Last night’s episode of SyFy’s The Magicians participated in the trope that has become a mounting trend when they killed off a queer woman character last night. The show follows a group of twenty-something magicians with different powers and abilities, and currently, the only regular LGBT character on the show is Elliot (Hale Appleman).
On “The Writing Room,” Richard asks major character Julia (Stella Maeve) if she will accompany Kira, a black woman who is currently in a vegetative state, to another realm. He wants her to finish the spell she was working on before she was paralyzed. Kira is a genius; she studied at MIT and sees the intersection of magic and science. Paralyzed, she can’t do the work she loves to do.
Kira senses Julia’s reluctance to magic, and shares a story about the best day of her life:
“You know what I think about when I’m in here? This one day, in this park, with my girlfriend. We sat here in the rain doing this dumb little spell, over and over, making a rainbow that lasted 10 seconds.”
We never find out anything else about said girlfriend, or much else about Kira at all. Instead, Kira asks Julia to show her the best day of her life, which takes them (briefly) underneath a table she once drew a map of Fillory with Quentin. Back at the park, they finish the spell. But the return to the real world elicits a request from Kira: She wants Julia to kill her.
“I’m allowed to be done. I need you to,” Kira says. And while Julia makes the case that a cure could be found, she’s easily convinced by Richard to do as Kira asks. And she does.
When queer women of color characters are brought in to be used as props to further the stories of straight white women, we see a continued pattern that leads ultimately to this kind of end. (As we’ve seen recently with The 100, it happens not just to QWOC, but queer women of all kinds.) But it is even more problematic when it is a QWOC because it feels like an attempt at diversity that ultimately spoils based on the murder of said character.
the death of a queer person of color should not be used as a mechanism of spiritual growth for a white lady. I get that this oversimplifies what happens in that subplot, but it also…doesn’t.
Too many television writers and showrunners are still stuck with the ability to write LGBT women who are sustainable over several episodes or seasons. They see sexual orientation as one-note, and their characters the same. That is why queer characters are one in an ensemble of many on shows like The Magicians, and the inclusion of a queer woman for a B-story plot ends less than favorably.
This specific plot is different than the typical murder in that it is partly the character’s own choice, but that in itself is problematic as suicides among black LGBT people are on the rise, and studies have found that “lesbians and bisexual women are more likely to kill themselves than heterosexual women.” As Kira says before her untimely passing:
“The world never did help a smart girl. Why would it? We scare the shit out of the world. If the world goes after you, take it as a compliment.”
We’ve been complimented enough: smart girls, strong girls, queer girls, black girls. It’s time for writers to know how to write for us that doesn’t end with death.
The LesKru fans of The 100 have been raising money for The Trevor Project since the death of Lexa two weeks ago and they are close to reaching their goal of $45k. Help them if you can, and help to prevent the self-harm and suicides of LGBTQ youth.