If you know me at all, you know I tend to focus more on the positive side of things. However, as someone who consumes a lot of media, I can’t help but notice when a queer character is simply not hitting the mark. Whether it’s because of lack of good writing, poor character development, or that a character simply doesn’t work, we’ve seen some less than epic characters this season in TV this year. (The fact that I can actually make a list like this shows that we are at a point in pop culture and inclusion where we can be picky. What a time to be alive.)
This is not about characters who are anti-heroes or “unlikeable,” because those roles are often some of the best we see on TV. Also, before you raise the pitchforks and get to lighting those torches, some of these characters are here though no fault of their own. In fact, I really love a few that unfortunately ended up here.
Sara Harvey (Pretty Little Liars)
Oh, where to begin with Sara Harvey. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I’m a Paily shipper, but I would have sailed to Antarctica on the SS Emison if that meant that Sara Harvey was no more. Even after the finale, I’m still at a loss as to who Sara Harvey is and why she joined forces with Charlotte. Dre Davis, while lovely as all get out, was simply not at the same level as the other players and it showed from time to time. Maybe that just comes with the territory when you step into a show with established actors and characters, but her Sara’s scenes with Emily always felt uneven. The writing, which is almost always quite strong on PLL, seemed to just flop around like a dead fish when it came to Sara, too. All those showers, and we still don’t feel clean.
Stahma Tarr (Defiance)via Syfy
Stahma, Stahma, Stahma, I’m so sorry to interrupt your bath, but we need to talk. Jaime Murray is a masterful actress, but even she struggled to rise above this season’s terrible storyline. The once powerful, omnisexual, dynamo has been reduced to a shell of her former glory. Considering Stahma is one of Defiance‘s most popular and crucial characters, this is most disappointing. It’s not you Stahma, it’s them.
Margo (Chasing Life)via ABC Family
There’s ex-girlfriend baggage, then there’s ex-girlfriend baggage. However, that’s not my major beef with Margo. While it’s obvious that Margo was sent to us to be a palate cleanser for our broken hearts over Grenna, she was a grown ass women trying to date a 16-year-old high school student. Check yourself, adult characters: If your girlfriend only has her driver’s permit, she’s too young to date. Dear ABC Family, you know I adore you, but please stop with these inappropriate age differences. Margo had her charms, but she was a placeholder—and an obvious one at that.
Barbara Kean (Gotham)via Fox
Sigh. What a mess this character became during Gotham‘s first season. She found herself in not one, but two harmful tropes. The old and tired “Unfaithful Bisexual” AND the “Mentally Unstable Queer” trope. Two for one! Booooooooooo. Maybe I’m just mad about the fact that Gotham discarded Renee Montoya like one of the Penguin’s broken umbrellas, but it was clear from the get go that the show runners and writers simply didn’t know what the hell to do with these two queer ladies.
This season, Barbara is supposed to become one of the big bads, and after watching her spiral down into unhealthy relationships and, you know, matricide and patricide, I just can’t get on board with Gotham. Producers teased that Barbara will be torn between two lovers this season, one male and one female (trope numero tres!). Even a new lady love interest is not enough to make up for the mess they made of poor Barbara’s story.