AE: Would you be open to adding additional LGBT characters on Wynonna Earp moving forward?
EA: Oh, 100 percent. There’s always room for more. We may have already met some. I would say that any show I create has room for everybody–within our Canadian budget.
AE: There’s been so much rightful attention of late given to LGBT representation on TV particularly with the LGBT Fans Deserve Better campaign and its focus on the Bury Your Gays trope. What did you think when it first saw this developing with the backlash over The 100 and how do you feel about where it is now?
EA: When it was first developing I, like every fan watching, thought it was devastating, but you hope it’s an anomaly. You hope that, well this is one series’ decision and a judgment that was made for maybe circumstance behind the scenes we may not know about. But I was pretty astonished that within the space of three months that like, what, 20 lesbian characters were killed on television.
It’s difficult, and it’s hard to watch in particular for young LGBT fans to feel that kind of devastation again and again and again. It feels like we took so many steps forward to see ourselves and the LGBT community represented in a way that was positive. So then to see people dying again and again and again it feels like we took several steps backward.
That being said, without being glib, I really think the Bury Your Gays trope has been front and center in a way it hasn’t in the last 25 years. I guarantee when it shows up in the New York Times and we’re talking about it that that is progress. It doesn’t feel like it now, but it is. Maybe you really didn’t know about that trope. Maybe you didn’t know about the history of violence against LGBT characters in media. So, at the very least, I feel like thank God this is being put forward and maybe we can change it.
The argument by some is when you’re getting more representation on television; there is also a chance that more of you are going to go down. It’s just what happens. They kill 10 white dudes on Game of Thrones every week. So it’s a careful balancing act. We don’t want to make it so less LGBT representation is happening on television. But that being said, I don’t buy the argument that, “Well, fine, we just won’t write a lesbian character.” That solves nothing, and I think that’s complete bullshit. You just have to be a better storyteller.
For me personally as a writer, it’s very difficult. Because my job is to bring the drama. Again, I can’t necessarily have a couple sitting happily on a couch for four seasons. Like I think you will get bored of that. That being said, I really think we have to resist the particulars of the Bury Your Gays trope, which is once they find happiness one of them should die within the next 7 minutes. If you want to really pinpoint it for me, I think there can be drama, I think there can be breakups, I think there can be people changing and misunderstandings. But let’s not punish these characters because of their sexuality. Because more and more it’s starting to feel like that.
AE: So do you think that message is truly being heard by producers and writers like yourself? What kind of impact will this campaign have?
EA: I definitely think you will see a big change going forward. We need to make sure the gay characters who are arriving on television are fully fleshed individuals with their own storylines that aren’t just about their sexuality. Their storyline can’t just be that they’re gay. The storyline has to be that they’re full-fledged humans.
I look forward to the day when we can just have LGBT everywhere–from leads to supporting to villains to heroes to whatnot. And we’re not quite there yet. But right now we just have one mission, and that’s honestly to look at the Bury Your Gays trope and bury it. More than anything we have to find more creative ways to cause drama with these characters that doesn’t devastate. Right now it’s about fan triage and winning them back. If you’re courting that fanbase, I think you have to be aware of that responsibility in the same way with race or even female representation on TV. You’d better be sure. And given the year we’ve had, try to do better.