Fans of The 100 are still reeling from the death of Lexa – a popular lesbian character who died after being accidentally shot – so the killing of another LGBT fan favorite on Sunday night couldn’t have come at a worse time.
But first, a major spoiler alert! Don’t read any further if you passionately follow a certain cable show on Sundays.
On Sunday’s “Twice as Far” episode of The Walking Dead, Denise (Merritt Wever) takes an arrow to the brain (and through the eye) to become the latest LGBT character to get the ax. Her surprise death came in the wake of The 100’s decision earlier this month to kill off Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), who had just consummated her relationship with Clarke (Eliza Taylor).
Both deaths shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to TWD and The 100 fans: characters routinely get the boot on the former AMC show, and Wever even told EW that her arc “was going to be a finite experience on the show.” As for Debnam-Carey, she’s a series regular on Fear the Walking Dead so everyone should have assumed her time on the CW show was going to expire.
“Hopefully the audience will realize we’re talking about an actress who’s starring in another show, so I really didn’t have a lot of options,” The 100 showrunner Jason Rothenberg told EW. “She was only was available to us for seven episodes this season — and beyond that, maybe never again available to us. So as a storyteller/showrunner, I needed to weigh that against the story that we’re telling. I happen to think it’s an amazing story that we’re telling, but certainly the decision to kill that character was made a little bit easier by the fact that I knew we weren’t going to get to play with Alycia Debnam-Carey anymore. Hopefully, people can forgive me. If they can’t, I understand that, too.”
But it wasn’t just the fact that The 100 fans lost their beloved Lexa. Many are focused on what they see as a troubling trend on the small screen – the short life span of lesbian characters. That was certainly the concern voiced on Twitter after Sunday’s episode of TWD.
— Kelly Lawler (@klawls) March 21, 2016
— Donna Dickens (@MildlyAmused) March 21, 2016
— Ashley (@ASHHOLbrooks) March 21, 2016
— Ashley (@ASHHOLbrooks) March 21, 2016
— Avon Rogan (@FogMouse) March 21, 2016
Though GLAAD has yet to weigh in on Denise’s demise, it did sit up and take notice of the death on The 100.
Far too often, LGBT women on scripted TV are killed off in deaths that serve no purpose. Producers must do better: https://t.co/GrlqhHpK7b
— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) March 16, 2016
What’s worse, there does seem to be a curious history of sudden LGBT deaths. Auto Straddle compiled a list of 146 lesbian and bisexual characters who died on TV, from Susan Ross on Seinfeld (death by envelope glue!) to Diamond on Dark Angel and (the beheading of) Xena on Xena: Warrior Princess.
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Wever, for one, doesn’t seem to think that TWD followed some tired TV trope.
“I understand if viewers watching the show really identify with the character or like seeing themselves or some part of the world that they know is real and true and valid and prevalent represented,” she told The Daily Beast. “And then to have that taken away, I definitely see how that would be disappointing in the broader scheme of things. I’m not sure that that’s what was going on here but I understand the sentiment very well and I am familiar with the [trope of] black characters or gay characters getting killed off because [they’re considered] less human or less real or less important and people aren’t gonna care as much. From my end, it didn’t feel like that’s what was happening though. But I certainly understand the concern in the wider culture.”
As for Debnam-Carey, she was genuinely surprised surprised by the “intensity and the fury” of the fan reaction after Lexa’s death on The 100. “I don’t think anyone on the show expected such social outcry,” she said. “I think any attention we can draw to a movement like that is an amazing thing, and is a great thing to pursue and keep working towards.”
What do you think?