Television has been a big part of my life because it’s large and in your face without apologizing for it because that’s it’s purpose, right? So it’s no surprise that that someone would be prone to emotionally diving into anything with a plot, some characters, and a general setting. I’m fluffing all this up to say that lately these shows on this television box have been pissing me off and doing terribly.
I won’t beat around the bush here, I’ve been completely bias towards shows disappointing me since the fall of True Blood. I can’t say how emotionally invested I was in that show. It’s hard to come clean and say that I loved it more than my own creations because it was creative, it was refreshing for its genre, and it was a world I completely imagined myself being it.
After the hurt of TB it was a bias towards HBO, the same people who gave me Game of Thrones and still failed me again and again and again within ONE season. I hadn’t read the books (yet) but I know that my faves dying in that show had a purpose. It was war, it’s the way of the West (and the North) and that’s just really how the cookie crumbles in that universe. But it was the rise of fame and popularity of this show and the Red Wedding that made other shows take a lead in killing off your fave all for the sake of … nothing.
Orange Is The New Black comes to mind first when I think of this transition in television. Poussey was killed for gasps and conversation, but unlike the underlying plot of war in Game of Thrones, her death wasn’t actually justified. Actually, the entire season tried to play on humor and drama in so many uncomfortable ways that when her death came it wasn’t shocking, it was just simply unnecessary. Her character’s death was supposed to be a symbol of death happening to anyone at any time, but it was also a sign from the show makers that she wasn’t important enough to develop more. I should know, I tried doing the same thing with many characters.
Let’s have a quick story time into my roleplaying life. About a year ago I made a character named Ezra who’s a man with bipolar disorder but also a religiously conflicted and morally corrupt man. He was a hired killer who didn’t know what to do with his life without such a vice. A friend of mine, Venom, asked me once what I would do with him after he came out of a very big relationship in his life and after he began treatment for his bipolar. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do with him. His life would improve, he’d be getting treatment, he would also kick the drugs and figure out his true alignment with his faith and then … that was it. And it all sounded so boring. The idea of him being we and happy was boring to me and she abruptly said to me, when I offered killing him, was, “Why? What good is it for him to die?” Which, as a writer, yeah, you think death is fun when it has no meaning, that the life of that character can teach you a lesson all in its own but it’s not always true. Sometimes to a writer death is a fun thrill.
The death of Poussey was a writer choosing that her joy and happy, healthy, and potentially great life was boring and that somehow the life before would teach us all something. And it wasn’t true. The death of Glenn Rhee from The Walking Dead wasn’t a casualty of war, it was for gasp and because his life thereafter would just be too happy and healthy for us to enjoy. Even Wes Gibbons from How To Get Away With Murder was a death all done to keep us from seeing him better off and happy.
We’re a generation constantly pleased by the misery and drama of characters that by seeing them happy is a joke we reserve for fangirls of these shows. We’re constantly conditioned to think that every single story about someone must include these hardships and tribulations that their happiness is a bore for us, for you.
Honestly, it’s harder to look at these deaths and not question race. I get it, not everything is about race, which is true in some cases but why is it that shocking random deaths never happen to the white leads? The Walking Dead, for example, truly delivered in taking the eye of its most annoying character (even though I found him least annoying in the comics) but Rick was down a hand eons on ago – comic wise – and all he seems to keep losing is girlfriends. Piper in OITNB is the most hated person and the branding of a swastika was supposed to make my heart softer when really I still felt like she deserved it. Frank in HTWGAWM held a gun to his mouth and for literally seven entire minutes we watched him defuse to fucking Bonnie of all people and quite frankly, his death even by his own hands seemed more justified than Wes’.
I’m not saying that killing the white leads would make a difference, but I don’t see why they’re emotionally wounded while the holding their own, doing damn well, and astounding support characters are slain because the writer room was bored and when, well, someone had to go. It’s a slap on the face for those minorities who are already exposed to a world of hardship, drama, trials, and tribulations. Of course there are many other deaths that haven’t been done right to those who weren’t a minority. Grey’s Anatomy, for example, has had a fair share of not-so-great deaths. George O’Malley, for example, was a non-poc supporting character that was caught in the “writer who craves misery” limbo. There’s a good way and a wrong way to take someone out, and there are more unjustified and irresponsible deaths than there are noteworthy ones.
And, just for the record, Ezra is alive and well and has a dog with the new love of his life in a tiny apartment.