It’s no secret that fans of “The 100” have been upset as of late, most of their ire centering around the death of a fan favorite character, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey).
During the final moments of the episode titled “Thirteen,” a stray bullet struck Lexa in the chest, killing her just after she’d consummated her relationship with Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor).
As expected, fans were shocked and sad to see such a wonderful character go, but no one could have predicted the levels of outrage that took the Internet by storm when fans started calling attention to the offensive trope “The 100” has accidentally stumbled upon.
In this particular case, they played perfectly into the “Bury Your Gays” trope, a common theme in movies and television which typically keeps LGBTQ characters from achieving the same “happy endings” that heterosexual characters are awarded with ease and almost without exception.
“Dead Lesbian Syndrome” is another branch of this trope, which both “The 100” and “The Walking Dead” have been accused of propagating lately. It’s the incredibly offensive portrayal of lesbians that tends to kill these characters off immediately or soon after their “homosexual awakening.”
In response to fans outrage, Jason Rothenberg released a statement, defending the show and apologizing for the misstep. In it, he claims to have been unaware of the trope but has since educated himself on the topic.
“While I now understand why this criticism came our way, it leaves me heartbroken,” Rothenberg says. “I promise you burying, baiting or hurting anyone was never our intention. It’s not who I am… I am very sorry for not recognizing this as fully as I should have. Knowing everything I know now, Lexa’s death would have played out differently.”
In a world where most showrunners would rather roll over and die than apologize to fans for a creative decision — especially after receiving so much vitriol over the issue — Rothenberg continues to be in a class of his own.
The LGBTQ community certainly has reason to be upset and offended. In the battle for representation in media, they have very few characters to self-identify with and even fewer as well-written and heavily featured as Lexa on “The 100.”
Still, after a heartfelt apology and a straight-forward explanation of the reasons behind Lexa’s death — Debnam-Carey’s schedule didn’t permit continuing with the show … thanks, “Fear the Walking Dead!” — it might be time to cut Rothenberg a break.
Mistakes are made, and while they should never be excused, fans, writers and critics alike should take this opportunity to educate themselves and work together to ensure tropes like this one die a swift death in all forms of media.
“The 100” airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. CT on The CW.