Spoiler alert: if you’re not caught up on The 100, or you plan to watch it but haven’t yet, this post contains spoilers through Season 3, Episode 7.
One of the shows we’ve been watching this year is The 100. It’s an interesting post-apocalyptic genre show that explores themes about how humanity can live on Earth and with each other. It explores how humans fall short, the ways in which we fail each other, asks questions about how far we should go to survive, shows how we are capable of committing stunning atrocities, and illustrates how we sometimes live in moments of beauty to overcome great challenges against all odds.
Like any good TV show, it has really compelling characters. We loved the character of Lexa, the Commander of the Grounders, and the slow buildup of her alliance, friendship, and eventual romance with Clarke. We were shocked and devastated by Lexa’s death from a stray bullet mere seconds after finally consummating her relationship with Clarke in “Thirteen,” which was episode 7 of Season 3.
This is an all-too-familiar trope for LGBT characters in TV shows who finally attain a moment of happiness – they’re often killed right afterward. We’ve seen way too much of it in our TV-viewing lifetimes. It happens so often that it’s referred to as Bury Your Gays, and Dead Lesbian Syndrome. A factor in why this particular death was so devastating is that the show executives had promoted the show as LGBTQ-positive and had proactively sought interaction with and support from the LGBTQ fanbase. Lexa’s death felt like a betrayal of that outreach.
Other people have written great summaries and analysis about this situation so rather than us repeating what they’ve said, go check them out:
- We Deserved Better and LGBT Fans Deserved Better both outline what happened to Lexa and how the show writers interacted with fans via social media
- Maureen Ryan’s article in Variety sums it up
- Autrostraddle’s Riese wrote about All 148 Dead Lesbian and Bisexual Characters on TV and How They Died, and Heather Hogan wrote the Ultimate Infographic Guide to Dead Lesbian Characters on TV
- Dorothy Snarker wrote beautifully for Women and Hollywood about why all of this matters and for the Hollywood Reporter why the Bury Your Gays trope is problematic
Lexa was awesome. She did what no other Commander before her was able to do – unite the 12 clans in peace. She also was able to overcome her pain and trauma from losing Costia, and set aside the teachings of Titus that love was weakness. She opened herself up to loving Clarke, and to changing the brutally pragmatic survival ethos of the Grounders. When she said to Clarke “You were right, Clarke. Life is about more than just surviving,” echoing back Clarke’s words to her, that felt like it was a turning point – both for her personally and for the future of their people. For humanity.
Except, of course, that she died soon afterward.
It hurts that she died the way she did. It also hurts that this tired trope played out yet again right in front of our eyes. It reminded us of countless other pointless deaths of LGBT characters. And it hurt fans of the show who had a complex, strong lesbian role model ripped away from them yet again.
That’s why we felt compelled to make a shirt in tribute to Lexa. We’ll donate 50% of the proceeds from our Lexa Fangirl Shirt to the Leskru fundraiser for The Trevor Project to support Trevor’s crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth. The response from fandom to make something positive from something negative has been amazing to witness and we want to help. We also want to make something for fans to show their undying support for Heda and what she meant to us.
Reshop, Heda. We will continue to fight, in your honor.