Queering the Script relives the important moments in queer television history while also diving into fandom and history behind some the terminology.
The documentary packs a lot of punch into its ninety minute run time. Make no mistake that this documentary could certainly be longer but then we’re looking at a three hour film. Some of the things that director Gabrielle Zilkha manages to touch on are the history behind shipping and slash fiction. The concept of shipping originated with Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in The X Files. In the time since, there’s an entire community of fans that have come together because of shipping characters. Meanwhile, slash fiction dates back to Star Trek. It turned out that straight women wanted to write about the relationship between James Kirk and Spock. In all honesty, this came as a surprise to me.
Part of the film focuses on the importance of ClexaCon. The name comes from Clarke and Lexa in The 100. The convention was the first multi-fandom event for LGBTQ women and allies. In the time since its founding in 2017, the con has grown to become one of the largest events. The documentary manages to dive into the history behind Lexa and her importance to LGBTQ fans. Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) became thee first bisexual lead in a network television series. Clarke developed a romantic relationship with Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), which would only end in disappointment when Lexa was killed off. This was not received well at all. When one watches the fan reaction videos, you can sense the pain. It’s almost as if one lost a family member! LGBTQ representation is so important.
Bury Your Gays and LGBT Fans Deserve Better
Events like Lexa’s death would lead to the whole LGBT Fans Deserve Better campaign and rightly so. The “Bury Your Gays” trope was so bad in one year that lesbian and bisexual women would account for almost 30% of deaths even though they accounted for 2.5% of characters. I don’t know about you but the statistics are honestly depressing. It’s not like Lexa’s death was the first. Nope, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would see the murder of Tara in 2002. Again, how are LGBTQ viewers supposed to feel inspiration and hope when the characters we relate to end up getting killed off? This is something that the networks have to answer.
Xena and More
It wouldn’t be a documentary on queer history in television without touching on Xena: Warrior Princess. The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle is iconic when it comes to queer history. A few years later, viewers would follow Willow and Tara on Buffy. There has been an increase of queer characters since this time, of course. Queering the Scipt touches on as much as possible. There was the premiere of Carmilla on YouTube in 2014. One Day at a Time would premiere on Netflix only to come to an unfortunate end. You can’t forget The L Word. Ilene Chaiken talks about the original incarnation and how online message boards would influence story decisions. The original series saw a focus on white women but I’ll be interested in seeing how they expand on diversity in the reboot. I’ve yet to hear about any transgender women joining the cast.
Most recently, Pose would premiere to critical acclaim. This series is important because of transgender representation. Other members of the LGBTQ community are represented but this series saw a total of five transgender series regulars. With regards to scripted American television series, such a number was unheard of.
How LGBTQ people end up getting treated are in turn due to visible representation on television. I’ve said time and time again that I would have come out much sooner if being transgender was considered normal and not taboo. This is why documentaries like Queering the Script are important.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Gabrielle Zilkha
FEATURING: Stephanie Beatriz, Riese Bernard, Steven Canals, Gloria Calderón Kellett, Ilene Chaiken, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Reign G., Flourish Klink, Lucy Lawless, Britta Lundin, Chandler Meyer, Dana Piccoli, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Alexis Sanchez, Tanya Saracho, Megan Townsend, Angelica Ross, Mike Royce, Becca Watts, Princess Weekes