Wreck: Cast and creator explain why spine-tingling queer slasher is empowering for LGBTQ+ people
If you’ve been waiting for a TV series about a murderer dressed as a duck killing people on board a cruise ship, you’re in luck. Wreck has just dropped on BBC Three and iPlayer.
The show is a camp comedy-slasher that follows Jamie, played by Ladhood’s Oscar Kennedy, as he boards the killer cruise ship, the Sacramentum, as a crew member.
His sister Pippa went missing while on board the ship months earlier and Jamie wants answers. Little does he know, though, that the ship’s duck mascot Quacky tried to savagely murder her, before forcing her to jump into the sea. Mystery ensues.
“A reaction we’ve heard quite a few times is ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before,'” Ryan J Brown, the show’s writer, tells PinkNews.
“That is, of course, due to the fact that slasher shows, particularly ones with a duck as the villain, rarely make it on to the BBC. But it’s also to do with the glorious LGBTQ+ representation, on-screen and behind the scenes.
Alongside Jamie, there’s his closest ally Vivian, played by Thaddea Graham, ‘mean girl’ Hamish, played by James Phoon, and ‘powerful’ Cher impersonator Rosie, played by Miya Ocego.
What sets Wreck aside is that the characters’ LGBTQ+ identities are not central to the show – they’re just there. It’s refreshing.
PinkNews spoke to Ryan, James and Miya about the show and why subtle LGBTQ+ representation matters.
PinkNews: Ryan, the LGBTQ+ community has always had a close relationship with the slasher and horror genre. Why do you think that is the case?
Ryan: There is this long history of horror and queerness being interwoven, going back all the way to Nosferatu, which most people think of as the first horror film. I think we relate in so many ways to the genre.
Both the monsters, we relate to those, but also the heroines, the scream queens, we relate to them as well. I think with the monsters, we obviously know what it’s like to be treated like a monster. The scream queens – we know what it’s like to fight to survive.
Alongside Jamie, several of the other main characters in Wreck are LGBTQ+. Ryan, how much did you want to centre the characters and their storylines around their queerness?
A big thing for me with this project was to have queer lead characters, where their queerness, who they are, and how they grow up, informs the actions they take and what they do, but the story itself has nothing to do with that queer identity. There’s no trauma.
I wanted to see that because I don’t think we see that very often. I don’t think we ever see it on British TV.
With a character like Jamie, in episode one, you get breadcrumbs of important information but then in episode two, he says he’s on the ship to find his sister and she’s the only person that knew he was gay back home. And it’s not a big moment in any way.
So it’s almost a throwaway moment when Vivian asks ‘do people know you’re gay back home?’ You suddenly understand the whole reason he’s on that ship is because Pippa was the only person that knew him authentically. We don’t linger on that moment, we carry on.
Miya, you play Rosie, a Cher impersonator who gets involved in trying to solve the mystery on the ship. You’ve previously said you relate to the character personally. Why do you say that?
Miya: When I first got sent the character brief, it was just incredible to me how much I connected to that paragraph of the introduction of Rosie. It was just such a wholesome moment to get the part, and to bring this character to life.
It’s amazing how Rosie is a trans character, but it’s never spoken about in the series. I think that’s amazing to see. Because so often you get this whole trans story and trans narrative, and being trans isn’t about that.
I mean, we are just trying to exist like everybody else and it doesn’t need to be this big showstopper moment. We’ve always been here and we will continue to be here, which is beautiful.
For younger LGBTQ+ viewers, what is the impact of seeing LGBTQ+ characters who don’t just have trauma-focused storylines?
James: I think it’s so empowering. Growing up, the gay representation that we saw on screen was pretty much just a gay man.
There’s normally one of them, if you’re lucky, and they’re the best friend, or they’re the bitchy gay, and they’re very two-dimensional. If that’s your only queer reference, it’s easy to feel like that’s who you’re meant to be.
What’s really exciting about Wreck is that there’s so many queer characters all in one world and they’re all so distinct. They’re all so three-dimensional. I think it’s cool to be able to see that you can be a queer person and a real human being at the same time.
Miya: We’re definitely seeing more in terms of Heartstopper and Euphoria, but there’s still so much further to go.
What’s amazing for me is, I would love to be that person that someone in the trans youth could look up to as a role model, and just feel validated when they see this character.
I never had that sense of validation when I was growing up, because I didn’t have these incredible characters all around me on screen. Too often you see people casting the community just to tick a box.
Why is now a good time for a slasher comedy like Wreck on the BBC?
Ryan: I think it’s been a good time for a long time. But I think people are just s**t scared of trying something new.
And I think the stars have aligned and the right people are in the right roles. I’ve been writing for five years. I pitched horror a lot. And it got the same reaction, which was always like, they just didn’t want to take that risk.
[The same with] gay characters as well. You think that these channels and streamers want that, but do they? They want it if it’s something really bleak, if it’s Dahmer for example – they’re all over that like flies on s**t. But a show that actually empowers gay people is very uncommon.
I know Wreck won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I think there are a lot of people that will love it. And as long as they make that known, we can make more stuff like this and we’ll know that actually, these gambles are worth it.
All six episodes of Wreck are available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.
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