The Spring of Our Discontent

The Spring of Our Discontent

This spring TV season has been absolute crap for anyone who isn’t a straight, white, Christian, male.

Castle's Stana KaticLatest in a series of ‘What the hell?’ moves is ABC’s decision to not renew the contracts of two of its female leads on Castle (co-star Stana Katic’s Beckett and Tamala Jones’s Lanie, this after Penny Johnson Jerald’s Gates vanished last season). Maureen Ryan has gone so far as to call this the Disposable Spring and brings up the following point:

Even so, seeing so many prominent female characters exit at once is strange. Adding to that strangeness is the fact that now series leads are fair game… well, it’s very odd, to say the least. Not to mention disturbing. I’m finding it difficult to think of a heterosexual white male lead character in a drama who was written off his show or killed off in the last few months. I’m having trouble coming up with many instances of that scenario this spring — if any.

Something’s not right here. It may be as simple as a massive coincidence, but so far we’ve lost multiple female characters, most to death. The only “heterosexual white male lead character in a drama” that was killed off his own show in recent years is … Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy.

What does this have to do with lesbians, you may be wondering? The connection is simple. Women are being treated as disposable characters on television. The stories being told lack depth and creativity. It’s simply that they are not giving the roles of ‘heart of the story’ and ‘integral to the plot’ to queer characters.

And while we can claim ‘anyone can die’ the facts do not support the claim. Percentage wise, more women, more people of color, and more queer characters die. And the stories those remaining characters are given are, rarely, of any great depth.

To quote Maureen Ryan again:

“Anyone can die” won’t be a truthful sentence until “any kind of character can be at the very heart of the story” and “anyone can run a TV show” are factual statements as well.

Clearly we’ve evolved beyond simple acceptance of people leaving shows. We all know TV is a business, but it’s a business that relies on its fans to be watched. And at this rate, there aren’t going to be as many people watching because they’re not telling the stories we want to see.

Good luck with that, ABC.

It’s time to start writing better stories.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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