Wednesday, August 17

As a Queer “Killing Eve” Fan, I Feel Betrayed


This essay contains spoilers for the season finale of Killing Eve.

I still remember the stray bullet that killed Lexa in The 100.

She wasn’t the first queer character to die on TV — according to Autostraddle, more than 200 lesbian and bisexual characters were killed off before her — and, sadly, she wouldn’t be the last. The ferocity with which fans reacted to her death wasn’t just about Lexa; it was about all the upset and anger of having to experience the tired “Bury Your Gays” trope over and over again until we hit our breaking point.

Intellectually, fans like me knew that part of the reason Lexa was written off the show was that the actress who played her, Alycia Debnam-Carey, had to leave to film another series, but that didn’t make the death of yet another queer character hurt any less — and ultimately, it was the manner in which she was killed that felt like salt in the wound.

The relationship between Lexa and Clarke (often shipped as “Clexa”) caused friction between their clans on the dystopian drama series, resulting in a death that happens solely because of queer love. The decision to kill off Lexa in such a tired way felt an unforgivable betrayal — one that caused many fans, myself included, to stop watching altogether. The hashtag #BuryTropesNotUs trended on social media. A fundraising effort raised more than $113,000 for The Trevor Project in the wake of Lexa’s death, and six years later, it’s still growing. The impact of her death was serious and lasting.

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But despite the power of that fan outcry, I remained skeptical that TV writers would listen. Because of Lexa, my guard was always up against the possibility of disappointment. Whenever queer representation showed up on my screen, I resisted the urge to hold on to it with the kind of intense passion, bordering on obsession, that many straight viewers can’t understand because they’ve never been so starved of representation. It took me two years to find a show that made me say, “Okay, maybe this time things will be different.”

That show was Killing Eve.

Killing Eve, which aired its season finale on Sunday, was many things. It was a rare showcase for two remarkable lead actresses and a refreshing reinvention of the spy genre. But from the moment the lead characters, Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and Eve (Sandra Oh), looked at each other in that hospital bathroom in season one, it also felt like something more. Queer fans noticed their connection instantly, and we forged a connection with them. The complexity of these women was so alluring, their chemistry so intoxicating to watch, their cat and mouse game so thrilling to follow, that their intertwined fates felt sealed from the start.

I was hooked, and like most fans, hoped that this relationship would turn romantic. It may be unrealistic for a killer assassin and an MI5 agent to fall in love, but so were many other plot points in the show, and it was always clear that the characters wouldn’t really be complete without each other.

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