In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, back in 2013, there was exactly one queer character. He was a side character with an offscreen love interest created solely so that people wouldn’t ship him with Lizzie at that pivotal point in the story.
2014 was when LIWs really took off, and it was also when there were the greatest differences in LGBTQ+ representation (though no one was very good at it yet). Series like Emma Approved and Green Gables Fables (we’re talking Season One here) had none. Other series, like From Mansfield With Love, made a side character who didn’t have a love interest be gay. So far, no one was really gender-bending or reimagining anything to make it gayer.
But Shakespeare is about the gayest off-copyright source material there is, so it was pretty much impossible to correctly adapt Shakespeare and make it end up totally straight.
From our 2017 standpoint, NMTD looks pretty heterosexual, but it was actually about as queer as any LIW can be without departing from the source material (though we’ll get to Twelfth Grade a little later on). Hero’s moms, though absent, are accepted by everyone, as is Balthazar, who is of course very gay despite never using that word in NMTD (The Candle Wasters really don’t like actually saying things, do they?). But it was Pedro’s coming out that really changed the tides. Goodbye queerbaiting, hello to the possibility of onscreen characters entering into non-heterosexual relationships.
2015 was a transition year in many ways. It was no longer acceptable to make an LIW without some form of queer representation, but the methods were all over the place. Some LIWs put a queer pairing center stage – Pedrazar being the prime example, however you feel about LLL – while most series started to create queer side pairings, either through gender-bending or through creating new arcs for the characters. A few examples of this from 2015 would be George Squared from Call Me Katie, Smarling from The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy, and Jamie and Isabella from Northbound. Of course, some LIWs still did LBD-style representation – The Misselthwaite Archives comes to mind – but it was now because the creators wanted queer representation and not because they wanted to avert certain het ships.
Then 2016 happened. We, the viewers, were no longer willing to tolerate entirely cishet shows. 2016 saw the rise of trans and genderqueer LIW characters at long last – Puck in Bright Summer Night and Serena in The Adventures of Serena Berg being the prime examples – as well as multiple characters on the ace spectrum. And with the rise of young, bisexual webseries creators, the number of bisexual characters skyrocketed.
So let’s talk about Twelfth Grade for a minute. I won’t lie and call this series the gayest thing I’ve ever seen, but it is probably the biest. All three of the leads are bisexual, and no one is straight. Literally no one. And no matter who you shipped, it was likely a possibility if not a reality. Again, this was made possible by the source material, which is just about the biest thing ever written, and by the new LIW atmosphere, which was demanding – and getting – the queer representation that just doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Gender-bending skyrocketed in 2016, both with side characters and with mains. And now, in 2017, cishet characters are starting to be the minority. The Emma Agenda and Middlemarch: The Series, my two favorite currently-airing LIWs, have both gender-bent logically and competently all over the place in order to keep canon mostly intact while also making it much, much more diverse. Very few current LIW ships are m/f, and of those, even fewer characters are completely heterosexual.
We’ve come a long way since the days of LBD. and we couldn’t have gotten here without a lot of hard work and thinking and the bravery to tell stories the way we wanted them told. I’m not saying heterosexuality should vanish from LIWs, but I think that the direction we’ve come in is the right one. When a series like NLTS or MMTS gives the same amount of drama to queer pairings as to straight ones, when characters like Roxanne Roberts or Bathsheba Everdeen struggle with their identities in relatable ways, it normalizes every part of the human experience and continues to make LIWs the most representative form of media I know.
While I know I skipped a lot of important moments and didn’t mention several very diverse series, I used examples that I hope most people will be familiar with and that won’t be too spoilery.
LIW creators: keep doing what you’re doing. It is noticed and appreciated. Thank you.
Episode 2 of Anne the Series (aka Anne with an E) is a pivot point for viewers. Its where the story first goes ‘off book’. But a difference in plot is not necessarily a bad thing. In this analysis, I’ll delve into why this episode is important in terms of character and theme. Click the Read More link to head into spoiler territory…
Fangmyer left Nick knowing full well he better get back to the office and face his punishment. He had even prepared, by taking off his tie and taking his badge from his wallet.
He starred longingly at the shiny brass that had ZPD etched deep into it. “I became a cop to protect…” he muttered sadness washing over him as he thought back to all the horrible wrong the ZPD had done to Nick.
“This has been my whole life” he explained to himself, thinking of how he would let this badge drop into the hands of the likes of one Jack Savage.
As he starred at the badge he remembered back to high school, being bashed for being in love, he knew Nicks pain, he could feel it each time he looked into his friends eyes. But if the ZPD has changed from protecting the innocent and hiring the scum, then Fangmyer knew, he would gladly hand over the badge.
He got to the ZPD and as soon as he entered the front doors Chuck was sitting on the front counter; Clawhauser’s desk, holding an ice pack to his eyes, Delgato patting his back. His face looked like an artist got mad at a block of clay and simply went to work on it with his fists.
As Fangmyer strolled through the door both Chuck and Delgato look to him, only when he was inside did he notice Jack standing offside, with a notepad in his paws taking down a statement, Fangmyer reached into his back pocket preparing to hand over his badge.
Jack followed Delgato and Chuck’s gaze before turning back to Chuck.
“And you didn’t get a good look at the guy?” quizzed Jack with a disbelieving glance. Chuck and Delgato, whose eyes stayed poised on Fangmyer, simply nodded in agreement to Jack’s statement.
He flicked the notepad shut turning to look at Fangmyer.
“Odd” is all Jack stated, his eyes giving a quick glance to Fangmyer’s swollen knuckles.
“Take him and get him stitched up” ordered Jack pivoting to point at Delgato and Chuck.
Delgato and Chuck both got up heading for the door, neither set of their eyes leaving Fangmyer, who had to struggle to hold back a hiss.
“Tragic isn’t it” interrupted Jack, catching Fangmyer’s attention “the streets are a dangerous place, looks like the new recruit learnt that the hard way”, Jacks eyes scrutinised Fangmyer as he spoke.
“Yeah, better to learn rules like that early on” confirmed Fangmyer.
“So what are you doing back?” pried Jack, flicking his sleeve up to check his watch.
“You aren’t meant to be on break for another hour and a half”
Fangmyer casually held up his ticket machine, “Out of paper” he lied, playing the game Jack so obviously wanted to play.
“You’re a good officer Fangmyer; but you better watch your actions and attitude”
“I don’t know what you’re referring to Jack” replied Fangmyer
“Chief” corrected Jack “Chief Savage, and I’m talking about how you have been conducting yourself and please keep your anger under control”
“Your one to talk” muttered Fangmyer.
“What was that?” asked Jack raising his ear, as if he didn’t hear Fangmyer but so obviously did.
Fangmyer took a deep breath; “I said, sir yes sir”.
“Good, get back to those cars” dismissed Jack.
Fangmyer turned and went to leave, a demonic, victories grin made its way across Jacks lips.
Fangmyer turned “Yes sir?” he grumbled with as much respect in his tone as he could muster.
“I thought you needed more paper?”
Fangmyer turned and feigned a smile, annoyed he had been caught out, but he kept his cool “That’s correct, thank you Jack” he confirmed as he walked past Savage to head to the stationary cupboard to go get more parking ticket paper.
“Chief” corrected Savage as Fangmyer past him.
Fangmyer froze next to him; “Thank you, Chief” said Fangmyer trying to keep his cool.
“One last thing Fang’s”
“Fangmyer” corrected Fangmyer staring down on the rodent.
“Fangmyer”, corrected Jack.
Jack went to speak, he needed to ask Fangmyer, he needed to know if Nick was okay, for his daughter …and himself , but then he heard it, he heard Nick speak into his ear; the voice coming from over his should; soft and ominous.
Jacks eyes stayed poised forward and his mouth hung open.
Fangmyer went to get angry when he saw the look on Jacks face, and by god he knew the look, it was the same look, the look he had seen a thousand times, the look Darla had given him when her brother and his friends bashed him and put him in hospital, guilt.
Fangmyer took a knee placing his giant paw on Jacks shoulder as he sat paralysed, stunned like a fish out of water. Jack cranked his neck against some deathly invisible force to look at Fangmyer, hoping for comfort.
Fangmyer leaned in deep so his mouth was right in Jacks ear, the overbearing shadow of Nick’s ghost whispered frantically in one ear from behind him and Fangmyer whispered into his left from in front.
“Act tough all you want, but I see through you Savage….If you think the guilt of what you have done goes away Jack, it doesn’t”
Fangmyer pulled back slowly, a strained tear gently rolling down the fur of Jacks face. Fangmyer tapped him twice on the shoulder, simply got up and walked away, Jack simply swaying with the taps standing silent and cold starring into the void.
“Have a good day Chief” called back Fangmyer heading for the door.
Jacks scrapped at the barrel for something to yell back but came back empty, turning and running towards his office, his alcohol and his meds.