twitter, I bumped it higher on my list and started watching. I’ve been a fan ever since. Guess I should throw in there that I was also a fan of Lost Girl, but didn’t realize right away that they were from the same show runner. Shame on me, I know.

Alexis: Hi! My name is Alexis and I’m the Founder and Co-creator of Latinx Geeks. I got into Wynonna Earp because of Twitter and Reign. I saw all the talk about Wayhaught and was curious, but had absolutely zero idea what the show was about. Eventually Reign told me she watched the show and I tend to trust her judgement of tv shows. I ended up binging the entire first season pretty quickly.

2. Who is your favorite Wynonna Earp character and why?

Emmy: I would have to say that it’s Doc (Tim Rozon) mainly because I’ve always loved Doc Holliday’s story even in other versions of his character. Wynonna is my second fave because she’s me if I were a gun-toting revenant slayer without filter.

Meags: I never really thought about it but if I had to say I guess Dolls (Shamier Anderson) because of the way he opened up over time in season one.

Maya: Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano). She became a hero even when she didn’t want to. She protected the town even when they hated her. She also makes mistakes and she isn’t afraid to be herself.

Shanti:  Nicole (Katherine Barrell). Especially after season 2 where I related to her the most. I think she’s incredibly brave and low key hilarious. It was really nice to see her come into her own with handling Tucker and standing up for what she believed in even when Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and Nedley (Greg Lawson) didn’t agree with her. Jeremy (Varun Saranga) is a very close second. I fell in love with him throughout the entirety of season 2.

Reign: In general, I would probably say I don’t have one. Is that weird? If I had to pick then probably Rosita (Tamara Duarte), because she’s a brilliant badass despite being a Revenant (and Waverly kissed her, so bonus!) After her, Wynonna, because at the end of the day she does what is best for the greater good, even if that is to her own personal peril. She is also extremely loyal.

Alexis: I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I do love Wynonna. She’s my favorite kind of reluctant hero that messes up left and right, but eventually does right by the town and her family. She’s also hilarious.

3. Do you feel personally represented by Wynonna Earp? Why or Why not?

Emmy: Not really but I didn’t go into this show thinking I was going to be represented in any way. It’s rare to see Latinas in sci-fi shows and when we are included, we tend to be the villains, which sucks.

Meags: No at least not entirely anyway. As a darkskin black woman I really don’t see myself in WE or any show, but that’s a matter for another time. I do feel a little bit represented by Dolls because he was introverted and he’s darkskin but he’s still a he.

Maya: As an Indian, I did see myself represented more in season 2 when I saw Jeremy join the cast. Indians aren’t usually in the main cast and if they are, they are type casted. I love Jeremy cause he’s a nerd and awkward. But he’s also a hero, he stood up to Bobo (Michael Eklund) even though he was afraid. In season 1, I felt a little represented cause Dolls was a PoC. But I would say it wasn’t until S2 when Jeremy joined the group that I felt more represented.

Shanti: To an extent, I do.  This may seem a little weird, but I feel represented the most through Jeremy. He’s a he and he’s Indian, but we’re both POC who are huge nerds and make nerdy references at everything whenever we have the opportunity to. Personality wise, yes, but as a black a dark skinned black woman, no.

Reign: Not really, but then again I wasn’t expecting to be represented. Watch enough sci-fi shows (and I watch a lot), or female led hero type shows (Buffy, Charmed, Lost Girl, etc) and you easily notice a trend. I’m an African American female. I already know I’m not going to see many people up there that represent me when watching shows like WE. I guess maybe I should throw Nicole’s fly through wife in there, but she was in and out.

Alexis: Not in the slightest. I see bits and pieces of myself in the characters, but not enough to feel represented. I mean I’m Latinx and the show might be Canadian, but it’s supposed to be about the Old West. That’s historically been Mexican territory, and even currently still has a large Mexican and Latinx population. To not have any Latinx people in the show. It’s kind of ridiculous to me.

4. What does Wynonna Earp get right about representation that other shows get wrong?

Emmy: I do appreciate that they have gone beyond having a token POC on the show but it still has ways to go as far as getting representation right, especially with showing what diversity truly is. Adding Jeremy and Rosita is a step in the right direction but it almost feels like they are going a checklist of representation, which I’m sure wasn’t their intention.

Meags: I think in adding Jeremy and Rosita (and Shay) showed that they understand what actual racial diversity is and looks like. Diversity isn’t just adding one black person to be a token. We are a multi-cultural and multi-faceted world and Jeremy and Rosita show that they get it that a bit on that level.

Maya: I second Meags’ answer. I would also add that we rarely see queer Indians, because it’s frowned upon in the Indian Community and illegal in India, so seeing Jeremy being openly gay is really great to see.

Reign: Maybe positive rep with Nicole and Waverly. The POC characters are actually frustrating to me for various reasons. I am not sure if I should go into it here just because it might get lengthy, lol

Alexis: I think they get lgbt representation and female representation right. They have different woman who are all great characters and flawed in different ways. Along with different orientations and being open to exploring that and the decisions that come with it. But when it comes to racial/ethnic representation I think they still have some ways to go. To me it’s not representation when you have one person of every race. Having Dolls be the main source of representation for POC’s isn’t it either.

Shanti: The LGBT rep. What I love about Nicole is that she wasn’t predatory to Waverly at all. Did she flirt with her during the first time that they met? Sure, but it was very harmless. It’s not like she cornered her in a secluded area and began to make out with her after a 5 minute conversation (ahem The L word ahem) Every major decision that initiated their relationship as a couple was made by Waverly. I feel like if Waverly wasn’t interested in her, Nicole would’ve been hurt from rejection, but she would’ve been okay with it and wouldn’t try to push her boundaries. I just feel like when there’s an arc where a person who identified as being straight enters a same sex relationship, we’re shown as being the primary aggressors as if we “turned” the other person. Like Alexis said, they still have some ways to go with POC rep, but I was pleased to see some progress since season 1 and I hope to keep seeing more progress in season 3.

Reign: Well, I was asked to get into it. So, here it goes, haha. To elaborate on what I said above, the reason I am frustrated by the POC representation on the show, is not just because there is a true lack of female POCs (although there is). It’s also because the male POC representation has not been all that positive. I’m mostly thinking about Dolls because his character transformation this past season was striking. He used to be a strong, confident, full-fledged part of the team. Wynonna’s attraction to him was palpable, and they had really good chemistry. This season he was mostly just a foil to the Doc/Wynonna relationship. However, the way he was presented never even made him a real He became a shadow of the man we knew from season one, and more of a background character. Yes, he was literally on screen, but barely. And when he was there, he was not the hardcore, rulebook following, pain in Wynonna’s ass (but in a good way), hero cop we knew from the first season. His change was so noticeable, that a friend of mine (not Alexis in this case, lol) whom I rarely ever spoke to about WE asked me if I thought something was off about Dolls this season. She said he seemed like a completely different character to her, and I had to agree. He appeared weaker, more hesitant, and at times even whiny. It felt like they made him this way to steer the audience toward rooting for the Doc/Wynonna relationship over the Dolls/Wynonna relationship, therefore making it even more heartbreaking when the Wynonna gave up her child who was ultimately Doc’s baby. But by doing this they ruined Dolls’ character, and made him so secondary that he was almost forgettable this season. So although I am sure this was not their intention, they took a black love interest and ruined him for the sake of his white counterpart. There are so many unintended complications with that that I won’t go into here, but at the very least it is problematic.
Jeremy is a case of what can go wrong when you are trying to do everything right; he’s gay, he’s Indian, he’s a nerd. It is obvious he is written to be the adorkable geek boy we are supposed to love. His archetype is splashed throughout geek culture (look at the guys from The Big Bang Theory). And while I do like him, I can see the issues with a stereotypical gay geek boy looking up to the hypermasculinity of the “traditional” alpha male stereotype (Doc and Dolls). Jeremy looking up to them as someone he aspires to be, makes it seem like they are what true men should be. He will always be “weaker” or less than when compared to his stronger, more aggressive male counterparts. This is a problem gay men have faced in all facets of media.

Alexis: Everything Reign said about Dolls is spot on. We had multiple conversations about Dolls and how different he seemed this season. I, personally, felt like there was no real purpose to him. Like they lost who he was as a character now that he was no longer a potential love interest for Wynonna. I think it would have been more interesting to have continued to focus on Dolls as a love interest while having the child be Doc’s instead of completely sidelining Dolls. With Jeremy there is a problem with making the one other poc male completely non-threatening to Doc and Dolls. He’s there and it’s great, but he’s also never going to be the leader or a potential love interest for any of the women on the show. This is something that happens repeatedly with men of color in tv shows and in movies. Especially when it comes to the potential love interest being a white woman. They’re rarely allowed to be the romantic leads and while it isn’t necessary because we did have Dolls filling that role, now we have none. So, while having Jeremy be this awesome geeky gay guy is great for representation he’s also the ultimate sidekick. He’ll have his small heroic moments, but I don’t really see him getting that meaningful arc.

Maya: After reading Reign & Alexis’ answers, I do agree with them on Dolls. I really liked Dolls in season 1. However I wish we would have seen more of Dolls in season 2. I agree that we lost who he was in season 1. Just because he isn’t the father doesn’t mean he has to be pushed to the back. I’m hoping with season 3 we see more of Jeremy.

5. What do you think Wynonna Earp could do to improve representation?

Meags: Diversity doesn’t just mean on the screen. Writers and directors also can add to different level of storytelling.

Maya: I also agree with Meags on this. I would like to see an Asian woman added to the cast. I know we have an Indian, Jeremy, however it would be nice to see an Asian woman. I will note that it is great that Andras uses women writers and directors which is so important especially with a show that’s about strong women.

Reign: I agree with the folks above. They truly need to step it up in the diversity department behind the camera, and in the writer’s room, but also on screen honestly. And I don’t mean by having a POC character around for just an episode or two.

Alexis: Everything everyone has said is spot on. Recently at NYCC, Andras spoke about having women behind the screen and that’s great, but we need woman who are black, Latinx, Asian involved too. That also has to be seen on screen with characters that have meaningful arcs instead of just popping in and out when convenient.

Shanti: I think everyone has touched on the POC representation. At Dragon Con, during one of the panels, I think Emily said that she had a comic that was about a plus size female superhero? I think it would be cool to see a plus size, kick ass female character or even disabled. Killjoys had an actor, Prince Amponsah, who was severely burned and lost his arms in an apartment fire. I thought that was amazing to see that kind of representation because there’s not nearly enough of it.

Meags: Also only adding able bodied physically fit actors around the same age is another problem. What about plus size people or disabled folk, hell I’ll settle for someone with glasses, or trans folk? A lot of things have happened to this town and its people and no one has ended up seriously injured beyond repair? That I don’t believe. Nedley adds great character to the show and to be honest, they don’t use him enough to call him representation for older people. Wynonna has mental health issues maybe they should start talking about them again because that is also important to see on tv. I would love to see an episode or multiple where she goes to therapy or counseling after losing the baby.

Emmy: Everyone pretty much nailed it.

6. What tropes, if any, has Wynonna Earp used?

Meags: if I knew all the tropes off the top of my head I could probably go more in depth with this question. That being said maybe they could not almost kill Nicole every three episodes and label Waverly’s sexuality so people won’t argue on the Internet if she’s bisexual or not.

Maya: Yeah, killing Nicole off multiple times is a bit much.

Shanti: I agree 100% about Nicole. Her getting hurt or physically in danger so much reminds me a lot of what Chicago Fire did to Lauren German’s character Leslie Shay. If you watched that show, you saw how that ended. The only difference in WE is that I don’t believe for a second they would dispose of her in that way at all.

Reign: Totally agree with everyone above. Also the bubbly good girl with the jerk dude bro idiot boyfriend (Waverly when we first met her). Is that a trope? Is that a thing? If not it should be. One of the reasons I like Imagine Me & You so much is because Heck is a good guy, and Rachel leaves him anyway. Not because he is a jerk, but simply because she fell in love with someone else. It’s just too easy to place a woman in a same-sex relationship when their previous hetero relationships have been so bad. They are gay because they are gay or bi because they are bi.  They are not with another woman because they have had bad experiences in their other relationships. Sorry, was that answer too long? :/

Alexis: I’m terrible at remembering tropes, but yeah can they stop trying to kill Nicole. I mean I get that they probably won’t and possibly can’t. But still they should at least lay off a little.

Emmy: Making the Latina “evil”. It would have been nice not to see that twist with Rosita only because it’s so overdone.

7. Any parting thoughts? Or is there anything you’d like to discuss that hasn’t already been covered?

Maya: I’d like to get the backstories of Dolls and Jeremy since we know Black Badge recruited them. Maybe do a flashback episode or at least flashback scenes. This is probably asking too much but it would be nice to get the backstories. I would also like to see more of Nicole interacting with Doc or Dolls. I’m guessing with how S2 ended, we’ll see more of Dolls and Nicole but hopefully we see more of Doc and Nicole interacting since we haven’t seen much of that.

Shanti: I definitely want to see more about Jeremy. We got a glimpse of his background towards the end of season 2 where he talks about being involved in a pretty bad car accident when he was younger. It’d be interesting to see how he became who he is and who he was before he was recruited to black badge. Especially considering that he’s of Indian descent in this crazy supernatural world. Also, does Dolls have family?

Reign: I really enjoy Wynonna Earp and the Earper fandom. I am super curious as to what is going to happen next season, and can’t wait to see what happens with Mama Earp. I would love more info on everyone’s background, especially Nicole, Dolls, and Jeremy.

Alexis: I’d like to see a better Dolls storyline next season. I feel like he really go the short end of the stick this season. I barely know who his character is now. So I’d like better for Dolls and some Wynonna backstory when she was a teenager.

Meags: I agree with everyone above, and I would definitely love more backstories on our core characters before adding new characters. Also maybe just stop adding poc characters to be villains for like a six second spot just to disappear without a trace. The moments when we got Dolls’ backstory I loved it. That episode where they were stuck together and Dolls got to meet his idol was probably my favorite moment of the season.

Emmy:  I’m a sucker for a good backstory so I agree with everyone above and would love to see how our faves were in the past and before they came to Purgatory.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the roundtable!

Emmy: @EmmyUnwritten
Meags: @NayaCutYoNails
Maya: @mayapapaya319
Shanti: @Rashantitty
Reign: @Reignbowbrite
Alexis: @LatinxGeeks

 

Advertisements

One comment

  1. This was a great read. Thank you all so much. I’d like to jump in here and talk about Dolls and Jeremy. I agree with the majority of you about Doll’s in S2. It was so off at the beginning that I thought that maybe Shamier was leaving the show. It just felt like something was missing or off. I can’t pinpoint it. Dolls was a shadow of himself. I did like to see his smile but he almost became less of a character (what was his arc) and love interest. Kind of. The scene after the church fire when they are in bed bumped him back up because Wynonna loves and trusts him and their intimacy is real. Also, seeing him as part reptile dragon? made me feel a bit something because he’s the 1st male poc on the show and he’s like animalistic not human with a temper that is hard to keep in check without drugs. I’m going to leave that here because I don’t have the words to be more coherent about it.

    On to Jeremy. Varun is brilliant and a welcome addition to the cast/show. I was hoping that Jeremy was bad (like a double agent) only because the way he came into the group and how Black Badge operation place was deserted. But he’s adorable and awesome and I really dig his character.

    Though the female representation is stellar and the wlw aspect is “thumbs way up”, like Meags, I wish they’d just state that Waverly is bisexual and have it be respected by her gf and friends. I know they love her for who she is. Basically I’m saying her saying she’s bisexual won’t change how her framily feels about her but could do good for the “B” in our community. I am the “B” and the “T” and I honestly am more frustrated as the years go, how we’re tacked on letters. Like let’s be honest about it. Even as someone making queer content, I feel we have to say LGBT because if we don’t, we’d have a near impossible time finding our audience. I know that statement sounds a bit contradictory but I hope those reading know what I mean.

    Back to Jeremy and gay male sexuality. Watching media as a queer dude, I see/experience gay guys being used for comedic purposes. Looking at TV mainly. The gay guy being the comedic role sort of feels like gay sexuality is mainly treated as a joke. Like, a gay guy can be a supporting character, as long as he brings the laugh. This is not a bad thing. I love to laugh. Laughter feels good. I just don’t want mlm to be a joke. I’m thinking Jeremy will be the only character on this show to not be in a romantic/sexual relationship. Sort of like, he’s neutered. But I know things can change in future.

    Last is not Wynonna Earp related specifically but still in the realm of the discussion. Reign spoke about “Imagine Me and You” and it’s a movie I really love. I’ve seen it so many times. Watching it with my gay guy friend nearly ruined the film for me though. He was really upset about Heck. He loves Heck. He said if Luce was Luke and Rachel fell in love at first sight it wouldn’t be perceived as a feel good romantic/comedy. I’d say if Luce was Luke and Heck fell in love at first sight that would also most likely be true. The movie works(?) for a lot of us because it’s Luce and Rachel. But I always wonder does it say something about the way wlw relationships are perceived by the larger society. Like they aren’t taken as seriously so it’s less upsetting. I don’t know. Just something I think about from time to time.

Leave a Reply