One of the biggest stories to come out of the recently concluded 2015-16 television season was the proliferation of killing off LGBT characters. That subject took center stage June 11 at the fifth ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, where writers and showrunners behind some of the most popular shows on the small screen addressed the “Bury Your Gays” trope during a panel sponsored by GLAAD.
Featuring Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100), Krista Vernoff (Shameless, Grey’s Anatomy), Carter Covington (Faking It, Carina MacKenzie (The Originals) and GLAAD entertainment media strategist Megan Townsend, the hourlong “Bury Your Tropes” panel addressed the damages that come with killing off LGBT characters in favor of propping up and/or advancing a heterosexual leading character’s storyline.
The trope, which has been around since the 1970s, went mainstream this season following a massive backlash to the death of The 100 fan favorite Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in an episode written by Grillo-Marxuach. Other series to kill off LGBT characters this season included AMC’s The Walking Dead, Fox’s Empire and NBC’s Blindspot, among others.
During the panel — moderated by The Hollywood Reporter TV news editor Lesley Goldberg, Grillo-Marxuach defended the decision storytelling-wise and hypothesized what went wrong.
“I don’t think that the failure here was to discuss it, the failure was to recognize the cultural impact it would have outside the show,” he said. “And to act accordingly outside of the show.”
Watch the full panel, below, and click here for THR‘s coverage of the session.