Whereas there are extra queer relationships and characters in movie and on TV than ever earlier than, there may be nonetheless an extended option to go earlier than queer illustration is actually mainstream and even portrayed nicely. These characters usually fall sufferer to the “bury your gays” trope, bi and pan-erasure, and a heaping serving to of queerbaiting. Frankly, a few of these exhibits make me surprise if the writers have ever met somebody who’s non-heterosexual, not to mention whether or not there was any enter or illustration behind the scenes.
Enter, Roswell, New Mexico. A reboot of a late ’90s cult traditional present about aliens, one of many particulars made public in regards to the present earlier than it even debuted was that they have been altering the sexuality of two of the principle characters, Alex and Michael, and placing them in a relationship collectively. Each have been straight within the unique present and within the books that the exhibits take inspiration from, and Michael was one half of a particularly common ship together with his love curiosity, Maria. I used to be skeptical stepping into — was this going to be a shallow stopover on the best way to a Michael/Maria pairing on the finish of the present? Have been they simply going to be doing shallow queerwashing as many reboots have completed as a type of advantage signaling? Was it even going to be well-written?
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I don’t assume it ever crossed my thoughts that I might count on the connection to be good. On the sequence begin, the 2 are reunited after being collectively in highschool however torn aside by unlucky circumstances, not least of which is Alex’s going to battle and Michael’s extreme private points. Assembly up once more ten years later when the plot kicks off, their relationship is operating purely on chemistry and hindered by Alex’s internalized homophobia, his psychotic father, Michael’s secret id as an alien, and the alien serial killer on the unfastened. Since The CW exhibits are identified for being mildly soapy, this comes throughout as all half and parcel. Positive, they’ll argue and struggle and trip and it’ll be poisonous, like most TV relationships are whenever you break them down, as a result of drama means extra viewers and extra rankings.
Whereas I wasn’t thrilled in regards to the prospect, I comforted myself with the truth that poisonous drama is a staple in straight fictional relationships as nicely, so not less than this was on even footing. Plus, nobody was lifeless but!
Then they broke up on the finish of Season 1, so Michael might pursue Maria. I hadn’t wished to be proper in regards to the relationship being temporary, however it was hardly stunning. Plus, shockingly, they broke up as a result of they have been truly conscious that they have been unhealthy for one another and that they didn’t assume they’d a foundation for a steady relationship. Whereas it was obvious that they nonetheless had lingering emotions for one another, they began on the rocky highway to friendship, aided and abetted by the season’s overarching plot of loopy individuals trying to kill aliens. In the direction of the tip of the season, Alex’s kidnapping and the varied brushes with demise that each of them encountered drew them collectively, however Michael stood by his option to be with Maria in a standard, non-dramatic relationship.
Then she broke up with him on the finish of the season, Alex took steps in the direction of addressing his internalized homophobia, and his father was subsequently put out of the image, and all of that went summarily out the window. Besides that, by the point they lastly get again collectively within the latter half of Season 3, it’s very clear that Season 2, the break-up, and their friendship was truly well-thought-out character growth on the a part of the writers, fairly than only a low-cost ploy for extra drama and extra views. They not solely have issues in frequent now however are additionally each extra emotionally steady and are serving to one another work via their difficulties as an alternative of including to them. As a bonus, they’re each nonetheless alive!
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Make no mistake, the connection and the entire present nonetheless has that soapy, CW drama really feel to it, however there’s character development and growth and acknowledgment of toxicity. As well, the present additionally offers with homophobia and abuse in a mature manner and options different queer relationships with out feeling like they’re there for virtue-signaling or worse, cannon fodder.
Queer relationships don’t should be good in fiction, nor ought to they be, however they need to be a part of the method of treating queer characters as multi-dimensional, faceted individuals. That, greater than anything, is the place Roswell, New Mexico will get it proper, by equally placing their characters via drama, love, abuse, and character growth, no matter sexuality. Plus, all of the queer ones are nonetheless alive!