While conversations about the politics of representation rage all over the internet, one thing is for sure: TV is a dangerous place to be a queer lady. A new study concluded that lesbian characters in the 2015-2016 season were killed off at a suspiciously alarming rate.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. With LGBT acceptance on the rise, many shows feel comfortable introducing gay and lesbian side characters -- but not quite comfortable enough introducting gay and lesbian protagonists. These side characters are often fan favorites, but they are ultimately disposable. Their deaths can be played up for cheap pathos or as driving motivation for the more important (usually straight) heroes.
Anyway: the statistics. From Indiewire:
"About 56 percent of deaths were male characters, and 44 percent women. Which is understandable, since men are more represented onscreen. Then things get more specific, with 42 percent being straight white men and 24 percent being straight white women. Then it gets interesting.
The study showed that 26 percent were minorities (both men and women, LGBTQ included) and about 10 percent were LGBTQ women and 3 percent were LGBTQ men."
The study's author offered the following conclusion: “A full 10 percent of deaths being queer women is astonishing given how few of them recur on shows in general ... [I]f TV wants to use death to add jolts of intrigue, then its shows need to take a hard look at just how often they go to that narrative well as a matter of course. Death might have been a game changer back when it was rare for a show to play that card, but now it’s not only expected — it’s straight up boring."