Note: This review is spoiler-free.
Stranger Things (2016) is an 8-part Netflix series by Matt and Ross Duffer, aka the Duffer Brothers, whose previous credits include some episodes of Wayward Pines and assorted films and shorts featuring tales of the macabre and the uncanny. It’s hard to name the genre that Stranger Things falls into. I see it as an onscreen carryover from the speculative fiction subcategory known as “weird fiction,” which blends elements of plot-twisty sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and the supernatural – the genre of Lovecraft, Poe, Serling, and contemporary author Jeff Vandermeer. Continue reading
Since this is the first in a series of posts, I’ll give a little background. Most of my recent pieces have been about TV’s The 100, specifically with regard to the unfortunate turn it took in Season 3 with the death of favorite lesbian character Lexa, and the conversation that has started about the problematic depiction of WLWs (women who love women) on TV in general.
Having been trained in a near-Pavlovian manner to expect heartbreak any time I see a woman show any romantic interest in another woman onscreen, I decided to seek elsewhere for better representation. One of my first stops was Amazon’s kindle store. I mean, if you can find dinosaur-themed erotica and “uniporn*” for kindle, why can’t you also find a quaint little lesbian teen love story or two? Well, it turns out you can. I had to look around for a bit and weed through the smut – because the kindle store delivers that in spades to be sure – but indeed there are several good stories out there for young women who find themselves in love with the girl next door.
Lincoln in S1, already bound and tortured
As you may have read in previous posts, I’ve had a lot to say about the death of Lexa and The 100 EP Jason Rothenberg’s participation in the dangerous and demeaning “Bury Your Gays” trope. But along with recognizing the (to put it mildly) problematic death of Lexa and the ways in which it tangibly damaged the LGBTQ community, the death of Lincoln gives us occasion for a long-time-coming reflection on the equally deplorable depiction of ethnic / racial minorities on the show.
I honestly thought I wouldn’t have much to write this week, at least not on this topic. I thought I had said all I had to say about The 100 Mess, as Variety TV journalist Maureen Ryan termed it in her bold and refreshing 3/14 article. It’s been written about dozens of times now. However, this past weekend brought us LA’s PaleyFest and Alycia Debnam-Carey’s measured, likely rehearsed, but sympathetic responses to questions about Lexa’s death and what it meant to fans and the LGBT community. Continue reading
The media has tried to send us a message over and over, most recently with the death of Lexa in episode 3×07 of The 100. That message is: gays can never be happy, queer sex is punishable by death, and lead characters can never be in same-sex relationships. In other words, more of the same that we’ve been getting since the Hays Code in old Hollywood stipulated that homosexuals can only be portrayed as unhappy and must be punished. This is a pattern. It is a trope – whether employed consciously or not. It can be nothing other than a trope if you can name more dead TV lesbian and bisexual women than living ones.
And we are tired of it. Continue reading