More lesbian and bisexual characters on TV have been killed off than ever before
Spoilers for Orange is the New Black season 4 and The 100 season 3 ahead
62 lesbian and bisexual female characters on TV shows have been killed off over the past two years.
This is the most in any two-year period since records began in 1976.
The disturbing trend suggests that despite progress in terms of LGBT representation, the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope is still alive and kicking on modern-day TV.
The figure was calculated by LGBT Fans Deserve Better, a movement which aims to educate people on the importance of positive LGBT representation in the media.
The 2015/16 season was the deadliest year for bi and lesbian characters on US TV since the group started keeping track, with 42 dying.
These deaths accounted for 10 percent of all on-screen demises, a number which is clearly disproportionate – after all, LGBT characters do not make up 10 percent of all characters on TV.
It also included the particularly traumatic departures of Poussey Washington in Orange is the New Black and Lexa in The 100.
20 lesbian and bi women died on shows in the 2016/17 season, a significant decrease which represents the lowest figure recorded for four years.
However, it reveals that showrunners are still inclined to kill off lesbian and bi women, a troubling habit which LGBT Fans Deserve Better explains has a negative impact on viewers.
The activist group explains: “The key problem isn’t merely that LGBT characters are killed off, but the tendency that these characters, and in particular lesbian and bisexual female characters, are killed off far more often than straight characters.
“Given the low overall numbers of LGBT characters in the media and the important representation those characters provide to viewers, the loss of any one of those characters is more keenly felt.
“The trope was revived in 2015/16 and it seems to continue in the 2016/17 season – particularly for female lesbian or bisexual characters (the trope is commonly known as the Lesbian Death Trope).”
LGBT Fans Deserve Better has recorded 629 lesbian and female bi characters appearing on TV in the last three decades.
Of those, 146 have died – which makes up 23 percent of the total.
The campaign group also tracks “happy endings,” which it says have been given to just 10 percent of lesbian and bi women on TV.
“Historically, LGBT characters have not been allowed happy endings.”
It added that “narrative punishment” for displaying same-sex attraction “remains pervasive even now that mainstream attitudes and laws have changed.”
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