The year between this year’s Where We Are On TV report and last year’s has been, without question, the most frustrating year ever for queer women who love television. Yes, there have been years where we had hardly any TV representation at all, but the trend since 2006 had been consistently encouraging. Every year for the last ten years, we have seen more queer women on TV and we have seen better portrayals of queer women on TV. I think one of the reasons Lexa’s death caused so much outrage is that she seemed like the ultimate symbol of queer women having arrived. She hadn’t come onto The 100 as a Queer Character; her relationship with Clarke evolved naturally, the way it would between any straight characters. She was complicated and layered and beloved. Her death, and the landslide of lesbian/bi deaths that came after it, were crushing because they shook the hope out of us.
And it was more than just a feeling. One of the bleakest things about this year’s Where We Are On TV report is the acknowledgement that lesbian representation on broadcast TV dropped 16% since last year and lesbians on cable are down 2%. On cable! This is the first year since The L Word began that lesbian representation has gone down on cable TV. While bisexual women are getting a small boost in visibility, it’s often coming at the cost of damaging cliches. (Looking straight at you,Gotham!) And women, in general, are still trailing behind men on TV. We only make up 44% of regular characters, but we make up 51% of the population.