SciFi Weekend: Controversy Over Death Of Lesbian Character On The 100; Orphan Black; Daredevil; 12 Monkeys; The Americans; Put A Bird On It

The 100 Clarke Lexa Kiss

Jason Rothenberg’s decision to kill a prominent LGBT character on The 100, and the manner in which she died, has made many fans of the show upset. At the time I first watched and reviewed the show, while I expected some disappointment and protest, I had no idea how serious a matter this would be to the LGBT community. Reviewing the discussion from those who did take it very personally, along with the views of television critics such as Maureen Ryan who is quoted below, help to understand the importance of this issue. After missing the significance of this in my original review, I hope to make up for it by providing this overview today.

I will start by allowing Rothenberg to explain his viewpoint. He was interviewed by TV Insider. Here are the first few questions, with much more in the full interview:

OK, so you had to be aware of the uproar that would come from killing Lexa, right? This was something that you guys had to realize you’d be walking into.
Yes and no. First of all, I think I should start by saying that for the last two weeks, I’ve pretty much thought about nothing else except for this. It’s taken me some time to process everything, and I’ve been listening, reading everything I could. I took my voice out of it on Twitter because I didn’t want to inflame the situation, and I felt like I didn’t want to shape the conversation. I just wanted to listen and try to understand. I mean, we were a little surprised by it—obviously not that people were upset; you’re right in the sense that we kind of knew that that would happen. The story that we’re telling is a tragedy. Lexa was a meaningful character to our fans, especially LGBTQ fans, and so I knew it would be emotional, of course. What was unexpected was the level of outrage that it’s generated from some people, but I do think I have come to understand that.

We’ve seen this with shows with strong social media bases: The louder the outrage, the more disturbing it can get.
Yeah. Lexa’s death triggered real emotional trauma for some people, you know? It tapped into the real world, it tapped into their lives, and as a straight white male, I obviously didn’t anticipate how deeply it would affect certain people. I look at it now and I realize that if somebody had that kind of a reaction and then were to look back at the way I behaved on Twitter leading up to it, which was celebrating this relationship that then crushed them, I can understand why they would find that reprehensible. I hope that people understand that.

Since there is no winning on Twitter, what do you want to say to the fans now?
I would say, first of all, that it’s taken me a while to get perspective on it myself and to put myself in the position of somebody who was hurt like that. And I hope that eventually they can start to put themselves in our position and understand that we would never want to hurt anybody like that. We would never want to hurt our fans. We love them, we owe them everything, we owe them the fact that we just got a Season 4 to them. We want to take them for a ride, we don’t want to hurt them. And because we didn’t anticipate this sort of level of pain over this fictional death, we were doing what we always do on Twitter, which was celebrating work that we’re proud of. In hindsight, knowing what I know now and sort of realizing the things that I’ve realized, we should have done less of that. We should have done less buildup knowing where this was going to end up and knowing how this was going to affect people.

But it wouldn’t have changed the story you’re telling.
No, absolutely not. We would have told the same story. I stand behind the story; I just don’t think I would have gone out of my way to say ‘This is the best episode we’ve ever done!’ Nobody really anticipated that this would happen so now that we’ve seen it, the idea for me as the showrunner going forward is to learn lessons from it, you know? This is a show where characters die. That’s another reason we were so surprised..it’s a post-apocalyptic world set 100 years later in which anyone can die.

The 100 Lexa Clark

Rothenberg also posted a statement on line a few days ago. Here are some excerpts, but those interested in the controversy should read his full statement:

For many fans of The 100, the relationship between Clarke and Lexa was a positive step of inclusion. I take enormous pride in that, as I do in the fact that our show is heading into its 4th season with a bisexual lead and a very diverse cast. The honesty, integrity and vulnerability Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey brought to their characters served as an inspiration for many of our fans. Their relationship held greater importance than even I realized. And that very important representation was taken away by one stray bullet…

In the show-world, no one is safe, and anyone, even a beloved character, can die, at any time. My favorite shows in this genre embrace a similar sense of heightened urgency. There are several reasons why this particular episode played out the way it did: practical (an actress was leaving the show), creative (it’s a story about reincarnation) and thematic (it’s a show about survival). Despite my reasons, I still write and produce television for the real world where negative and hurtful tropes exist. And I am very sorry for not recognizing this as fully as I should have. Knowing everything I know now, Lexa’s death would have played out differently.

The 100 is a post-apocalyptic tragedy set 130 years in the future. It’s a constant life and death struggle. In our show, all relationships start with one question: ‘Can you help me survive today?’ It doesn’t matter what color you are, what gender identity you are, or whether you’re gay, bi or straight. The things that divide us as global citizens today don’t matter in this show. And that’s the beauty of science-fiction. We can make a point without preaching. We can say that race, sexuality, gender and disability should not divide us. We can elevate our thinking and take you on a helluva ride at the same time.

But I’ve been powerfully reminded that the audience takes that ride in the real world — where LGBTQ teens face repeated discrimination, often suffer from depression and commit suicide at a rate far higher than their straight peers. Where people still face discrimination because of the color of their skin. Where, in too many places, women are not given the same opportunities as men, especially LGBTQ women who face even tougher odds. And where television characters are still not fully representative of the diverse lives of our audience. Not even close.

The 100 Clarke Lexa Thirteen

Maureen Ryan wrote about What TV Can Learn From The ‘100 Mess’ at Variety and helps explain why many fans are upset. Again, these are just excerpts and the full article is worth reading.

The response of the showrunner has, outside of a few unenlightening interviews, has been disappointing. Rothenberg live-tweeted the March 10 episode of the show as if thinkpieces and damning critiques were not still being churned out. In the limited array of interviews he did in conjunction with the March 3 episode, he has given little indication that he understands the depth of the sense of betrayal or the multitude of reasonable objections to the death story line. Since March 3, it has fallen to co-executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who wrote the episode, to engage with fans in any significant and meaningful way, but his compassionate and committed response has only highlighted Rothenberg’s abdication of responsibility...

So here’s the nitty-gritty: The character who died, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), happened to be one of the few well-developed and complex lesbians on TV, and it’s an unfortunate but enduring TV cliche that lesbians rarely, if ever, live happily ever after. In the March 3 episode, “The 100,” which had touted its commitment to quality LGBTQ storytelling, invoked one of TV’s oldest gay cliches by killing her off mere seconds after she consummated her relationship with another woman, Clarke (Eliza Taylor).

Many fans, regardless of sexual orientation, were left shaking their heads in disbelief.

On a story and thematic level, Lexa’s death (despite being well-performed by the actors) had little resonance and almost no meaning. But all things considered, the blithe manipulation LGBTQ fans and the show’s willingness to deploy harmful cliches about gay characters remain the things that rankle most…

Adding to the sense of betrayal was the manner of Lexa’s death. She was felled by a stray bullet from an angry male servant, mere seconds after she and Clarke had sex for the first time. The servant, Titus, disapproved of Lexa’s relationship with Clarke, whom he tried to kill, but Lexa caught the bullet. This woman — the most fearsome warrior in the show’s history — didn’t die defending Clarke; she just happened to be in the bullet’s path. And by following her only moment of bliss with her lover, the Grounder queen’s death followed a time-worn and disturbing TV pattern.

Autostraddle came up with a list of more than 130 lesbian and bisexual women who have been killed off on TV shows, and it’s a damning roster. Whatever progress you think TV has made on the front of LGBTQ representation, the sheer number of dead women on the list is profoundly troubling, to say the least. If nothing else, it shows that the Bury Your Gays trope is alive and well on TV, and fictional lesbian and bisexual women in particular have a very small chance of leading long and productive lives.

Critic Nicola Choi wrote that when they spot a lesbian or bisexual woman on TV, many LGBTQ fans simply resign themselves to the fact that the character will die.

The 100 Thirteen Lexa

Dany Roth tried to explain the matter to a conservative-leaning readership at blastr:

If you’re not part of the queer community, an ally of said same, or if you were never a fan of The 100, why should you care? If we’re boiling this down to the most selfish of reasons, it is because next time it might be you. And maybe it already has been you. Forget social justice for a second (as I know many of you often try to, anyway) — think about this as simply acting in the interest of fairness…

The reason Lexa’s death was so upsetting isn’t just because her face was a recognizable one for so many queer people, it’s also because she made the LGBT community feel more visible, more relatable. And it made them feel like they were being listened to. Every time someone tweets about why Lexa matters, each time someone challenges the “Bury Your Gays” trope and demands that writers and showrunners do better, someone who hasn’t thought about any of this hears why representation in stories matters for the first time. Even in death, Lexa is making LGBT people more visible.

Orphan Black Train

There is often much to think about and discuss after an episode of Orphan Black. This was especially true in the early episodes, when we had very little understanding of what was going on. Entertainment Weekly has good news on both of these points. BBC America will be starting a show, After the Black, to discuss each episode. Plus it sounds like next season might recreate some of the mystery of the first season, including going back to when Sarah first saw Beth jump in front of the train.

Taking a tip from AMC, BBC America has announced After the Black, a companion show that will air weekly following Orphan Black.

Hosted by Innerspace’s Ajay Fry, Morgan Hoffman, and Teddy Wilson, After the Black is a 30-minute after show that will feature various cast, crew, and special guest stars chatting about the plot, twists, and theories on future episodes. Other segments will include behind-the-scene footage from the set and an exclusive first look at the following episode.

The format is very similar to AMC’s Talking Dead, which airs weekly following The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.

The first post-game, which will air Thursday, April 14 at 11 p.m. ET following the season 4 premiere of Orphan Black, will include stars Tatiana Maslany and Kevin Hanchard.

As for the fourth season, executive producers John Fawcett and Graeme Manson revealed at WonderCon on Saturday that they’ll be going back to basics in a lot of ways by delving into a particular mystery from the pilot. “We really wanted to look at the first season this year,” Manson said. “We wanted to go back to that moment on the tracks with Beth and Sarah and go, ‘What did Sarah miss?’ There’s more story there.”

“We wanted to get that feel back, that feel of season 1 where you don’t know who the bad guy is, you don’t know who you’re speaking to,” Fawcett added. “That was the goal of season 4.”

Above is a trailer for season 4 of Orphan Black. There will also be new characters introduced:

Also this season, viewers are introduced to brand new characters that prove to be pivotal to the clones’ saga. Season 4 introduces Joel Thomas Hynes (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE) in the role of “Dizzy”, an edgy, self-reliant hacker who doesn’t conform to group mentality; Jessalyn Wanlim (Alex Cross) as Evie Cho, a powerful, seductively articulate bioengineer who believes great discoveries require casualties; Lauren Hammersley (MR. D) as Adele, a shameless, brazen, and wickedly intelligent lawyer who outwits opponents even when heavily intoxicated; and Gord Rand (Maps To The Stars) as Detective Duko, who on the surface appears to be unassuming and slightly nebbish, but has used his underlying angst to nastily claw his way to the top.

I will hold off on saying much about season 2 of Daredevil different  people are at different points with the Netflix model. Entertainment Weekly has the above interview with Charlie Cox which helps set up the season after the arrest of Wilson Fisk at the end of the first season:

“What we’ve done this year with the show is we don’t really have so much a Big Bad, but we have characters that enter Matt’s life,” Cox tells EW in a recent interview, viewable above. “They force him to look at himself and look at his actions in a way that no one else has done in the past.”

Those characters are, naturally, The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra (Elodie Yung). The first, as trailers have hinted, comes to Hell’s Kitchen with almost a similar purpose as Daredevil but with a much different modus operandi. And his methodology involves a lot more killing, which puts the entire city on edge shortly after coming to appreciate Daredevil’s work.

“It’s through Daredevil’s actions that someone like Frank Castle has been able to show up and do what he does,” Cox explains.

Yet putting a stop to The Punisher’s bloodlust isn’t the only obstacle thrown at Matt this season. Elektra, the “Greek girl” from college that Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) mentioned last season returns to New York. As portrayed by Yung, Elektra complicates Matt’s life both while he’s in and out of his crime-fighting costume, particularly when it comes to his burgeoning romance with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll).

“… Matt is completely authentic with both characters, but that authenticity is different with each character,” Cox said, calling this love triangle “one of the most enjoyable things for me to do as an actor this season.”

12 Monkeys returns on April 18. If we didn’t have the “problem” of so much good television, including genre television, now available thanks to cable and streaming, it might be tempting to rewatch the first season to review all the twists which occurred. While some hardcore fans are doing so, many of us just do not have the time. Syfy has posted the above seven minute recap to help the rest of us to catch up. It is certainly not enough for new viewers to start watching the show, but it is helpful for those of us who watched the first season.

americans-season-4

The Americans, which very well might be the best ongoing drama now on television (separating it from shows such as Fargo which have a different story each year) is off to an excellent start for its fourth season. There is so much which can be said about the quality of the story, but I figure those who are watching understand this and those who are not will not be interested in a play by play.

Besides all the big things, the show gets the little things better than most television shows. While many shows do a terrible job of working in children and home life (such as with Brody’s daughter on previous seasons of Homeland), Paige’s teenage angst, exacerbated by learning that her parents are Russian spies, has been a huge plus in driving the plot this season. Television story lines are often driven by misunderstandings, such as Stan thinking that Philip was sleeping with his wife. While that is a standard television trope, I really appreciated it when Phillip immediately explained the situation to Elizabeth and told her about going to the EST meetings, as opposed to dragging this out and creating further misunderstandings with her–as so many television shows would have done.

Plus so many interesting characters have been developed beyond the main characters. When The Americans inevitably ends, I’m looking forward to one spinoff based upon Nina Krilova in Russia, and another (or perhaps work in into a single show) in which Stan Beeman and Oleg Burov find some reason to team up after the Cold War ends. If Napoleon Solo can team up with Russian Illya Kuryakin on The Man From UNCLE, why not Stan and Oleg?

With all the talk the last few days about the bird at the Bernie Sanders rally in Oregon, prior to his big three-state sweep yesterday, above is a clip from the episode of Portlandia which started the slogan, “Put A Bird On It.”

To conclude by tying this in with the previous story on Daredevil, above is Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Jessica Jones) speaking in support of Bernie Sanders.

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