go to content
Community

Here's How 'The 100' Sparked An LGBTQ Revolution

Heda is the new Mockingjay.

Posted on
Via alyciadebnamcarey.com

On March 3, CW's The 100 saw the death of Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), the strong-willed, level-headed, badass Commander of the 12 Clans… who just happened to be a lady who loves ladies. Instead of giving her an honorable exit fit for a feared and respected Commander, Lexa was shot by a stray bullet meant for her lover Clarke (Eliza Taylor), mere minutes after the two consummated their relationship. Seriously. After what is arguably one of the tenderest make-out sessions/post-coital cuddling in the history of television, the next scene found Lexa struggling to breathe with a bullet in her abs as Clarke desperately tries and fails to patch her up.

Via when-clexa-kiss.tumblr.com
Via Twitter: @Anthocles

The reaction to her untimely death was swift and passionate. Not only were fans furious by the death of yet another queer character on TV, but the events surrounding her death fell right into the 'Bury Your Gays' trope. Outraged fans took to Twitter immediately and kept Lexa trending for three days straight. The showrunner, Jason Rothenberg, lost more than 10,000 followers within 24 hours, and his following has been on a steady decline since. A week after the controversial episode was broadcasted, fans banded together to boycott the show and trend #LGBTFansDeserveBetter on Twitter during The 100's regularly scheduled airtime. It worked, as the March 10th episode debuted the series' worst ever ratings.

Via classy.org

The fans have been vocal on sites like Twitter and Tumblr, but they've also created informational websites like wedeservedbetter.com and lgbtfansdeservebetter.com, explaining their wrath and disappointment. Their resentment have been so well coordinated and organized that it has caught the attention of news sites around the world, such as BBC, Variety, and Huffington Post. The fans even spearheaded a campaign to raise $50,000 for the Trevor Project, a charity that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youths. They raised more than $30,000 in just a few hours and are up to $45,620 now. In just two weeks, the uprising against the show (and the media in general) for their treatment of LGBTQ characters has started a mini revolution of sorts.

Characters get killed off shows all the time, especially queer characters. So why did this one matter so much?

Via tumblr.com

For starters, The 100 is a show that prided itself on its "groundbreaking" equal treatment of queer characters and "revolutionary" subversion of tropes. When Lexa was first introduced in season two, fans were immediately drawn to her strong character and picked up on the undeniable chemistry between her and Clarke, the female protagonist of the show. Many assumed this relationship would be kept in the subtext-zone, as neither characters' sexualities had been labeled, and Clarke had only been romantically linked to guys up until that point. However, that all changed in the episode 'Remember Me', when Lexa subtly referenced a lost love, Costia, who was a woman. From that point on, the Clexa ship took off full steam ahead. In 'Bodyguard of Lies', Clexa officially went canon when Lexa initiated a kiss with Clarke, who wholeheartedly reciprocated before stating that she wasn't ready to be with anyone… yet.

Via wedeservedbetter.com

But it didn’t matter. The important takeaway was that their sexualities and their relationship were a non-issue. There was no fanfare surrounding the revelations or “coming out” story for either character. Clarke didn’t bat an eye when Lexa told her about Costia and she wasn’t scandalized by the fact that Lexa, a woman, kissed her. In fact, she eagerly embraced and lost herself in their connection for a moment, making her the first queer main character on the CW. And everyone ate it up. The creators of The 100 were lauded by the press for the way they handled these subjects with such nonchalance. In his interviews, Rothenberg stated that in the world of The 100, “it’s not about what your sexual orientation is, or what your gender is, if you’re disabled or not – it’s just are you strong or not. Are you going to help me survive today or not?” With such refreshing and respectful views toward queer characters, The 100 quickly developed a large fandom in the LGBTQ community and they capitalized on it, which is another reason why their mishandling of Lexa’s death is receiving so much backlash today.

Via Twitter: @iwashington

The 100 is a cult show that realized it could grow a large and loyal following through regular, meaningful engagement with its fans on social media. When they realized what a passionate LGBTQ fanbase they had on their hands, they quickly took advantage of it. The people involved with the show – writers, actors, producers, etc. – often took to social media to engage with and appeal to their LGBTQ fans. They teased juicy Clexa scenes and heavily featured Lexa in the promotional materials leading up to season three, despite the fact that she was merely a guest star. When word got out that Debnam-Carey landed a lead role on AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead, wary fans were worried that Lexa would be killed off, but the writers assuaged those fears and gave them hope for a happy ending. Rothenberg even invited the fans to visit the show’s set in downtown Vancouver when they were shooting the season three finale and Debnam-Carey’s presence that day reassured many that Lexa was safe.

Via the100.wikia.com

The creators' unwavering optimism when it came to the fate of Lexa encouraged fans to trust in the writers and have faith that they wouldn't be irresponsible and fall back on the demoralizing tropes typically associated with queer characters. But the writers did just that, killing Lexa immediately after we saw her at her happiest, blindsiding and betraying the fans. The fallout was sharp, as fans felt misled, queer-baited, and used solely for rating purposes. Rothenberg learned the lesson of 'don't bite the hand that feeds you' the hard way, as the once devoted, enthusiastic fanbase that helped the show reach their level of popularity quickly turned on him, spearheading campaigns to fire him and cancel the show. It also didn't help matters that Rothenberg, who tended to be very vocal and active on social media, was unusually quiet when it came to addressing the negative backlash. He livetweeted during the episode and mentioned how heartbreaking it was to see Lexa go, but when the betrayed fans angrily took to his Twitter feed to demand explanations, he simply retweeted articles praising his decision. He gave a few interviews regarding the decision to kill off Lexa, but he didn't seem fully aware of the consequences of his actions. In an interview with TV Insider, he partially blamed her death on the fact that he only had a limited amount of time to work with Debnam-Carey because of her obligations with Fear The Walking Dead, but also mentioned that he "[doesn't] even want to talk about the trope that's out there about LGBT characters; that is not something that factored into the decision," revealing that he was aware of the trope, but still decided to use it anyways.

So what does this all mean? Is it wrong for creators to "troll" and mislead their fans in order to keep up ratings? Should writers pander and cater to the fans' desires? Should Hollywood just stay off of social media since it only seems to land them in hot water?

Via Twitter: @hhoagie

The fact is that the advancements of social media are so new that we’re all in uncharted territory here. When used properly, it can be the greatest advantage but when it backfires, the negative impact could be disastrous. The 100 is a show aimed at a younger demographic so naturally, there’s a bit more of a social responsibility that falls upon the show whether they want it or not. As Spiderman learned, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Not only do the creatives at The 100 have to keep in mind that they’re writing the show for impressionable young adults, but when they decided to include queer characters on the show, the vulnerability of their audiences multiplied. Statistics have shown that people in the LGBTQ community are more likely to commit suicide and are at a higher risk for assault. The Cultivation Theory suggests that our perceptions of the world are shaped by the portrayal of reality of television. Following Lexa’s death, Autostraddle compiled a list of 142 dead lesbian and bisexual characters on TV. Queer characters are grossly underrepresented on TV already, but when the majority of them are killed off (often after taking a pivotal step in a relationship), it sends the message that happy endings are nearly impossible for LGBTQ people.

Via tumblr.com

Rothenberg has and continues to stress that Lexa’s sexuality doesn’t affect the way they tell her story and some critics have pointed out that Finn (Thomas McDonell), Clarke’s male love interest in season one and two, was also killed off, so the show is actually giving fair and equal treatment to their queer and straight characters. The problem with that is that when Finn was killed off, fans could easily turn the channel to just about any other show and find some other version of him. When Lexa died, audiences had no other shows or characters to turn to to get their fix. Putting on hold the fact that Lexa was queer for a second, she was also a tough cookie, talented fighter, and brilliant leader who was able to command twelve clans without anybody using the fact that she was a woman to undermine her control. They took issues with some of her ideas, but nobody ever rebelled against her solely because of her gender. Simply put, there is no character like Lexa on television right now.

Via foreveryoungadult.com

It’s admirable to want to treat all your characters equally, regardless of their gender or sexuality, but if you’re tackling social issues, you have to be aware of the inequality happening in the real world and how your fantasy world might play into that. Yes, killing both Finn and Lexa shows that there weren’t any preferential treatment, but when you take into account that there’s hundreds of Finns but only one Lexa out there, it’s easy to see how disproportionate the “equal” treatment really is. As Kylie, the Associate Editor for Fandom Following, wrote in “An Open Letter to Jason Rothenberg of The 100,” “Media matters. And unfortunately for you, nothing can be created in a cultural vacuum, no matter how much you might like to think that you’re above the influence.”

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss