It might not seem like the death of any character is more monumental than any other. In fact, up until pretty recently, I thought that was the case, too. But after I noticed that all of my favorite queer characters were being killed off in the most dramatic way possible.
It’s always either AIDs, bullying/murder, or… You know… The arrow through the back of the head.
No spoilers here, but… That one actually caught me off-guard. I’m pretty sure I actually jumped because it was completely out of left field (literally and figuratively). I read up and found that it was essentially just a variation of the source material, and I was satisfied for a minute.
Which is probably what the producers were going for.
It seems like a minor difference to switch up a character who’s going to be killed off, but circumstantially, swapping a straight character’s death for a queer character’s death is adding yet another name to a long list of statistically doomed characters.
When we’re fighting as hard as we are for adequate representation, killing off the characters that embody everything we’re looking for in our queer characters: The strong, relatable ones that have more going for them than just sex and short skirts. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those characters, either, but statistically they’ll probably be killed off, too.)
Do we just feel like more gay characters die, because there aren’t as many of them?
That’s what I thought at first – after all, with only a handful of lesbians on the line-up until OITNB comes back, each one is automatically a larger portion – one out of five feels like more than five out of a hundred.
But Autostraddle did the math on this one, and it’s actually a little deeper than that.
According to them, there have been 147 lesbian and bisexual female characters who died on TV. And these are becoming more and more frequently as we have more queer female characters on television.
This is to be expected, especially when you factor in shows like The L Word where 99% of the cast plays queer female characters, or shows like American Horror Story and Scream Queens where every episode you’re basically betting on who’s going to die today.
But if those numbers still sound pretty high, they are.
According to a different list from Autostraddle, the number of queer female characters who ended up with happy endings: 29. Many of these were couples, which counts as “two characters” but only one happy ending – and, all in all, only 15 shows had happy endings for their lesbian and bisexual characters.
A quick flip through both lists is a bit devastating, honestly. We’re definitely not saying that queer characters need to be invincible – but they shouldn’t be killed off just for a plot twist. Let their deaths have meaning.
Let us mourn their deaths, instead of just getting angry with the writers!