Some of you may know that I have a total geek/fangirl side. Yeah. I’m one of THOSE people who has a standing order at a comic shop, who just went to see Ghostbusters for the second time (don’t be shocked if I see it again this weekend along with Star Trek for the 2nd time), and who is obsessed with The 100 and Wynonna Earp.
Point being, I’m going to be talking a bit more about geeking here at Women and Words because feminist and queer rep isn’t just about books. Many of us don’t just read books. We participate in other forms of entertainment, including movies, fanfic, TV shows, and comics.
So this week, let’s talk Wynonna Earp.
I want to do this because I’m interested in the representation of women in all kinds of media, and queer rep in all kinds of media. And Wynonna’s got both covered.
If you haven’t discovered this series yet, HERE IS YOUR WAKE-UP CALL.
Imagine, if you will, if the love child of Jessica Jones and Deadpool went into a modern western saloon and got in a bar fight with a bunch of demons in human form but she bore the curse of Wyatt Earp, her great-granddad, and could wield Peacemaker, the only gun that puts these bad souls down. And I mean DOWN. As in, sucked back into hell.
That right there is Wynonna Earp. She returns to her hometown of Purgatory (yeah, it’s named that) and while there, it becomes clear that creepy stuff is afoot and she’s been tasked with taking down Revenants — all the demons (resurrected souls) great-granddaddy put down years ago. That’s the nature of the Earp curse. Every generation, there’s an Earp who can wield Peacemaker and this time around, it’s Wynonna (with caveats — you’ll have to watch to see).
She’ll need help, and she gets it from her younger (and utterly delightful) sister Waverly; Xavier Dolls, who runs with some weird division of the government called the Black Badges; and another fellow, Doc, whose history I’ll leave for you to discover. 😀
Throw in Officer Nicole Haught, a love interest for Waverly (Shipped and Canon’ed! #WayHaught), a variety of bad guys n’ gals, crazy action, snarky one-liners, and a slew of likable characters, and you have yourself An Earpfest.
Based on the IDW Comic of the same name, SyFy optioned it and the TV series was created by Emily Andras, the showrunner. Some of you may recognize that name; Andras held many roles with the series Lost Girl: writer, co-producer, showrunner, executive producer. So when news started circulating that Andras was behind Wynonna Earp, well, there was some hot interest. The first episode (“Purgatory”) of the first season launched April 1 of this year. And very quickly, it built up a core of very enthusiastic and very loyal fans.
So loyal, in fact, that it was probably fan action that got the show renewed for a second season, a decision that was just announced this past weekend at San Diego Comic Con.
I couldn’t be happier. Friends, I am a total fangirl of this show. I got sucked in immediately, and I’ll tell you why.
After the episode of The 100 that shall remain unnamed (which aired in early March of this year) in which the beloved character of Lexa died, and the huge outcry over the “dead lesbian trope,” I was pissed off and bummed about lesbian (and, frankly, queer rep in general) on TV.
I turned to Wynonna Earp, because I dig paranormal TV and I liked Lost Girl, and the Wynonna Earp comics are cool. So, I figured, why not? I could use a fun show in which to drown my sorrows.
And omg, people. I can’t even tell you how refreshing it was to have great writing and consistently strong female characters kicking ass and taking names and being supportive of each other and of the dudes around them. How much fun the entire cast seemed to be having, the snarky one-liners flying from Wynonna, the effective subplots and character arcs (with a few exceptions; a later discussion). And then…AND THEN! Officer Haught and the sweet, building flirtatiousness between her and Waverly — BALM for the queer rep soul.
Perhaps it was fate that scheduled the first episode of Wynonna Earp a month after the episode of The 100 that will not be spoken of. And perhaps it was a perfect storm of events, including that episode of The 100 and the ensuing conversation and wave of activism from fandom about the dead lesbian trope, that cemented the tight-knit fandom of Wynonna Earp (“Earpers,” for those not in the know).
I could talk about this all day, but the major points I want to make are these:
- In this age of social media, when showrunners and actors are readily accessible to fandoms, amazing things can happen (and not-so-amazing). The age of accessibility, I think, may change how shows are written and approached. Witness the fallout from The 100.
- LGBTQ fans take their fandoms and their shows seriously, and are often savvy watchers and cultural critics. It’s no accident that LGBTQ fandoms have created rich and vibrant fanfic sagas based on TV shows and characters. From one glance between two characters, a fanfic can be born. For LGBTQ people, who don’t get to see themselves represented much in media, fanfic provides a way for fandoms to expand even more. And among femslash and lesbian/bi fans who ship same-sex relationships between women, shows like The 100 are (were) incredibly important in terms of representation.
- Fandoms can help drive social and cultural change. Pop culture and all its attendant threads and expressions are often vanguards for social shifts, as well as subversive safe spaces for those who are marginalized in whatever ways.
- Wynonna Earp is, so far, a safe space for feminist ass-kicking and a developing lesbian relationship as well as for exploring Wynonna’s complicated feelings for both Doc and Dolls. It’s so great to find a paranormal series like this that explores relationships on many levels while injecting it with a lot of fun and mayhem.
A show like this feeds my writer side, my geek side, my fan side, my feminist and LGBTQ side. It’s a blast. So if you dig a little paranormal with your ass-kicking, this might be the show for you. If not, it just might convert you with the snappy dialogue and strong writing. Regardless, I know many of you are fangirls and boys (and fanbois) of one thing or another. What’s your guilty (or not so guilty) fandom pleasure? Let us know in the comments.