On Thursday, March 3, I sat curled up in the corner of my friends’ couch with my laptop balanced on my lap and earbuds firmly in place as I impatiently waited for 9 p.m. to approach. While there was no way for me to watch on my friends’ TV, I was determined to watch the latest episode of my favorite show and hunted down a suitable livestream link. Despite the subpar quality, I was still excited the moment “The 100” began playing on my screen.
My friends had earlier teased me about my love for a show that aired on The CW, a network prominently known for its cheesy dramas, but I easily ignored them. I had gotten used to my favorite shows letting me down: There was Beth Greene’s horribly written death in “The Walking Dead,” and before her, Allison Argent’s untimely death in “Teen Wolf.” And while “The Legend of Korra” did not end in tragedy, I found myself profoundly disappointed with its rushed conclusion. But when I discovered “The 100,” my hope was restored. I thought I had finally found a series with trustworthy, competent writers and producers with original ideas. I truly believed it was special. And for awhile, it was.
Set 97 years after a nuclear war that caused the remaining human survivors to live in space, “The 100” follows Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), the first bisexual lead on a CW show, as she and other teenage criminals are sent back to Earth to see if it is inhabitable. Not only does it turn out to be inhabitable, but there have also been people on Earth, known as Grounders, who were not wiped out by the war. After enduring conflict with the Grounders in the first season, Clarke becomes determined to make peace and confronts the ruler of all Grounders. This leads to the introduction of Commander Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in “Fog of War,” the sixth episode of the second season.
Lexa was perhaps one of the most unique characters I have ever encountered in fiction, an enigma of a woman. She possessed an intimidating aura that wordlessly demanded the respect of everyone around her. Originally portrayed as a wise, strong, level-headed warrior who considers love a weakness, it was not until later in the second season that we saw hints of Lexa’s vulnerable, more open side. And what—or, rather, who—caused Lexa to soften was Clarke. They had an intense, mesmerizing dynamic, and the tale of them falling in love felt entirely natural. The beginning of the third season was amazing to watch as Clarke, who had been betrayed by Lexa at the end of the second season, reunited with Lexa and learned more about her.
The premiere of its seventh episode in the third season, however, changed—and ruined—everything.
In this episode, entitled “Thirteen,” Clarke had to leave Polis, the capitol of the Grounders’ Coalition, to return to her people. At this point, Clarke had clearly forgiven Lexa and trusted her completely, which helped her to accept her feelings. When she went to say goodbye, Lexa was visibly struggling to remain stoic and almost said “I love you.” This led to Clarke kissing Lexa, who openly cried for the first time on the show, and they had sex. After so many episodes of anger and hurt and guarded walls, Lexa and Clarke were finally happy and at peace.
It was literally less than five minutes after their love scene when Lexa came rushing to Clarke’s room. She just so happened to arrive in the doorway while Titus, her longtime mentor who disapproved of Clarke and ingrained the “love is weakness” idea into Lexa, was aimlessly firing a gun. Naturally, the bullet hit Lexa in the stomach and killed her.
The way that Lexa died could not have been any more insulting. One white, straight, male character survived after taking a spear to the chest; another white, straight, male character survived after being stabbed by a poisoned knife; and yet another white, straight, male character survived being hanged. Taking all of this into consideration, how are we supposed to believe that the mighty, revolutionary leader of all 12 Grounder clans met her demise by a stray bullet?
As one fan pointed out online, Lexa was a young lesbian gradually learning to accept love back into her life, and “The 100” somehow deemed it appropriate to abruptly end her story with her being murdered by her father figure because of who she loved.
Jason Rothenberg, show creator and executive producer, always praised his own series on containing surprising twists and groundbreaking representation. But how can he consider this a surprising twist when he, like so many others before him, played into the exhausting Bury Your Gays trope? After all, surely he didn’t expect us to forget about Tara Maclay from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” also incidentally killed off with a stray bullet.
And as for groundbreaking, I would say the only thing he was groundbreaking in is queerbaiting. This is indeed perhaps the worst form of queerbaiting I have ever witnessed, with Rothenberg capitalizing on the excitement of his LGBT+ fans and heavily promoting the Clarke and Lexa relationship as being “endgame,” when in all likelihood he will push Clarke into the arms of a man by the end of the season. To make matters even worse, there were “leaks” of the season finale that showed Lexa and Clarke together. In reality, these leaks were probably released intentionally in order to keep their LGBT+ fans clinging to the hope of Lexa returning, although I’m fairly confident this is just a ruse.
A social media storm started brewing, and rightfully so, since the airing of “Thirteen” and has shown no signs of calming down. Fans of Lexa, especially fans in the LGBT+ community, united to express their disappointment, anger, and betrayal. Rothenberg originally had approximately 121,000 followers on Twitter before “Thirteen.” As of Sunday, March 20, he has 105,000 and has not posted a tweet since Friday, March 11. While that alone speaks volumes, fans did not stop there. They utilized the medium of Twitter to trend numerous phrases worldwide, including “LGBT fans deserve better,” “CW used LGBT fans,” “Minorities are not disposable,” and “Alycia wanted to come back.”
In addition to this vocal backlash, fans channeled their grief to do something positive for the LGBT+ community. In less than three weeks, under the collective name of Leskru, they have donated more than $50,000 to The Trevor Project. Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project is, according to their website, “the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-14.”
As written on the Leskru donation page, they decided to do this because, “There is not much we can do in the way of changing what’s already written. What we can do, however, is unite to help those who are hurting and despondent through this. We now have the means to reach a large audience, individuals who NEED to be heard, who NEED to be understood, and who ASK for our help.”
“Terms and Conditions,” the episode that followed Lexa’s death,” debuted the series’ worst ratings to date. Ultimately, along with many other former viewers, I am no longer watching “The 100” because I am tired. I am tired of strong women characters being killed off to add to another’s pain. I am tired of strong women characters being killed off for shock value. And, in Lexa’s case, I am tired of strong women characters being killed off simply for daring to love women.
For more information explaining the significance of Lexa’s character and subsequent death, I encourage you to visit wedeservedbetter.com and lgbtfansdeservebetter.com.
Finally, to Lexa, who was undeniably special and one of my favorite characters of all time: Reshop, Heda. Yu gonplei ste odon.
Casey Tobias is a second-year student majoring in women’s and gender studies and communication studies with minors in journalism and German. She can be reached at CT822683@wcupa.edu or @Casey__Tobias