Rounding Out The Decade: LGBTQ+ Visibility In TV and Film - Part 2

After starting with three lifelike and visibility pioneering series in Part 1, welcome back for Part 2, where we will dive into three powerful sci-fi series that captured the hearts of hetero and LGBTQ+ fans alike. 

 

The 100

While wrapping up just last month with their seventh and final season, The CW’s hit post-apocalyptic thriller gave fans some racing hearts, cold sweats, and more than a handful of heartbreaks. But through it all, it also gave us the fan adored ship, Clexa — a tense and twisted tale of Clarke, a bisexual Arker from space, and Lexa, the lesbian Commander of the Grounders. Although pained by Lexa's death mid-season 3, brokenhearted Clarke wasn’t left entirely solo; both in between Clexa peaks and after Lexa’s death, Clarke also gets tangled up with queer Grounder, Niylah. Beyond badass warrior women, The 100’s writers also gave their dedicated fandom the beloved gay couples, starting with Arkers Bryan and Miller (mid Season 3 and early Season 4), then Miller and Dr. Jackson (late Season 4 through 7). In this world of Grounder clans with borderline feuding cultures, rapidly clashing with the Arkers delivered back to Earth from space, sexual orientation is not a factor in power hierarchies, peace treaties, or wars. It’s hardly addressed in any other way other than fully embracing the LGBTQ+ identities and couples that develop throughout the series. Even though the ruthless and iron-fisted Commander didn’t live to see the second apocalypse or the rekindling of humankind, her impact as an influential LGBTQ+ leader lived on in the spirit of her on-screen followers and successor, as well as in the hearts of the fandom.

 

Shadowhunters

From early 2016 to mid-2019, the Freeform supernatural drama series ‘broke the internet’ when it brought the Cassandra Clare hit novel collection to life. Set in modern New York, the series follows half-angel/half-humans, called Nephilim, through struggles of personal realization, deaths, addiction, and the acceptance of a cross-class love between a Nephilim and a Warlock. From start to finish, viewers are cued in on the war between the Nephilim, aka Shadowhunters, and demons, with the collective world of downworlders consisting of vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and seelies (half-angel/half-demon), trapped in the crossfire. The realm of LGBTQ+ visibility that the series provides begins early on, with an asexual and aromantic vampire, Raphael Santiago, emerging while causing a little trouble for his neighborhood Shadowhunters. Throughout his screen time, fans fall for his humility and humane nature while gasping at his disinterest in sex and romance. Despite starting as an antagonistic threat, Raphael later sided with the forces of good, becoming a close ally to the Nephilim charged with keeping the peace. Continuing the positive representation of LGBTQ+ characters, we see Alec Lightwood, a rough and tough exterior Shadowhunter who denies his love for his best friend and later falls in love with a powerful warlock. Even before Alec and his new love, Magnus Bane, are a fully realized couple, the ship had taken up residence in the fandom’s hearts — and thus, the love for the Malec ship was born. The Malec relationship sprouted and flourished in adversity, with an objection that, with time, grew into acceptance and appreciation. Their wedding episode drew fans knee-deep into their feelings, with many in tears by the reading of vows. Towards the middle of the series’ storyline, several supporting characters are also revealed to be LGBTQ+, including bisexual Seelie, Meliorn, the lesbian Shadowhunter couple, Aline Penhallow and Helen Blackthorn, gay Shadowhunter Andrew Underhill, and human police detective, Ollie Wilson. 

 

The Vampire Diaries (TVD), The Originals, & Legacies

Though released as separate series, these three interconnected storylines lead fans on wild goose chases of questions, curiosities, love, and rage. Across The Vampire Diaries’ 8 seasons, The Originals’ 5 seasons, and Legacies’ current two seasons (with more coming in the future), 13 LGBTQ+ characters have been sprinkled about the supernatural collection of nearly 300 episodes. In 2014, TVD debuted its first gay character when Luke enters the picture in Season 5. Following quickly after its predecessor show, The Originals’ first gay couple began blossoming in Season 2. For supernatural drama series, this line of mysterious and addicting theatrics has outlasted many similar productions throughout and before their time while also keeping up with the growth in LGBTQ+ representation in TV programs. In addition to the three characters listed above (Luke, Josh, and Aiden), the shows collectively feature three more gay men (Bill, Frank, and Eddie), four bisexual women (Freya, Keelin, Penelope, and Jade), one bisexual man (Tristan), two lesbians (Nora and Mary), and one pansexual woman (Josie). Although TVD and The Originals have ended, Legacies has been officially renewed for a third season.

 

Looking to explore the world of the Salvatore brothers of TVD, the Mikaelson siblings of The Originals, and the Saltzman family of Legacies? Well, you’re in luck — all three can be streamed in their entirety on Netflix. Are you new to the post-apocalyptic future of the fan-favorite grounder Commander and the Arker survivors? The 100, having recently added their seventh and final season to the listing, can also be streamed on Netflix. Despite being not as popular following its wrap up, Shadowhunters can be streamed for free on the Freeform website and app, as well as found on Hulu.

 

If you’ve followed along this far, tune in soon for Part 3, where I’ll lead you on a deep dive into LGBTQ+ representation and visibility through films of the 2010s.