We’ll make heaven a place on earth…
The closing credits of Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” episode triumphantly blared Belinda Carlisle’s seminal 80’s hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” And with good reason. In a year that littered the television and digital platform landscape with the bodies of queer women left and right, “San Junipero” made the choice to be bold. Not only did Black Mirror gift us with a touching, moving story of two women finding each other across space and time and falling in love, not only did they give us an interracial queer relationship, they gave us a happy ending.
And the kicker out of all of that? They buried the gays. The truly amazing twist “San Junipero” gave us was taking the tragic queer death and not only obliterating it, but transforming it into a moment of wild, transcendent joy. And this from a show that never ends happily, a show for which technology is almost always a thing to fear. Instead of fear, technology became the path that brought two aging queer women a chance at happiness not only in their last days on earth, but forever. It’s the literal definition of “…and they lived happily ever after.” Only in the afterlife, so you know, their happy ending isn’t so much an ending as the beginning of their eternity.
Amazingly, that bright, burning moment of triumph for queer women didn’t stop there. Some of you might have heard, but “San Junipero” was nominated for two Emmy Awards this year. For “Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Drama: Charlie Brooker” and “TV Movie.” “San Junipero” swept not one, but both categories.
Let that sink in.
The episode about two interracial queer women who died and had a happily forever after won the most prestigious award available in the United States for television. The Emmys are also one of the most public venues in the US for the celebration of storytelling and its power; queer women could not have asked for a more powerful validation of the beauty and significance of their stories.
Seeing a story about queer women loving each other, getting their happy ending, and getting to have agency over their lives… that matters. And when those stories are recognized and awarded for their merit, that sends out a powerful message to those in charge. So, writers and showrunners of American media, take note:
We matter. We’re here. We deserve our happy ending.