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In particular at issue was how the wave of deaths perpetuated the long-standing television trope known as "Bury Your Gays." It is the pernicious tendency to give LGBT characters tragic endings.In TV this trope has manifested itself time and time and time again for queer women on shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Chicago Fire," "Pretty Little Liars" and others.Who cares, people will say, when so-called religious liberty bills are sweeping the country and stand poised to be affirmed in Georgia? Particularly for LGBT people, who represent a minority population, television might be the only place where the larger straight world sees (or more likely realizes they see) us.Why worry about fiction when the world gives us plenty of non-fiction to worry about? So then how we are portrayed is integral to how we are perceived.The stark numbers make the inequity glaringly obvious.And the message may, at least in part, be getting through.Last week, after fan protest and a concerted LGBT Fans Deserve Better rallying campaign, the creator of "The 100," Jason Rothenberg, was coerced into penning an explicit apology post for perpetuating the "Bury Your Gaye" trope.
While real-life terrors continue to abound for LGBT people, the question often arises why we should care about anything that happens in the make-believe world of entertainment.
Who cares, the thinking goes, when terrible things like this week’s aggressively anti-LGBT legislation rolling back protections and banning trans people from certain restrooms has been signed into law in North Carolina?
The queer women’s site Autostraddle did a comprehensive review of all scripted American television since 1976 and found, to date, there have been 95 lesbian or bisexual female characters killed off on screen.
In contrast, the site found there have been only 30 lesbian or bisexual characters granted happy endings during that same time.
In the span of 30 days, four queer women were killed off in various ways on American shows.
They include Rose (Bridget Regan) on The CW’s "Jane the Virgin," Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) on The CW’s "The 100," Kira (Yaani King) on Syfy’s "The Magicians" and Denise (Merritt Wever) on AMC’s "The Walking Dead." The trends, and ensuing fan outcry, has been written about in mainstream sites like Variety, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, and The Hollywood Reporter (full disclosure: yours truly wrote the THR guest column).