Dear Jason Rothenberg: Please Stop

 

I feel like I’m in a dark room, attempting to escape but no one will let me break free. Occasionally, the lights flicker on and off. If they stay on for a while, I have the illusion of being safe—of moving on with my life. I refuse to be haunted by The CW’s The 100 any longer. Still, a ghost grabbed me by the shoulders today and shook them to remind me again what it was like to be a 16-year-old. 

 

I was casually scrolling through Facebook while on duty as a Resident Assistant until I saw a link to an article called, “‘The 100’ Prequel From Jason Rothenberg In Works At the CW With Backdoor Pilot Order.” If you don’t know, The 100 (pronounced “The hundred,” not “The one-hundred,” a very annoying distinction that must still be made even if I’m going to complain about it all the time) is a show run on The CW that in the queer community is mostly remembered as the show that killed the beloved character “Lexa.” 

 

Of course, everyone has their own opinions on it and reasons for watching it in the first place—liking it or not liking it and continuing to watch it or not after she died. Not every LGBTQ+ person that watches/watched the show has the same experience. There are few representations other than the main character Clarke, who is bisexual, and Lexa, who is a lesbian. Based on what I’ve seen, they both perpetuate stereotypes about those identities, so it’s not the best representation. Nearly all of Clarke’s lovers have been killed or beaten after having sex with her. She gets to be the ‘Suffering Bisexual’ while Lexa gets to be the ‘Dead Lesbian,’ only to add to the never-ending list of “All 210 Dead Lesbian and Bisexual Characters On TV, And How They Died.

 

The truth is, I’m not here today to argue why this is bad representation or to go into detail as to why it was indeed direct homophobia that Lexa was shot by her father figure directly after she and Clarke had sex for the very first time after discussing that she must choose between her “duties and love.” As much as I’d enjoy that, this is all just background.

 

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Truthfully, I have not kept up on the show since season four. To put it into perspective, Lexa was introduced in season two episode seven, died in season three episode seven, and I stopped watching after the season three finale—episode 16. I heard about mentions of Lexa in season four and some details to explain the plot, but mostly I’m in the dark and would’ve loved to generally keep it that way.

 

Let’s just say that killing Lexa’s character at a sensitive point in my life when I was first attempting to accept my sexuality was not … the most helpful. I have escaped that time in my life and somehow let myself be free by cutting off my viewing of the show. Some friends would still try to convince me to watch it, but I resisted. I wouldn’t take the bait and let this man Jason Rothenberg—the head showrunner—give me pain any longer.

 

Here’s the thing. The night Lexa was killed, Rothenberg said nothing. He’s used to giving his own audience pain, but I don’t think he realized how much. I remember my dashboard on Tumblr was completely and purely devastated. The compassionate actors and other members of staff from the show were sharing suicide hotlines for LGBTQ+ viewers. If your fans have expressed enough distress that you have to give them suicide hotlines, something is deeply wrong with your show. Rothenberg, that night, said nothing. He only replied with a letter three weeks later, explaining his reasoning for why he had to kill this beloved character. 

 

This man thinks he can tell me that he empathizes with me, but still had to kill this character in a drawn-out, brutal way just for his precious storyline. He then goes on to write four more seasons of the show (and according to the original article, the seventh season will be its last). Now, he has the audacity to write a prequel? In my opinion, if he cared about his queer viewers at all, he would have apologized and ended the show. Ideally, he wouldn't have played into something so obviously homophobic as the "Bury Your Gays" trope, but I do understand the process of learning.

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For months afterward, fans of Clarke and Lexa, or Clexakru (a combination of Clarke and Lexa’s names, mixed with a common suffix in the show to signify a group), revolted, explaining why the death made us so angry and upset with trending hashtags on Twitter such as “#LexaDeservedBetter,” “#LGBTFansDeserveBetter” and more. Here is a master list of articles about the fan response. Lexa fans even raised $174,500 for the Trevor Project, “the only national organization providing suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in crisis,” according to their website. 

 

This was also the beginning of Clexa Con, a convention that is geared towards queer women from multiple fandoms. Clexa Con has annual events to “build community, bringing together a diverse group of LGBTQ fans and content creators from around the world.” Lexa’s death goes beyond this single character, asking for better representation from creators. 

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Still, after years of fighting for better representation of LGBTQ+ characters in media, Rothenberg doesn’t stop. I have no idea what this new show will be like and if it will contain LGBTQ+ characters or not, but I still don’t like the idea that it will exist and be around to remind me of the devastating day of March 3, 2016. Rothenberg will not read this, but I’d like to just put it out into the universe—Jason, please, I’m begging you, stop. 

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