Monday, March 28, 2016

You can't do that on television

Like most of you television has been a huge part of my life. Similar to music, a specific show, episode or moment can transport you right back to the moment it happened and remind you of the feelings felt right then and there. We grew up learning our ABC's from big bird, wanted to be a hero like He-man and never thought you would be as cool as Zach Morris and the gang from Bayside. No matter the generation we all had our favourites that we never missed. As we got older VCR tapes changed into PVR and a whole world of shows became available at the simplest touch. Now we can find out anytime how to get away with murder and who gossiped on gossip girl.

Part of my coming out was thanks to television and the amazing (all be it minimal) queer characters. At the time there were so few gay characters on tv and I soaked up every moment I could. From Williow's endearing and subtle coming out, to the layers of sub-text that needed to be peeled back week after week on Xena, I couldn't get enough of these gay (or gay-ish) characters. When you can't find role models in your everyday life, you look to a place that has always been comforting: the make believe world on television.

And this is why when we ship a character and/or a relationship, we ship hard. We tweet and blog about it. We write fan fiction and create fan art. We not only PVR but we save episodes for months and months and rewatch the 30 seconds worth of tv that represents US! That's what it comes down to, we want to see ourselves and our relationships depicted on tv.

And that's were things get tough. Healthy, well written gay relationships are like the blonde haired virgin in a slasher flick... He or she is destined to die. In the same way you yell at your tv in the hopes that she doesn't go into the house, we all see our queer characters deaths (or breakups) weeks before it happens. And it never fails to happen at the same moment too! That point where the characters are content with each other and you finally feel like you will see a "happily ever after." What it comes down to is, queer characters don't generally last.

Don't believe me? Let's go through some examples. From Tara's death at the hand of a magic bullet (although I think Whedon tried to make it up to us with Kennedy in the final season) on Buffy, to the disastrous love life that surrounds Callie on Greys (Arizona was her soul mate I'm telling you,) to the now cold hearted ending to Lexa and Clarke on the 100 and the now sudden and unexpected death of Denise on the Walking Dead (I quite literally yelled at my tv last night.) Very few shows have done anything good by its gay characters.

There stands a few very small exceptions that belong to canadian programming actually. Lost girl, Being Erica (a must watch really) and Bomb girls (set during World War Two and still did a better job representing the LGBT population than shows today) are just a few shows that have graced the small screen and represented us well.

It's hard to not feel manipulated when your people are represented in such a stereotypical manner and always with a similar pattern to their story. Writers know the impact of a queer pairing can be on ratings. As I said, when we follow something we follow it to the end, which sadly comes way to soon for most couples. We are destined to break up or die (and sometimes break up and then die.) Our road is always the same. What worse is that we fall for this every single time! Without fail we hear or a queer character or couple and rush to see what it's all about. I n the back of our minds we know we shouldn't get our hopes up for that happy ending but we jump in anyway. The possibility of a different outcome is enough to create that bond that brings us back every week. And after our favourite couples demise, we continue watching hoping for new couples to form to fill the gap left from the previous loss. It's a tangled web of tv pain people!

I'm hoping that things get better but reality is we are not likely to see any new changes any time soon. So until then I am going to hang on to my nerdy fanfic where everything always works out.

Until next time, stay safe and happy

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