|Eliza Taylor as Clarke (left) and Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa in ‘The 100’|
From The Uncanny Valley:
Now, if you are queer, and a fan of any mainstream media property, there are a few facts that practically run through your DNA: 1) You will almost never see yourself represented in your fandom, 2) If you do, it will be subtext only, and 3) On the off chance that a character is canonically gay, he or she will likely be a) evil, b) crazy, or c) killed off right after achieving happy coupledom. The latter seems to happen most often to queer female characters. So much so that it has a name “The Dead-Lesbian Trope.” Essentially, the message is, gay sex is punishable by death, and queer couples can never be happy.
Sadly, all of us queer viewers are so happy to get any kind of representation, we will watch anything with queer (or even potentially queer) characters in it, even though we know we’re going to see ourselves brutally killed onscreen sooner or later, and odds of our character ever being happy are slim to none. But we watch anyway, hoping that this time it will be different. This has a name too: queerbaiting, a.k.a. luring a queer viewership to your show to make it seem progressive, and hinting at a pairing that either never happens, or one of the characters is killed.
However, The 100 was different. They had given us a queer lead character in Clarke Griffin [played by Eliza Taylor] and did not appear to shy away from the notoriety it got the show. Tiny snippets of footage from Season 3 appeared to confirm that because we saw Clarke in bed with someone female, though apparently not Lexa as far as we could tell. Jason Rothenberg, the show runner, told us to trust him. He knew about the Dead-Lesbian Trope and would not screw us over this time. Everything we learned about Season 3 gave us hope. Excitement in the fandom grew to a fever pitch, the more scenes that were released.
And the first episode was no disappointment. Clarke had a brief tryst with Niylah [Jessica Harmon] while she was out wandering the woods trying to come to terms with what she had to do to defeat Mt. Weather at the end of Season 2. Contrary to what some folks first believed would be the reaction, we cheered her on even though it wasn’t Lexa. Here it was, our lead on a mainstream series, fully, 100% confirmed to be decidedly, unquestionably queer. This is it, we thought. Our day has come. Our day has come when we get the lead relationship treatment reserved for a hetero pairing 99.99% of the time. This is when everything changes.
And indeed, nothing indicated otherwise in the following episodes. Clarke and Lexa have an explosive reunion, but we begin to see them work their way back towards each other, both personally and politically. And then came the Fealty Scene. Nothing had ever prepared us for the pure romance that was that scene. Indeed, I think I even joked on this blog that, “I have seen the entire L-Word series, and I have never seen anything that gay happen on television.” The writers GOT IT. There was something pure in that scene, something that spoke of a complete understanding of what it’s like to be in a female same-sex couple. I personally identified with the level of devotion acted so perfectly by [Alycia Debnam-Carey] as Lexa.
We rested easy after that. But we really shouldn’t have.
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The ‘fealty’ scene