LESBIAN LIVES MATTER

*SPOILER ALERT*

If you haven’t seen the fourth episode of the third season of “Last Tango in Halifax” yet, then don’t read this until after you have.

Last night’s “Last Tango in Halifax” brought back a feeling I hadn’t had in years. The elation of having same-sex marriage approved in two thirds of the country, of a new Pope who is calling for tolerance and acceptance, and of the myriad gay characters that almost every show on television has now, has made me forget how to prepare myself for what used to be commonplace: the killing of the queer character.

Homophobic writers used to do it in the name of restoring social order, or as punishment for a sinful lifestyle. Then they did it to teach a homophobic society a lesson, to show them how miserable gay lives are and make them feel bad about it.

We used to eat crumbs because we were starved and we grabbed anything they would give us with both hands, devouring it and writing mass amounts of fanfiction to keep ourselves warm and happy the rest of the year. A couple of intimate moments between two female characters would be enough to satisfy us for months on our shipping* websites.

But this is 2015, and that is no longer acceptable. And when a show gives its central character a lesbian epiphany, a struggling coming out story, and a beautiful relationship that leads to a wedding and a baby, you can’t just go ahead and kill half of this couple the day after the wedding and expect it to be a tolerable storyline.

I watched the episode last night with great resentment. Not only was it true, Kate was dead, but Sally Wainwright felt the need to start the episode making us think she was alive after all! Why taunt us further? That is just cruel! “OMG, she’s alive!” “Wait, no, she’s dead. She’s talking to her fucking ghost!”

After the episode, I found myself grieving. A television show creator’s biggest job is to make people fall in love with his or her characters. The show needs us to want to invite those people into our lives every week and enjoy spending time with them. Killing off favorite characters may work for “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones,” but it does not work here, and Wainwright showed that she understood that when she scared us with Alan’s heart attack but did not pursue it beyond the dramatic emotional effect it had on the characters.

Then I started feeling sorry for Wainwright. She had obviously by then started to realize what a terrible mistake she had made. She had started feeling the wrath of the angry lesbian. And I do still love the show and her writing. But Wainwright is an intelligent and experienced enough writer. She should have been able to put together that when you take on the responsibility of writing a story about a historically discriminated-against minority and in return receive the eternal loyalty of legions of lesbian fans, then you can’t go on and kill half of this beloved couple and expect that to be okay. And again, even from a storytelling standpoint that was a cheap cliché.

There is great division in the lesbian fan community right now. Some people are very angry from years of disappointments and have banned the show, much like they did with “The L Word,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Chicago Fire” and countless other shows that let us down. Some do not want to bite the hand that feeds us and are worried that the show might be canceled and Caroline might never get another chance at happiness.

Well, I don’t want the show canceled, but I do want this to be a teaching moment, for Wainwright and everyone who follows her. I want us to scream loud enough, I want them to hear, and I want to finally earn their respect. Lesbian lives matter. Queer lives matter. Stories on television matter. They give voice to those who are struggling to be heard, and they give a face and a familiarity to the Other.

Sally Wainwright fucked up, and it’s important she know it. Now I want to see her make up for it. She is the best writer we’ve seen in years. She can do it.

*Shipping is the act of taking two already-created characters, most frequently from television shows, and putting them together, usually in a romantic relationship, in fanfiction.

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25 thoughts on “LESBIAN LIVES MATTER

  1. Reblogged this on shallotpeelblog and commented:
    Brill! I would only add that in the case of Caroline & Kate Sally herself started the SHIP! We were just the ‘idjits as it turns out who responded to her remarkable dialogue & characterization which is at a disconnect from her plotting. Her own admitted weakness is story, gee, we know now, do we ever. I had put her on a pedestal. I won’t watch any more LTiH but I will watch the next Series of Happy Valley. She has a chance with me but it’s up to her entirely & I have no no no NO doubts that this is going to take writer’s gymnastics for her to pull off. Hard to imagine trusting her with LGBT again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was disappointed by the death of Kate and the end of the relationship with Caroline . The episode aside for seeing Kate return as an apparition was Sarah Lancashire doing what she does best; act. Her emotions raw at the loss of her partner, she was the pillar of strength and resolve. In this Sally didn’t disappoint. I am sure that killing Kate as a plot device was wrong for so many reasons, one being the audience investment in a marriage that was one day old. It is ever so much more respectable with one Mom, in this the character of Caroline has been diminished. LTIH has made an indelible impression. I am just sorry that I won’t get to see how Caroline and Kate would have matured as a couple who against all odds, found and loved each other until death did separate. Caroline’s journey is important, and so I will stay tuned, simply not invested.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” I am just sorry that I won’t get to see how Caroline and Kate would have matured as a couple who against all odds, found and loved each other until death did separate.”
      That just nails it for me. Thank you for clarifying my heart’s usually unmet desire.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I would like to think Kate is just in the next room ( heaven) playing the piano, waiting for Caroline. I am happy Caroline will not have a new love and will remain faithful to Kate until they can be together again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was devastated to read spoilers for LTiH. But choose to go with the thought that I hv been duped by them before so watched with hope that it was just a tease. Having been invested in
    Kate & Caroline from series 1, I was excited when it stated last month. Sally may be a great writer but having us love Kate’s character then killing her off after she finally wed her soul mate was cruel & unnecessary. If they had killed Useless John off I wld hv smiled. Sarah’s acting was totally on point and that was all I could say was good about last nights episode. If I wasn’t concerned about Caroline’s next step then I so would give the show a miss.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Like the rest of LTIH C & K fans I was totally shocked by the cliffhanger that ended ep. 3. But I hoped against all hope that there would be happy ending. Throughout the week leading up to ep. 4 many scenarios played through my brain. So as I sat on the edge of my seat trying to steel myself for whatever may happen I think I was prepared…I didn’t get that happy ending I was wishing for but that’s how life is…really. I think the episode was brilliantly written and acted. Like many of my favorite characters who get “killed off” in other shows and movies, those actors and actresses may want other things in their professional careers, other challenges, other roles. I will always love LTIH, the relationship between Alan and Celia is what originally drew me to the show, the other characters I’ve grown to love as well, some more than others. Lastly, hopefully, Caroline will love again, just please, please, please GOD(Sally W.) don’t let it be a man!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing and for the feedback, Julie. I just want to point out that from interviews with SW and Nina, it doesn’t appear that it was a choice made based on Nina wanting to leave the show (in which case, death is oftentimes a reasonable ending for a character).

      Like

          • The interview was interesting although a bit “tabloidish”… We’ll never know what goes on behind closed doors, but I really think that maybe SW got a little bit of pressure from producers, from the BBC, from the public in general in depicting relationships that 100% of the people are not entirely comfortable with what is coming into their living rooms. Sure those people could just turn the TV off or watch something else. I can’t blame her entirely from succumbing to that pressure if that is the case. She has done a lot of ground breaking and maybe pushed the envelop about as far as she dare. I remember reading that “Happy Valley” was just too violent especially towards women and that turned a lot of people off. But we all have to deal with our bosses or those in authority telling us what to do, whether we like it or not and having to do it to pay the bills. Also this is a drama and she had two possible scenarios for ep. 4 and chose this one for the reasons they(SW and the production Co. this was not her decision alone, I’d like to think they really put a lot of thought into it anticipating what the fallout might be) did, the more dramatic scenario to lead the characters in the direction they ultimately wanted them to go. I could go on and on here but I think you get my point. Maybe you, Lynn and I need to get our heads together, write our own spin off where Carolyn reconnects with a former lover from Oxford and live happily ever after, dealing with their own dramas and their children’s and grandchildren’s dramas… 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  5. If there were any way I could facilitate getting this blog in front of Sally Wainwright’s eyes I would. She has done all of us a huge disservice. You have made the point clearly and with appropriate passion. I am angry. Best that I stop now, before I talk myself into discontinuing watching LTIH. Am I left with The Fosters? That’s just so sad!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have just begun a full function forum for Fans of Caroline & Kate who are no longer going to watch the show. This is not the place to plug it but if anyone is interested in the information email me at shallotpeel @ gmail.com . Thanks.

    Good luck to everyone who does go on watching.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Whilst the fact that SW decided to go the route of killing off Kate, which does make me upset, but for reasons I’ve mentioned on my FB page, I choose not to get angry, or at least to not stay angry, because for me, it expends too much energy to get angry about a fictional character. I work as a nurse. I deal with the deaths of real people on a fairly regular basis. In my long-term facility in the first 2 ½ wks of this month we’ve had six deaths. Perhaps that ends up with me compartmentalizing death differently to others. It’s not that I don’t care about these lives, or the deaths characters shown on television, I do.

    I will be continuing to watch the remainder of the series to see how Caroline manages to grieve and deal with new motherhood. How Gillian helps her move forward and supports her as her step-sister will be interesting to see develop. I want to see Laurence’s attitude improve. And I want to see how the other family dynamics pan out over the next two episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have personally decided on a change of course in two ways. I am going to individually continue to watch Series 3’s last 2 episodes, with no decision made on whether I will watch beyond that. I have watched 3×05 today & I continue to find it another example of the unevenness of this year but Caroline & the tiny bit of Ghost Kate were sustaining. Plus, we found out that Caroline is ambidextrous! She writes with her left hand but peels vegetables & throws with her right. Meanwhile I have also broadened my 6 day old forum to include all FANS OF CAROLINE & KATE whether they are still watching or not. My most recent thread is about the ‘rules for killing off characters on TV’. You are all welcome.

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/LastTango

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I want to add that after watching 3×05 I still think that the writing has lost its way. It is so much more than just the huge blunder of killing off Kate. The tone is not what it was in Series 1 & 2. It no longer feels like the ‘little show that could’. I have also wondered more than one time if “Happy Valley” somehow bled over into “Last Tango in Halifax”. One reporter said that if there’s a gritty drama on, it seems like Sarah Lancashire is in it. He was putting HV and LTiH together as gritty dramas – only in the beginning there was nothing at all gritty about LTiH!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. There is a big push to get the alternative script of LTiH Season 3 episode 3 onwards made into DVD form or even better series 4. Anyone who wants to write to the powers that be check out addresses in this forum or delphi forum and lets get our Kate back in the picture xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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