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LGBT fans deserve better: The fandom uprising demands better representation

It’s been a really bad few days for The 100 showrunner, Jason Rothenberg. It’s been just under two weeks since episode seven of this season of The 100, and within that time fans have trended ten protesting hashtags worldwide, raised over $40,000 for The Trevor Project, and very loudly called for Rothenberg’s head.

Oh and Rothenberg has lost 15,422 followers and counting, including 10,000 overnight just after the episode “Thirteen” aired.

If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not read on.

If you’re wondering why you should care, some background: Lexa, bad ass commander of the grounders and out lesbian was killed by a stray bullet the seventh episode of this season of The 100. (If you’re having Buffy flashbacks, you are not alone.) Her death spawned a litany of think pieces about this being another example of “The Dead Lesbian Trope,” and the overall pain being felt by the LGBT community. That pain has been reverberating for close to two weeks, with no signs of slowing down.

Fans of the Clarke and Lexa pairing, or Clexa, have responded to Lexa’s death with open revolt. Their message is that LGBT fans deserve to be represented in meaningful ways throughout television and pop-culture, and not to die constantly on-screen.  This is not a rag tag group getting lucky on social media, this is a group of organized people getting behind a rallying cry. This is a digital movement that continues to gain steam.

The response from those actually connected to the show has been mixed. Some have said too much; some need to say more.

In the early morning hours of March 9, five days after the episode aired, writers Shawna and Julie Benson did a periscope session (which has since been deleted). Though only a few people probably saw the stream (it happened at 4 AM EST). Tumblr exploded in rage at statements reportedly made by the Bensons during the periscope, including that Lexa might not have been Clarke’s soulmate (though Clarke was definitely Lexa’s); that Alycia Debnam-Carey, the actress who played Lexa, wanted to return to the show; and hinting that Clarke and Bellamy (the male lead) are the end game.

It’s clear that there has been an effective gag order placed onto the cast and writing staff since the days of initial and frantic response. (Tellingly, the CW declined comment for this article.) The silence is consistent with Rothenberg’s approach to fan outcry. The show runner has yet to acknowledge the push back or apologize. It’s been eleven days, and the closest thing to acknowledgement Rothenberg has given Clexa fans is a retweet that paints them as bullies. That’s probably not the best course of action.

Rothenberg might think he’s laying low, but really his silence just exacerbates the problem. Rothenberg’s primary crime is rendering lesbian women invisible, and his silence doubles down on that effect. He  effectively saying that the lesbians, queer people from other parts of the acronym, and their allies do not matter to him. Which, you know, is kind of their point.

And this is such a damn shame, because The 100 is a great show. In the past week, I have watched every single episode, and I’ve been struck by how many women are in charge in this show. In The 100’s universe gender does not preclude one from leadership, nor does race, or sexual orientation. That’s so remarkable and honestly beautiful. But that doesn’t mean the show is immune from criticism.

Rothenberg should learn from Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who wrote “Thirteen” and will be helming the Xena reboot. Grillo-Marxuach spent numerous hours in the last week and a half responding to fans, reblogging their feelings and retweeting them. He declined to comment for this article citing his desire to connect directly with fans and not wanting to come across as “doing damage control.”

Taking criticism from fans, like Grillo-Marxuach has, is important for a show that has built itself on fan interaction through social media, with actors and writing staff live tweeting the episodes. They regularly attend various conventions, and engage on tumblr. This is an engaged show with its young audience. The silence in response to the criticism of Lexa, therefore, is completely deafening. It shouldn’t be too hard to just apologize to fans who only want to be heard.

Header Image Credit: Tumblr user, perky-psycho


Katie Barnes (they/them/their) is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer. While at St. Olaf College studying History and (oddly) Russian (among other things), Katie fell in love with politics, and doing the hard work in the hard places. A retired fanfiction writer, Katie now actually enjoys writing with their name attached. Katie actually loves cornfields, and thinks there is nothing better than a summer night's drive through the Indiana countryside. They love basketball and are a huge fan of the UConn women's team. When not fighting the good fight, you can usually find Katie watching sports, writing, or reading a good book.

Katie Barnes is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer.

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