From Xena to Pose: Queering the Script looks at TV
From “Xena: Warrior Princess” to “Pose” the LGBTQ fan community has always sought TV shows that feature LGBTQ representation. A documentary, “Queering the Script,” looks into the TV shows that made us.
Set to be featured at Outfest LA on July 20, “Queering the Script” was written and directed by Canadian Gabrielle Zilkha. This documentary looks at how the fandom was influenced– and has influenced– LGBTQ TV shows.
But the documentary also takes a critical look at the creators of these shows as well as the fandom itself.
Queering the Script focuses on the LGBTQ fandom
This documentary focuses on the LGBTQ community of fans that supported particular TV shows that featured intimate relationships between women.
With the advent of the Internet and message boards, a strong LGBTQ fandom arose from the TV shows like “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
These LGBTQ fans soon expressed themselves as cosplayers and writing fan-fiction about the possible lesbian relationships of their favorite characters. There was even a Xenite Retreat set up in Lake Hughes, California.
Later on, queer fans latched on to “The 100,” and the relationship that developed between Clarke and Lexa, which eventually led to the queer popular celebration that is Clexacon.
Likewise, LGTQ fans called out Hollywood on social media platforms like Twitter and urged for more representation and diversity through diverse stories written by diverse writers (and not just by white men).
Now there are shows that fully accept LGBTQ characters and have integrated LGBTQ relationships, like “Pose,” “Orange is the New Black,” “One Day at a Time” reboot, and “The L Word.”
Queering the Script: Hollywood tease show
Queering the Script” shows that while TV shows have come a long way in featuring LBBTQ elements, it’s still a complicated relationship.
For example, “Xena” took advantage of the possible queer relationships of their characters by having possible homoerotic lines in the show– though never pushing through with it.
Then when it was okay to feature a lesbian relationship between Willow and Tara in the Buffy series, Tara was later killed off.
This became a pattern when Lexa was killed in “The 100,” and GLAAD noted that 62 queer female characters were killed off in scripted series between 2015 and 2017 (leading to the trope, “bury your gays“).
The documentary also looked critically at the fans, too. Zilkha said: “Many of the top queer ‘ships’ and characters that people ‘stan’ over are white, femme and meet a certain feminine beauty ideal.”
“Why aren’t we expressing the same internet rage when characters of color fall prey to tired tropes vs. when pretty white queer women are?” she said.
Queering the Script: Xena, the lesbian icon
The documentary also looks into how the character Xena became a lesbian icon and developed a cult-like following among her fans even as her sexuality wasn’t really clarified.
One person who was initially oblivious to Xena’s queer appeal was Lucy Lawless, the actress who played the role.
Lawless said that she and her co-star Renee O’Connor (who played Gabrielle) “thought it was really kind of amusing.”
Zilkha told HuffPost that when LGBTQ fans didn’t see “themselves represented on TV, they wrote themselves back into the narrative with fan fiction and other transformative works.”
“Today, with LGBTQ representation becoming more popular, this fanbase is the first to champion representation done right, but also the first to critique, pick apart and demand something better,” she said.
Thanks to Xena and pop culture overall, Zilkha said: “Seeing ourselves or not seeing ourselves has a significant impact on our development of self and the scripts we follow in our lives.”