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Life After Death

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 25/03/2016 Lisa Steinberg
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Fair warning, spoilers lay ahead.
It's been a few weeks now since the death of the character Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) on The 100 and the topic has become a social media storm. From fans trending topics in support of Debnam-Carey to "LGBT fans deserve better" and beyond, the storm rages on. If The 100's showrunner Jason Rothenberg honestly thought LGBT fans would be able to see his bigger picture and be accepting, he was naive.
Lexa's character had a great meaning to LGBT fans. She was a commander who was strong, fierce, brave, and yes, she was a lesbian. It's extremely rare that LGBT fans get to see a character like Lexa on television. Someone who had a deeper impact beyond her gender and her position of power. The 100 fell right into the trope of killing an LGBT character right after she had sex with the woman she loved. It's been done, and there are countless examples of this throwaway kind of "shocking, provocative" scenario. Just read Autostraddle's article "All 148 Dead Lesbian and Bisexual Characters On TV, And How They Died" It's not new, not innovative, and the only people it brings entertainment to are the ones who simply just don't get what it's like; who cannot empathize with the LGBT community. The 100 is relentless with the deaths on the show, no one is safe. This show is about surviving (if you can), but as Clarke (Eliza Taylor) has said, "Maybe life should be about more than just surviving." Especially when you are an LGBT character.
Lexa was a warrior always fighting whether politically as a visionary or physically. She faced death on a daily basis, but when Titus' (Neil Sandilands) bullet struck her, though it was intended for Clarke, this warrior went out with a bang, literally. Just a few episodes before, in episode 304, we saw Lexa fighting to the death in an arena against Queen Nia's (Brenda Strong) son Roan (Zach McGowan). So when she was accidentally gunned down by a stray bullet it seemed like a cop out. It felt quick, even cheap.
It's interesting, the show The Real O'Neals had a kind of appropriate line recently where the character Kenny (Noah Galvan), who is gay, is trying to start online dating and he comments that he needs advisors, like a gay presidential cabinet. This is definitely something showrunners should tap into when thinking of killing off any LGBT character in a show. Consult members of the LGBT community that this storyline could potentially affect. Avoid tropes, avoid traps and avoid a blitz of fans in upheaval.
Lesbian deaths are not groundbreaking TV, especially when it seems to happen with increasing frequency and less second thoughts, such as the recent deaths of the character Denise (Merritt Wever) on The Walking Dead and Rose (Bridget Regan) on Jane The Virgin. What makes the death of Lexa so continually perplexing is that there have been many responses and explanations given by Rothenberg, but it's been hard to keep them all straight (no pun intended). Yes, Alycia Debnam-Carey was on another show (Fear The Walking Dead), but the idea of leaving anything open at least would have been better than a final end that wasn't part of the progressive nature that The 100 has been touting.
From the shroud of all of this, fans have been channeling their hurt, anger, and frustrations into many outlets. Clexa fans known as Leskru have raised money for The Trevor Project, the website has become a great resource and form of support, and the most beautiful, poignant fan art have blessed social media and the Clexa fandom. Much like a Phoenix, the fandom rises from the ashes and turns the world and social media upside down for good. Fans have even spawned their own Fear The Walking Dead fan fiction which features a character named Elyza Lex that fans created when they imagined the scenario of Eliza Taylor landing a role on the show. Now, there is a whole new ship called Lexark where fans have found a home and happiness.
Rothenberg recently shared a post where he expresses remorse, but I can't help but contemplate what Justin Bieber says, "is it too late now to say sorry?" At this point, in my opinion, yes. I get his perspective. He's telling Clarke's story. Her journey is still one I am invested in and no, I am not going to stop watching for now. But as we see Clarke pulled and torn in different directions, I can't help but be wary of her future.
As the lesbian death toll continues to rise in 2016, I hope that showrunners learn from this very instance. Never underestimate the power of a fandom, and more importantly, admit and learn from your mistakes. What may seem as something groundbreaking may only be breaking the ground for another dead lesbian character's burial. TV viewers deserve better, LGBT fans deserve better, and yes, Lexa deserved better. A call to action has been made: Stop burying your gays.

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