How Netflix Can Improve Its LGBTQ+ Output in 2023 – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Many of Netflix’s LGBTQ shows got the cancellation treatment in 2022. But 2023 gives Netflix a chance to treat its queer stories with more kindness.
At first, 2022 seemed to have been an astonishing year for LGBTQIA+ characters as leads in television shows, especially on Netflix. It was a sign that maybe television had ditched the cursed "Bury Your Gays" trope, which sees queer characters dying for the sake of unnecessary shock value. But instead of directly killing off LGBTQIA+ characters, Netflix has been canceling multiple shows that feature queer protagonists.
Writers who have employed the "Bury Your Gays" trope in their shows have been rightfully criticized for killing off characters in the LGBTQIA+ community, rarely giving these characters a chance at happiness. The most notable examples are Lexa in The 100, Villanelle in Killing Eve and Joffrey Lonmouth in House of the Dragon. The latter is especially worthy of an eye-roll considering it's 2022, and killing off gay characters in the same episode they're introduced is ripe for backlash. But Netflix has its hands plenty dirty from giving the LGBTQIA+ community the representation it rightfully deserves and then ripping it out from under them for seemingly no reason.
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As mentioned before with House of the Dragon, Netflix is not the only streaming service/network guilty of nonsensically killing off queer characters or canceling the show altogether. But Netflix hasn't painted itself in a good light by canceling queer-led shows back-to-back, almost as if it was done purposefully. It would be one thing if these shows didn't perform well or were terribly written — that'd be enough to justify cancellation.
But the victims include Warrior Nun, First Kill, Q-Force and The Baby-Sitters Club, all of which had done considerably well in a year when Stranger Things and Wednesday dominated Netflix's numbers. It's especially confusing for Warrior Nun, which has the highest audience score of any Netflix series. The backlash and figures are evidence that Netflix isn't killing off the shows for poor performance, but the streaming service has an opportunity to do better.
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Netflix's reputation of canceling queer shows before they even find their footing is preceding it, but it doesn't have to be this way. There are a few ways Netflix can show its support of LGBTQIA+ shows and let them find success before cutting them loose. One way is to simply bring back shows that people want. Obviously, the shows listed above are a good place to start, but broadcast networks also had their fair share of unjustified cancellations this year. In its attempt to erase the Arrowverse from existence, The CW canceled Legends of Tomorrow, which pushed for better queer representation in superhero series.
Netflix could also look toward adaptations to promote more LGBTQIA+ shows. Video game and book adaptations have proven to be popular for the past few years, so that could be the answer to Netflix's shortcomings. The Last of Uswhich features a lesbian protagonist — has yet to air on HBO, but the excitement around the series proves that people want more queer representation in television. Netflix could look toward the narrative-based game Life is Strange, which already has its story laid out for adaptation. In terms of books, Netflix is already adapting The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which features a lesbian relationship, but a TV show would better serve the book's story than the planned movie.
Netflix has a lot to make up for in 2023 after having a rough year with queer-led shows. But the problem isn't the series' ratings or their viewership. It's the failure to see why these shows are crucial for LGBTQIA+ representation in television.
Katie is a writer and film & television enthusiast based out of Tennessee. After graduating with a degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies, she has been itching to bring her love for writing and film together by writing freelance. You can often find her binging her favorite TV shows and attempting to start new ones (but failing at that sometimes) and ranting about films on Letterboxd. Follow her on Twitter at @katiexdoll


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