5:50 pm EST, March 9, 2016

‘The 100’ writers and actors respond to heartbroken fans following tragic twist

The 100 lost a beloved character last week, and this particular death has upset the fandom for various, complicated reasons.

Almost a week after “Thirteen,” The 100 fandom remains in a state of shock, heartbreak and anger following the death of Commander Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), the love interest of Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and one of the most powerful, positive role models for the LGBTQ+ community.

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Having already established a groundbreaking world in which the politics of race, gender and sexuality had been eradicated, The 100‘s writing staff decided to do what few shows have done before and actually explore an unplanned relationship between two characters of the same gender, neither of whom had been previously established as non-straight.

And despite the circumstances of Lexa’s death, let’s not underestimate how great this was: for two characters to be allowed to exist as multi-faceted individuals, their sexualities only acting as an incidental aspect of their relationship. As Alycia Debnam-Carey says herself, let us not forget everything that Lexa was, everything she stood for. With Clarke, and on her own.

Although this isn’t the first time a presumed-straight (female) character on a TV series has come out as bisexual/gay, it must surely be the first time where her sexuality has neither been mentioned, nor made any difference to the narrative — and where the unplanned relationship happened not because the show wanted to be more progressive, but because the writers would not deny the obvious chemistry between two characters, whatever their genders.

Because of the potential to explore Clexa further, and because of the phenomenal fan response to the Heda of the Grounders, the writers chose to expand Lexa’s role. Her character deepened, the Clexa ship solidified. Despite worry about whether Fear the Walking Dead would allow Debnam-Carey to return at all, the first half of The 100 season 3 was practically all about Lexa, even more so than Clarke, as we saw her fight to hold on to the fragile peace she had secured for her and Clarke’s people.

Perhaps because the writers were so intent on living up to the utopian reality they had constructed, they were treating Lexa like they would any other secondary character — meaning that, like any other secondary character, she could be killed off in a play to raise the stakes for the lead characters.

In terms of the narrative, Lexa had simply become too powerful, too good, and too strong of an ally for Clarke and Skaikru. And her character was too interesting and likeable; she was clearly the writers’ favorite muse there for a while, and it was taking time away from the other lead characters. In terms of crafting a cohesive narrative, it made perfect sense to kill her off. After all, there are no honorable deaths in The 100, and no happy endings.

Related: Hype Podcast Special: Reacting to The 100 season 3, episode 7

And if it had been any other character, this would be plenty of reason to send her off with a heroic and/or tragic death, and get back to the A-story. TV shows kill characters all the time, after all.

But Lexa was not like any other character. In the world of The 100, sexuality may be irrelevant, but not in the real world. In the real world, proper representation is not easy to come by, and the LGBTQ+ community has to stand by and watch as the little representation they are granted ends in tragedy, over and over again. The Bury Your Gays trope is so predictable at this point, we’re still waiting for a genre show to keep its same-sex couples alive for a change.

The 100 season 3 episode 7 Lexa

As evidenced by the backlash from the heartbroken fanbase, Lexa was the one character who could not die. Storytelling be damned; at this point, Lexa had transcended the narrative, becoming a beacon of strength for young people seeking acceptance, seeking a piece of the beautiful world the show had created in which you could be non-white, non-straight, non-male or all of the above, and still be judged only by your actions and words — the things you could control. This is the world we all wish we were really living in, and The 100 made it feel like it could be real.

Lexa’s death shattered that illusion. Reminded fans that it is only a TV show, bound by tropes and conventions, and prone to the same pitfalls other (otherwise remarkable) shows have fallen into to break up admired same-sex couples.

Fans are devastated. There are petitions to bring back the character (even though the season isn’t over yet, and we don’t in fact know what the writers have planned), the writers are being bombarded with everything from threats to heartbreaking messages. And they’ve been listening.

The episode’s writer, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, has been taking every supportive and scathing message to heart, retweeting them on Twitter, and engaging in discussions.

On Tumblr, he wrote:

http://okbjgm.tumblr.com/post/140586045946/im-not-asking-for-a-discussion-of-the-process

Eliza Taylor professes herself “heartbroken,” writing:

Lindsey Morgan (Raven) added her voice to the chorus, tweeting out support for the fans:

Writer Kim Shumway, too, is devastated:

Showrunner Jason Rothenberg is of course also aware of fan response to Lexa, and knows how important she is to the fans. In an interview with The Dropship Podcast, he outlines why Lexa had to die (from a narrative standpoint), and even though the anger is still justified, sometimes it might help to remember that there is a group of writers sitting in a room crafting a narrative — and, arguably, the better we believe it, the better they’ve done their job.

But as you may be aware, many LGBTQ+ youths are suffering from depression, even suicidal thoughts, and tragically the loss of Lexa has affected some The 100 fans strongly. The writers are aware of this, too, and have all been forthcoming in offering support and spreading the message of how to get help.

Writes Shawna Benson:

Writers’ assistant Layne Morgan has shared a heartfelt, important message, pointing out that while fiction is a lie, “Queer girls are special, powerful, and live long happy lives all the time. Your lives will be more than those of the characters you see on television. Queer girls are heroes. They change the world and they fall in love or maybe they don’t. They live in the world. Every day. All of you do. Please keep doing that.”

There are many, many more fantastic responses from The 100‘s cast and crew, who want to make sure the fans know that they never took Lexa for granted. But perhaps the greatest thing to come out of this tragedy is from the fans: the Leskru’s charity fundraiser, which has so far raised over $6,000 for the Trevor Project. Outstanding example of making the best of a bad situation!

How are you coping with the loss of Lexa on The 100?

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