There has been a lot of controversy surrounding The 100 and the death of Lexa in the last four weeks. I have probably spent more time than I’d care to admit reflecting on Alycia Debnam Carey’s exit from the show.
Lexa was my favorite character and I found her death very affecting. In the immediate aftermath a small, dark part of myself fantasized about donning war paint, chanting “Jus Drein Jus Daun!” and hunting down those responsible. The rational side of my brain attempted to reconcile the loss with the logical reasons behind it.
Alycia Debnam Carey was only available for a short time due to her commitments to Fear the Walking Dead. Lexa’s death tied together what had been very disparate story lines, giving focus to the rest of the season. Credit where credit is due, ALIE 2.0 being the Spirit of the Commander is a brilliant twist. It brings the Grounder, Arkadia and A.I arcs together in a very compelling way. It is good storytelling, and that is why I fell in love with The 100 in the first place. It’s why I’ll continue watching the show. But I think that The 100 has inadvertently sacrificed one of the best aspects of its identity in executing this latest plot twist.
The 100 is a show that has prided itself in being progressive, particularly in its depiction of sexuality. It’s garnered much support from fans who were hungry for such positive representation. Then one stray bullet shot that to hell, debasing the standard that The 100 held itself up to, and people are now calling the show out on it. The result has been unprecedented, and astonishing.
There was an explosion on social media following the airing of “Thirteen.” Fans of Lexa were devastated. They felt betrayed by Rothenberg and the writers, who had often assured them that there was hope for Clexa on social media. This swell of outrage didn’t abate after time, but rather became something more. Lexa’s death became a tipping point for the LGBT community and supporters. They became organized. After a time it became clear that this wasn’t just fans lamenting the loss of their favorite character, or the sinking of a favorite ship. It was a movement, and their message was clear: LGBT fans deserve better.
They’ve come together in a truly remarkable way and what they have managed to achieve in the last month demonstrates the capacity of fandom to be a force for positive action. Nearly every day since the episode aired fans from all over the world have collaborated on Twitter to trend about the movement. Two websites have been set up providing information on issues such as LGBT representation in the media, the Bury Your Gays trope and queer baiting: lgbtfansdeservebetter.com and wedeservedbetter.com.
Most impressive of all, a fundraising page has been set up for the Trevor Project, which offers support for LGBT youth in need, in Lexa’s name. At last count it has raised over $100,000, and it is still growing. Media outlets such as the BBC, Variety, EW, and Huffington Post have taken notice and written about what this group has accomplished. This isn’t just disgruntled fans going off about a television show. This matters. A conversation about LGBT representation in the media has been started, and it’s caught people’s attention.
I have learned a lot in the last few weeks about the issue of LGBT representation, or lack thereof, in the media. I did not realize how extensively the Bury Your Gays trope permeated the history of television, or how damaging it can be to see characters that serve as representation dying on screen again and again, enforcing the idea that if you are LGBT you aren’t going to get a happy ending. I wasn’t familiar with the concept of queer baiting.
In short, these past few weeks have been an education. I find myself being a little more critical of what I’m watching, which is the point behind the movement that has stemmed from Lexa’s death. It has sparked a conversation, one that is long overdue, drawing attention to the fact that there is a genuine lack of positive LGBT representation in the stories we love, and facilitating a demand for storytellers to do better.
That is not to say that fans should dictate the narrative. That sets a dangerous precedent that would compromise storytelling quality, but after “Thirteen” perhaps writers will be a little more mindful about how they handle LGBT representation. Perhaps the next Clexa will get their happy ending. In the meantime, fans of Lexa and Clexa are keeping Heda’s flame alive.
In a world that can often seem complacent and where social action can often be met with apathy and scorn it takes something special to incite people to raise their voices. If the past few weeks are anything to go by, Lexa has proven to be something special. Her character resonated with people. She was a powerful, revolutionary leader who was never defined by her gender or sexuality. Perhaps her fight is over, and maybe she didn’t get the ending that her character warranted but impactful stories take on a life of their own. Lexa has transcended the confines of The 100’s narrative and become part of a different story. Her legacy lies not simply in her role as Heda, but as the inspiration that sparked a social movement and opened up a dialogue about LGBT representation.
Who knows what will come of it, but the agency and passion that Lexa’s fans have exhibited in the last month gives real hope for change. They’ve become their own story. I can’t think of any better way to honour Lexa and what she came to mean to so many.
Ste yuj. Yo gonplei nou ste odon.