It’s been a while, I know, and Jove and I will tell you all about it in our roundup, which will be full of all the things. We were interrupted momentarily by the annual GCLS — the lesfic conference that happens once a year at various locations around the country. WHEW.
I was able to do my Friday night fangirl TV watching last week in the hotel, but I had to livestream my shows on my trusty laptop because WTF WITH THE CROWNE PLAZA CHICAGO THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE THE SYFY CHANNEL I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS MADNESS.
Anyway! I wanted to talk about Wynonna Earp and last week’s episode (2.05, “Let’s Pretend We’re Strangers”) because it’s a game-changer, people. Not just for the plotlines and the characters and the strong female and queer rep, but because showrunner Emily Andras did something freaking amazing.
So for those of you who follow the show, you know whereof I speak. If you have not seen last week’s episode and you are a watcher of the show,
this blog is a giant-ass spoiler
and I highly advise you to run, right now, as far away as you can and put your fingers in your ears and yell “LA LA LA LA LA LA” for a while. Or, if you don’t care what you know and don’t know about this show or the episode in question, I recapped it at my website. I’ve been posting recaps of Season 2 over there
For those not in the know (bless yer hearts), Wynonna Earp debuted April, 2016 on the SyFy channel in the U.S. It’s based on a comic series written by Beau Smith over at IDW, but it was developed for TV by writer/producer/showrunner/all- around badass Emily Andras, who also worked the Lost Girl circuit as producer and writer.
The show follows Wynonna Earp, a wonderfully snarky and troubled woman who also happens to be a descendant of yep, you guessed it, Wyatt Earp. Except Wyatt’s gun wasn’t just about puttin’ down bad guys. Earp was also a demon-killer, keeping the land safe from things that go bump in the night, like revenants. Tradition in the Earp family has it that the oldest Earp living descendant is able to wield “Peacemaker,” as the gun is called, to shoot demons and revenants and other assorted paranormal baddies and send them back to hell. But the revenants and assorted demon-types of course are trying to kill the oldest Earp heir.
She finds out she is tasked with this when she returns to her home town of Purgatory (yes, for real) for her uncle’s funeral and ends up getting sucked into the weirdness that underlies the seeming “normalcy” of the town, including working with the secretive “Black Badge Division” of some government agency that monitors paranormal activity.
The show is a goofy, snarky, feminist romp with tight plot twists and cliffhangers and wonderfully complex characters and relationships, all of which are predicated on women’s agency. Wynonna is a deeply flawed person, with a troubled past, but she is all about younger sister Waverly and protecting her to the best of her abilities. Waverly also ends up in a romance/relationship with local female police officer Nicole Haught, which the fandom dubbed “WayHaught” (love), and Andras treats this relationship with TLC, even in the rough spots, and many of those come from the external crazy that is part of life in Purgatory.
There’s a powerhouse cast with sizzling chemistry in all forms on screen and strong friendships off and out of all this Earpness has coalesced an amazing, tight-knit fandom that literally tipped the scales through relentless but so kind campaigns to get the show renewed for a Season 2. That’s the power of unified fandom, my friends.
Do not scoff.
Okay, so I want to chat about this latest episode, which deals with many different things, including the icky demon that first possessed Waverly but then ended up in Wynonna, who was not as well-equipped as Waverly to deal with it because, as the demon itself said, Waverly is very strong and such a good person. Waverly also has a strong sense of herself and where she fits in the world while Wynonna has a deep-rooted uncertainty about that, and carries a sense of unworthiness for the things she’s having to do. So the demon took hold in her much faster than in Waverly.
Regardless, in this episode, Waverly actually took the demon back from Wynonna because only Wynonna can wield Peacemaker as a demon-killing tool, and as long as a demon inhabited Wynonna, that wasn’t happening. And Waverly trusted that Wynonna would come and get her, and get that demon out of her.
Suffice it to say that these things did, in fact, happen, with extra frosting in the form of Wynonna and Nicole recognizing that though they may have issues with each other, they both love Waverly, and Wynonna does dispatch the evil goo demon and ah, we can all relax for a moment before the next crisis…
which comes at the end of the episode, when Waverly tells Wynonna that when she took the demon back, it told her something. Something that even Wynonna probably doesn’t realize. And with that, Waverly hands Wynonna a small brown paper bag and THIS HAPPENS:
So we now have a strong but flawed main character who is PREGNANT. That’s something you just don’t see repped in shows like this — paranormal kick-ass snarkfests.
The backstory helps explain it. The actress who plays Wynonna Earp, Melanie Scrofano, was pregnant throughout the filming of Season 2, and the baby was born not long after production wrapped, as Maureen Ryan over at Variety noted.
So Emily Andras decided to incorporate Scrofano’s pregnancy as part of the show’s storyline. Which would be one thing if the show were, say, a contemporary suburban drama with plots like husband having an affair on the side and woman finding out she’s pregnant after she learns about the affair and then gets high on her nail polish remover. I mean, WE is a freaking paranormal crayfest, in which Scrofano’s character has to go and shoot various supernatural ickies and kick all kinds of ass. This is not the kind of storyline in which a female MC is ever pregnant.
Which is why it is all the more ground-breaking that Andras incorporated it. Let’s go back to the Variety piece Ryan did, which includes chats with both Andras and Scrofano.
Melanie: [Before talking to Emily,] I broke down in my doctor’s office. I was like, I’m so happy but I feel so bad, in a way. By the time I told her, I had anticipated all the horrible reactions that could have happened, and I knew none of them would happen, because I know Emily. But I was terrified. I was scared that she would be mad, or feel like I was doing it to her somehow. I was not that … reasonable. It was irrational.
Emily: Things were going pretty good, I was like, “Yeah! I kind of know what we’re doing!” It keeps it fresh when someone shows up and they’re like, “I’m kind of super pregnant. I’m going to be six months pregnant when we start production. And I’m basically gonna give birth 10 minutes after we’re done.” I am not going to pretend I wasn’t like, “Oh my God, how are we going to deal with this?”
But I also am a woman in this industry, I have kids on my own, I’ve been through it. And one of the things I’m most proud of about “Wynonna” is it’s such a female-friendly, feminist show. I was like, if any show is going to deal with this, it’s going to be us. And that’s how I have to sell it to the network. I knew we were going have to work it out, because of course we would. That’s what we do. I knew that nobody could be Wynonna but Mel. There was no show without her. So that was kind of my ace.
Emily: I knew that the only way this was going to work was if we incorporated the pregnancy. Mel was so game.
Melanie: I did not want to hide it. I was praying that you guys would want to play it.
Emily: Because of that, I went into Syfy and basically said, “I need to do a ‘Fargo.’ I really want to have a pregnant superhero. I want to do a Marge Gunderson. I think it speaks to everything that makes our show special.” And they fell in love with it.
BOOM. Pregnant demon-hunter, friends. Wrap your brains around that for a minnit. I’ll wait.
Meanwhile, Andras again, from Variety:
Emily: Yeah, at the end of the day, she [Wynonna] still has a job to do. So she has to figure out a way to do that. Wynonna’s feelings about the pregnancy are [complex] because she cannot shed the new mantle of acting like a leader or a matriarch. So it’s hard for her to be vulnerable, even to the people who love her the most. That’s really a ton of pressure.
It’s [one of the] continued themes of “Wynonna Earp,” that Wynonna is often a victim of fate or destiny. She doesn’t always seem like she gets to make her own choices, but even when forced to do things she doesn’t want to do, she always fights to retain her own freedom and decision-making, to the best of her ability. I think that’s why we love her. Even though destiny has decreed that she be this hero, and now she’ll be a mother, she’s going to honestly fight and claw to do it on her own terms.
And this is one of the many reasons that this show is such a gem of representation in terms of women and the issues they deal with, even set against a demon-huntin’ background. Which is something Andras is known for — she explores very human issues and relationships within a spec fic context (see: Lost Girl). I don’t think anybody but Andras and Scrofano could’ve pulled this off, but it’s also a testament to the rest of the cast and crew and to the people at SyFy and all the execs who stood behind the decision to incorporate a pregnancy AND keep it under wraps. Literally, this was not leaked throughout the entire filming of Season 2 and by the end of filming, Scrofano had to be very obviously pregnant because she gave birth soon after production wrapped.
THIS is what we need, friends. Strong women characters, and strong women showrunners who will take those initial risks and kick doors down for some damn fine rep.
And that is one of the many reasons why this show is so very special. Currently, there are campaigns to get a third season. Let’s hope that happens.
Oh, and if you want more Earpness, check out the podcast Tales of the Black Badge. Hosts Bonnie Ferrar and Kevin Bachelder have visited the set, talked with lots of the cast members (they just did an interview with Dominique Provost-Chalkley, who plays Waverly). Kevin and Bonnie are tapped into the fandom, too, so go get you some.
All right all. Happy Friday and may The Force be with you.