Jason Rothenberg, creator of the show The 100, is under serious fire currently from the LGBT community. On the March 3 episode of The 100, a fan favorite character, Lexa, who was an out lesbian, finally got a chance to have her relationship with the character Clarke, only to be killed by the end of the episode. Now, both Rothenberg and The 100 have been targeted by a movement called #LGBTFansDeserveBetter.
Media doesn't exist in a vacuum. Choices you make have consequences. Own your errors. Bury your excuses. DO BETTER. LGBT fans deserve better— KL Hughes (@Chrmdpoet) March 11, 2016
In a March 8 article by Blastr writer Dany Roth, it is explained why the death of this character is so significant in the context of LGBT characters and why Rothenberg, as of March 8, lost 15,000 Twitter followers because of the death of the character.
Roth acknowledged that it would be easy to say the anger comes from simply having a lesbian or otherwise out character die, but the sad thing is, it would appear that The 100 simply went where so many other storylines have gone before. Having a character who identifies somewhere along the LGBT spectrum die not long after their outing has either occurred or been celebrated has become such a common twist that it has become a trope called either “Dead Lesbian Syndrome” or “Bury Your Gays,” depending on the source.
“Xena, Charlie from Supernatural, Talia from Babylon 5, and Cain from Battlestar Galactica, along with many, many other queer women have all been in some way bumped off, often moments after their queerness is either confirmed or celebrated,” Roth wrote.
The character death in The 100 is particularly troubling because, while there are some shows featuring LGBT characters, this is not the first time an out character has died in a show, and fans are taking it very hard. The fans also appear to be struggling with Rothenberg’s decision to only link to positive tweets that support his decision to kill Lexa off.
Rothenberg did appear to acknowledge the fans’ unhappiness with Lexa’s death on The 100 in his interview on The Dropship, the podcast for The 100.
“Obviously this is a show where people die. Main characters get killed and [Lexa’s] the commander, and that’s not a job with a long life expentancy…for me to treat her differently — I guess some were saying that I should have taken more care with her because she’s a lesbian. I’m very torn about it obviously, because I get it, I’m sensitive to it, and I’m upset that people are upset.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, he saw Lexa’s death as significant in terms of her simply being a character that was significant to the show, but he recognized he did have certain logistical constraints. The actress behind Lexa, Alycia Debnam-Carey, was only available for seven episodes on The 100 due to her commitment to Fear the Walking Dead on AMC, so Rothenberg had to determine how best to deal with what has been a significant character and his ability to use her only in a very limited capacity in the future.
In his interview with TV Guide, Rothenberg also acknowledged that the decision to kill off what has been a beloved character on The 100 was very difficult to make. He likely did not anticipate the current Twitter trending topics as #LexaDeservedBetter or #LGBTFansDeserveBetter, and while the latter topic was created as a result of Lexa’s death on The 100, the former was a general response to the media’s apparent treatment of characters who identify as LGBT.
— Polygon (@Polygon) March 8, 2016
Some are claiming that Rothenberg engaged in “queerbaiting,” or snagging LGBT fans for the sake of ratings, only to take the LGBT character away. In “An Open Letter to Jason Rothenberg of The 100” posted on Fandom Following, the writer, Kylie, who is associate editor of Fandom Following, noted just how influential today’s media can be.
“Media matters,” Kylie says. “And unfortunately for you, nothing can be created in a cultural vacuum, no matter how much you might like to think that you’re above the influence.”
On the plus side, while the #LGBTFansDeserveBetter continue to rail against The 100 and Rothenberg, and many state that they will not watch The 100 again as a result of Lexa’s death, there has been a fundraiser for The Trevor Project born, according to Buzzfeed. To date, $28,830 has been raised to go towards supporting LGBT youth in crisis.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)