RIP Two More Queer Female TV Characters

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Two television shows have added to the lesbian death trope this week, with two queer-identified female characters being killed, by gunshots no less.

On the premiere of BounceTV’s Saints & Sinners, the small town of Cypress’s crooked Pastor Johnson was murdered. His wife, Councilwoman Lady Ella Johnson (Vanessa Bell Calloway), is not only running for Mayor but having an affair with the current Mayor, Pamela Clayborne (Gloria Reuben), which automatically makes her a prime suspect when their illicit relationship is alleged during a live TV interview. Ella denies it (more than once), but the implication of their conspiring to murder her late husband is there.

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On this week’s season finale, “Revelations,” Pamela’s husband, Travis, has returned home just in time for an intruder tied to the man wrongfully accused to break in, and threaten to kill them both. Then it all comes out: Travis explains he was the one who killed the Pastor because he thought that’s who Pamela was sleeping with. He never dreamed it would be a woman. (“You had the right affair but the wrong spouse!?” their killer posits. “That’s hilarious. Sad but hilarious.”) Then he shoots them both.

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Then last night, Shonda Rhimes‘ newest drama The Catch seems to have introduced a bisexual character just to kill her off. Con artist Margot (Sonya Walger) recently became involved with Felicity (Shivani Ghai), who is working for a “benefactor” Margot and her cohort/lover owe. This week, we meet that benefactor, and it’s Margot’s brother, Reese. We meet him at the top of the episode, as he’s in bed—with Felicity.

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Margot is understandably peeved (and jealous, despite saying she’s not), but the women end the episode together. After Felicity leaves, however, Reese catches her and demands information on Margot before (you guessed it!) shooting Felicity dead. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

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While these shows are different in so many ways—style, tone, audience—they both fall prey to the same issues we’ve been rallying against for years but has culminated more recently in several lesbian/bi female characters being offered in the same season. And in both of these series, their sexuality is ultimately tied to their deaths; writers using them as pawns whose identities are lazily linked to their secrecy and shadiness. They both also happen to be women of color.

With the body count mounting, it seems unavoidable for TV writers and network execs to allow this kind of boring, harmful, tropey storylines to play out over and over again. As writers are in rooms right now, working on new, forthcoming seasons, we can only hope this message is being heard, and resonating with them. They need to consider why, more often than not, lesbian and bisexual women are the expendable ones.

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