In The 100 season three, episode seven, the bisexual protagonist Clarke Griffin finally admitted that she was in love with the Grounder commander, Lexa.
For those who haven’t watched the show, The 100 is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where humans have fled the destruction by living in a space station. A group of teenagers, including Clarke, are sent back down to Earth in the first season to see if the rest of the space station can return after living through a devastating war.
Throughout the past three seasons, there was clearly a romantic tension between Clarke and Lexa, who led the 12 clans that survived the terrible war on Earth.
The 100 was previously praised for having a positive representation of bisexual females on the show and subverting heteronormative tropes, but Lexa’s death changed all of that. Lexa was a Commander and was touted as a strong female character who was willing to work with Clarke in order to keep the peace between the 12 Clans and the latter’s people, who are known as Skaikru. She also wasn’t treated as a “token lesbian,” and instead of concentrating on Lexa’s sexuality, the showrunner took pains to make her a well-rounded character that viewers could relate with.
For Lexa to be shot down by a stray bullet is not only an insult to the character’s past as a war leader, but it is also a perverse twist in the storyline. To add insult to injury, her death occurred mere seconds after she had consummated her relationship with Clarke.
While some viewers may shrug their shoulders at this twist in the plot, it’s actually a very harmful storyline because it has the disturbing implication that lesbians are not allowed to have a happy and healthy relationship. Variety noted that there is an unfortunate tendency in television shows to follow the “bury your gays” trope, which implies that queer couples are not allowed to live happily ever after like their straight peers.
NAMI added that LBGTQ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression because they lack support and face harassment.
While some might say that The 100 is just a television show and Lexa was always doomed to die because the actress is also starring on Fear The Walking Dead, it is still a cop-out. Killing Lexa only highlights the fear of every lesbian teen that society still sees them as “abnormal” and that fate itself does not think they deserve a happy ending like their straight peers.
To add even more salt to the wound, Variety pointed out that The 100 showrunner Jason Rothenberg mentioned on Twitter that Debnam-Carey would appear in the season three finale as Lexa, which sparked plenty of speculation regarding whether or not her relationship with Clarke would be endgame.
After Lexa’s violent death, many fans took to Twitter in order to express their displeasure, and some LBGTQ viewers noted that they felt as if they were just being baited to increase the ratings. The use of such harmful tropes only increases the societal notion that queer women aren’t supposed to find happiness with another woman, which leads to a sense of hopelessness amongst lesbian teens because everywhere they look, they are being told that what they feel is somehow wrong.
Rothenberg’s queer baiting only added to fans’s hurt, because it appeared he had no problems killing off a lesbian character “once she had served his purpose.” If Rothenberg had to write Lexa out because the actress was no longer available, there were plenty of other ways to keep the character alive while introducing the idea that the chip in her neck contained an A.I. that some of the Skaikru are currently hunting for.
Ultimately, killing off Lexa not only promoted harmful tropes, but it was also lazy writing and showed how tone-deaf the executive producer is to concerns in the LBGTQ community.