It was the 100th episode of Person of Interest, which should have been a moment for fans to celebrate. Instead, LGBT fans were left angry once more, as the show joined the “Bury Your Gays” trope.
Caution: there are spoilers in this for the latest episode of Person of Interest. If you haven’t watched it yet, consider this fair warning.
— TVLine.com (@TVLine) June 1, 2016
The 2015-2016 season has been full of disappointment for the LGBT community. Gay and (especially) lesbian characters have never really had a fair shot at life on shows, but this year seems to have been the worst. The 100 started it all off with Lexa’s death to push forward the storyline for Clarke. Within days, The Walking Dead followed suit with the death of a lesbian character, and then The Vampire Diaries continued the trend.
Fans were angry that lesbian or female bisexual characters tend to be killed off without any purpose. While Lexa’s death did serve a purpose to Clarke, the deaths usually help to push a straight male character’s storyline forward. LGBT fans believe that their community deserves better on scripted TV shows. It did cause a debate, which is only getting worse as more TV shows join the trope.
Despite many TV show writers and showrunners signing a pledge not to kill off LGBT characters without just cause, Person of Interest has just joined the trope. This time the victim was lesbian character Samantha “Root” Groves, played by Amy Acker. This time she jumped in front of a bullet to save a straight male character, which is one of the biggest reasons fans are angry at the decision.
— Sofía Bonham Carter (@SofiaDeppBonham) May 22, 2016
Executive producer of Person of Interest, Jonathan Nolan, says that the show has not fallen into the trope, even though it may seem that way. Most lesbian character deaths are done for the shock factor to help boost the ratings. It has nothing to do with the storyline, and more to do with the view of the show. This arguably happened with The Vampire Diaries when lesbian vampires Mary Louise and Nora were killed off in a huge explosion. Their deaths had been talked about (without the characters being named) weeks before the actual episode to get people to tune in to see who would die.
— Mstars News (@MstarsNews) May 27, 2016
Person of Interest‘s character death is also slightly different in the way that Root now becomes part of The Machine, in a way; something that she has wanted from the very beginning. Acker told Entertainment Weekly that people shouldn’t remember Root as the woman that she just happened to be, but for the love that she had for The Machine. She says the storyline was never about her sexuality, but her love for those around her. Root sacrificed herself for the people she loved.
@PersonInterest what sacrifice? she was hit by a stray bullet!
— super-heroin[e] (@invisiflyer) June 1, 2016
@invisiflyer @PersonInterest she swerved to save Finch. I believe he was the primary target.
— XSemperIdem5 (@XSemperIdem5) June 1, 2016
There have been mixed opinions on Twitter since Person of Interest aired the episode. Some point out that Root died the same way Lexa on The 100 did: by a stray bullet. However, Root made the decision to swerve to take the bullet, so it was indeed a sacrifice. Others have said that Acker deserved better after her years on the show.
Person of Interest Season 5 is almost over. CBS chose to cancel the show after this season, and the finale will air on June 21. Whether this was the storyline people would have gotten if there was going to be Season 6 or not is questionable, but Nolan has said that the network allowed them to tell the story they wanted. It is possible that this was always the plan for Root, regardless of her sexuality.
[Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images]