Tuesday, May 28, 2024

2022 and the Year of #CancelYourGays

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This has been a rough year for representation on cable television and streaming. Shows that had BIPOC both in front and behind the camera felt the cancellation ax this year, and so did shows with major LGBT representation. Shows with wlw pairings seemed particularly hard hit.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially in light of so many promises from various networks to ramp up efforts for representation just a few short years ago.

Thanks, capitalism.

Whether this was HBO Max/Warner Bros. running rampant and canceling both movies (Batgirl) and television shows (some, like Minx, that were in the middle of production), studios attempting to quietly shut down programs they had created to incubate BIPOC talents, or the rash of series cancellations across multiple platforms centered on LGBT content, it’s hard not to feel like we aren’t taking a giant step backward so networks can continue to consolidate and chase the almighty dollar.

The fact that this looks like we’ll end up in a hellscape of reality shows, dated IP reboots, and endless seasons of past their prime once-hits is just the price we seem destined to pay.

But this year also feels especially like a kick in the teeth for the wlw community when it comes to how many shows with characters or pairings were canceled, some without ever being given a chance to even find their footing, and some that, in hindsight, seem like they were destined for the cancellation bin even before their seasons aired.

It feels more egregious because it doesn’t even allow fans to enjoy the content they do get. After a viewing, the cancellation fears immediately creep up and you can’t tell whether it’s safe to become emotionally invested, or you’re flung into fight mode as you desperately try to campaign for a renewal.

Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, Paper Girls, First Kill, The Wilds, and Warrior Nun all have something in common. All had main characters that were wlw and/or featured a primary pairing that were both wlw. Guess how many of them were canceled this year?

All. Of. Them.

Now obviously, sometimes there simply isn’t the viewership to sustain a show. Statistically, it’s bound to happen. And then there are times when it seems like a network or streamer has already given up on the show before it even airs, or refuses to give it a chance to find an audience.

First Kill dropped its entire season and was then summarily canceled a few months later. Warrior Nun didn’t receive any promotion from Netflix before the streamer quietly dumped the second season the same week it dropped new seasons of the Crown and Manifest. Both First Kill and Warrior Nun were diverse in terms of LGBT representation and not having casts as white as the freshly fallen snow.

This afternoon, just 33 days after the second season dropped, Netflix informed Warrior Nun’s showrunner, Simon Barry, that it wouldn’t be renewed. Even on the heels of record-setting ratings on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and respectable global metrics in countries around the world. The show’s fanbase devoted hours to generating buzz for the show on their own time and with their own money.

And for nothing.

Just six years ago, the LGBT community was fighting another media battle from what is now referred to as the Spring Slaughter, coining the term Bury Your Gays, when a slate of shows (most memorable being the CW’s The 100) killed off their LGBT characters. For a few years, it felt like we were starting to make some progress.

Now it just feels like networks are inconvenienced that we exist.

Image courtesy of Netflix

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