SPOILER ALERT FOR “THE CATCH.”
Last night it happened again. Minutes after I declared Margot and Felicity my new favorite lesbian couple on TV, minutes after we saw them in bed together, Felicity was killed, becoming just another addition to the list of OVER A DOZEN lesbian and bisexual female characters who have been killed on television in 2016 alone, and we are not even halfway into the year.
The slap in the face hurt even more because it was Shonda Rhimes, a leading television creator who is, or I at least expect her to be, well versed in TV tropes a writer should avoid (both as a good writer and as a TV pioneer who has set off to “normalize” television).
What’s more, the people behind “The Catch” have signed The Lexa Pledge . I suspect they did that after having killed their lesbian character, probably realizing the mistake they had made (I am not that cynical to think they did it before).
This has gotten out of control. Yes, as my wife pointed out to me last night as we were counting the bodies, ten years ago there probably weren’t even fifteen LGBTQ characters on television for them to kill off. But adding more lesbian and bisexual characters to show off your “diversity” badge, make your show more exotic, boost your ratings, excite the lesbians and titillate the men, and then kill them so that you can advance, complicate or make your straight and/or white characters’ plots more interesting, is not really that much more progressive.
As it is, women die on screen way more often than men.
We have had ENOUGH! We want to be treated with RESPECT. We want TV makers to understand the importance of what they do and how it affects people’s lives. I mean, have they not heard Vice President Joe Biden attributing his positive views on gay marriage to “Will and Grace??” You know, that interview that led to President Obama becoming the first sitting president to support marriage equality, which ultimately led to the fact that marriage equality is now the law of the land in all 50 states and on the federal level?
Showrunners, executive producers and writers have got to become aware of this issue and tackle it head on. Primarily, this should be done by hiring more women, people of color and members of the LGBT community to be part of the creative and executive team. In other words, making the creative team look more like what our society actually looks like.
Secondly, they should not be too arrogant to realize they should have consultants working with them, so as to prevent any “oops, I didn’t mean to/I didn’t realize/I wasn’t aware” mistakes.
Third, do not dismiss your fans. Lesbian followers are the most loyal fans a show could ever wish for. Be smart and cultivate them. (Do not repeat Sally Wainwright’s “Last Tango in Halifax” debacle).
Finally, be original and creative with your storylines. Death is really just the easiest and laziest writing stunt. And in today’s “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” atmosphere, sometimes it feels like shows kill off characters just to show that they’re not afraid to shock viewers (and the lesbian character seems to just always be the easiest one to dispose of). That’s just bad writing.
So here is our pledge here at Lady Parts: We will not make any of these deaths convenient. We will scream and criticize and be LOUD AND PROUD to be women, to be gay women, to be every kind of woman out there, and make ourselves heard.
Join us in protesting that #LGBTfansdeservebetter .
And on that note, could someone please pass this on to the good people of “Wentworth?” You know, just to be proactive.
UPDATE: “The Catch” writer Sherry White posted a very thoughtful, heartfelt and earnest response to fan’s anger about the death of Felicity. It is encouraging to hear this apology and promise, but the fact that in a writers’ room full of LGBTQ writers (according to White) there was still no awareness of this terrible trope means we have a lot of work ahead of us.