I’m up a little early on a Sunday morning (thanks to an early bedtime last night), I have my coffee and my Graham, and the wife is sleeping soundly downstairs. A lot of tasks await us today (most importantly, making a birthday cake), but for now, I’ve settled down to write this damn Wynonna Earp post I’ve been threatening to do for a week. Obviously, minor spoilers are ahead. So if you don’t want to know what happens without seeing it yourself, well, stop reading this and come back in a day after you’ve watched all 13 episodes. I can wait.
When I sat down to write this several days ago, I realized it was a much bigger story than I thought. I needed not one but two prelim posts about a movie and a show that moved me, and those were hard to write. I told Chris yesterday over delicious, delicious hot dogs at Franktuary that the Buffy post really brought up a lot of stuff I hadn’t thought about in a while (or ever). Who needs therapy when you have a blog, am I right?
Sausages Wieners for life!
I had been wanting to watch Wynonna Earp ever since I saw it advertised on Lost Girl, another SyFy/Canadian show that happened to be about a bisexual succubus. You know, the usual. Its finale aired, and, much to my surprise, it didn’t fill me with angst, mostly because [spoiler alert!]…the ladies ended up together. That never happens. Like, ever. And they did. It’s obviously more complicated than that, what with the difference between human and fae lifespans, but I don’t need to tell you that, right? Right.
So, I had been meaning to watch Wynonna Earp for weeks, but I hadn’t had any free time. Work was busy, I was trying to stay active, etc. You know, life happened. So one day, a free hour on my hands, I decided to watch the first episode. And I was hooked.
I watched eight episodes in the next 24 hours. In addition to work and laundry and also probably Zumba, because I am a suburban soccer mom with no kids.
I hadn’t seen a show with so much of…everything since Buffy. The writing and the humor were on point, more than any show I have seen in years. (And trust me — I see a lot of shows. I watch TV for a living, after all.) The relationships between all of the characters were just…brilliant, especially between Wynonna and her younger sister, Waverly. It’s filled with strong women everywhere — heroes and villains. And the heroes are flawed and the villains are sometimes good. It’s wonderfully, richly, perfectly complex. Once again, a show set in a supernatural setting is more real than anything else on TV.
Then…I got a little more invested.
I’m no stranger to podcasts (I generally prefer listening to them over the radio in my car, at least when I’m alone). I listened to a Buffy rewatch one for years, then one about Lost Girl, then the Nerdist podcast because Chris Hardwick is all of us and it’s so great to hear him geek out. But this WE one is special. Bonnie and Kevin are clearly such HUGE fans and discuss things in intricate detail about the episodes, and they have interviews with all of the cast. The podcast got me even more hooked — I started rewatching the episodes, looking for the things they talked about.
Then…my 39-year-old self fell into the Twitter hole, which has been interesting. New social media are hard, guys. But I try. I think I’m pretty funny and sometimes insightful. And if you’re a fan of the show, you should follow me, because that’s mostly what I tweet about (sorry, everyone else, but not really). It’s honestly been so fun and amazing. I don’t think I’ve been this invested in watching a show in real time in, well, ever. This fandom is amazing, and the cast/crew is ridiculously interactive and generous with their time.
Once again, I found people onscreen (and online) that I wanted to surround myself with. And I couldn’t have picked a better bunch.
[Okay, the real, legit spoilers start now. Stop reading this part and come back to it if you don’t want to know stuff! Scroll down and pick this post back up after the picture of the Unicorn at Anthrocon.]
So, I am a fan of strong women (I did marry one, after all), but let me talk for a minute about the men in the main cast. Both are absolutely amazing as their characters, and (and I’m secure enough in my homosexuality to say this) both are incredibly sexy. In a video hangout after the penultimate episode, when they were talking about Doc’s (Tim Rozon) “sex swagger,” I may have mentioned that I’m a lesbian and his sex swagger affected me. No big deal. And Dolls’ interactions with Nicole and how he totally knows what’s going on before Wynonna (and almost everyone else) does — priceless. Perfect. Incredible. It’s totally my favorite thing his eyes do.
Photo of these two handsome fellas courtesy of SyFy.
The supporting characters are so well-cast, too. They’re all three-dimensional, from mother-figure Gus to Sheriff Nedley (and his daughter) to all of the revenants. One of my favorite scenes features Chrissy Nedley, so proud of herself that she chloroformed Waverly to draw out Wynonna. That phone call is priceless and reminds me so much of vampire Harmony on Buffy. Also, where did she get chloroform? So many unanswered questions. And her character is also responsible for the “[Waverly] scissored a stripper” line.
I can even (grudgingly) appreciate Champ and what he represents. Tattooed arms so people think he’s a badass and one tiny tattoo where no one can see because he’s really probably secretly a wuss (a tattoo I have always referred to in my head as a Champ Stamp). He’s responsible for one of the most powerful scenes to me, too — where he calls Nicole and Waverly’s relationship disgusting. It hit me. Right in the feels. Because I’ve been there, and I know a lot of the fandom has, too. Hearing there’s something wrong with you, having it hit you in the face like an actual slap. Having to keep your cool and remain calm because you’re in public (which Nicole did) as opposed to losing it and feeling hot tears spill down your face at a restaurant (what I did).
Refusing to let it ruin your fancy party with your ladyfriend (Nicole) as opposed to having it ruin your Christmas Day (me).
Representation onscreen comes in many forms, and all of them are important. It means just as much to see a strong, powerful, sweet, (somewhat) butch ginger cop owning it and being true to herself as it does to see her reading the room and quietly dealing with some homophobic asshole. Well, trying to, until he threatens your lady and then you have to knock him down with one punch and cuff him, because you’re amazing. It gives me something to point to. “See? I’m not overreacting. People still think I’m disgusting, and that’s why, just because I can get married, the fight isn’t over. Stop trying to minimize me and my life. No one is trying to flaunt anything. We are just trying to live.”
And that brings me to the sweet, sweet pairing of Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught. A large part of my connection with this show. It’s a queer relationship that feels…real. On both of their sides. And one I can see myself in. I’ve been Waverly — approached and hit on by an intriguing woman, unsure what to do, how to react, what it made me feel; falling for this amazing lady but being afraid to show it; breaking down and making the first move because my heart will explode from my chest if I don’t. And I’ve been Nicole — confidently approaching this girl that I’ve been noticing and asking her out; sneaking glances at her and noticing her noticing you; being patient while she works out how she feels; looking super hot while doing it all. And their relationship is real to me, too — I’ve been the one hiding, and I’ve been the one hidden. Both are awful and exciting at the same time. And I’ve been them in the last episode — confident, out, happy, in love. Well, minus the possession, of course. So far.
Photo courtesy of SyFy. Swoon.
One of my favorite things about these characters, though, is the fact that they don’t just exist for each other, especially Nicole. That was a pattern that Buffy fell into with Tara — at least until after she and Willow broke up. None of Willow’s friends knew her girlfriend (or wanted to, really). All they knew was that she liked Willow. Granted, that was enough for them, but as viewers, it really cheapened the character for us and made her less real. Well, not so much for Officer Haught. Her bonding and fighting with Wynonna while Waverly and her friends had girly “fun” time was so great and really added dimension to both characters. And her interactions with Doc and Dolls in the finale (and when she pulled Doc over for speeding) fleshed her character out even more.
It’s almost like a lesbian can exist on a TV show as a character in and of herself, not just to further a main character’s storyline. Like, maybe I am a fully functioning human with my own purpose and am not just on this earth to make the straight people’s lives more interesting. A novel concept.
Even though I connect so strongly with these two ladies, Wynonna Earp would be nothing without Wynonna herself. And Melanie Scrofano kills it. She’s so amazing. The entire cast is perfect, like I said, and and if you take one piece of this intricate structure away, it would all fall apart, but Wynonna is the cornerstone. She’s just so…real. Her reactions, her interactions, how she feels, what she does, who she starts as and who she becomes — all of it. And it’s so expertly played. She’s so flawed and also so perfect. She’s all of us. And Melanie makes us feel it all.
Let me just finish up with a few words about the creators of this masterpiece. Wynonna Earp is based on a comic book by Beau Smith, a fellow West Virginian. I haven’t read any of the comics yet, but the old ones (that the show is loosely based on) are on my wish list. And Friday, I came home to my wife greeting me at the door with “Hi. I got you a surprise,” and this was on the table.
Best wife ever.
They didn’t have issue 1 (and she liked two of the covers for issue 3, so she bought them both), so I have to wait a few weeks for the first one to come in before I read them. Well, I should wait. I honestly can’t believe I haven’t torn through them yet.
And finally, the show runner, majestic unicorn Emily Andras. I was a fan of her work from Lost Girl, so I had high hopes. I could blather on and on and on about how awesome she seems, from (obviously) this amazing show she helped create to her interesting, engaging interviews to her weird obsession with cheese, but I won’t. I’ll only say this. The lesbians of the fandom got very, very nervous because we were worried that our precious queer characters were in danger of death because they were, well, queer.
Well, Emily took to AfterEllen to calm us the hell down and say that she had no plans of killing either of our beautiful non-unicorns this season. And we collectively breathed a gay sigh of relief and fell a little harder for this show. We’ve been burned before, Emily (see above), but you made us feel like we could commit without fear of it breaking our hearts. I packed up my metaphorical U-haul after I read that interview, and I haven’t looked back since.
And the finale aired, and it make our hearts soar! Love wins! This is amazing. And — oh, shit. WHAT HAPPENS NOW?!
Literal fandom train of thought.
Unicorn, not a lesbian. Maybe. I don’t know their life.
[Okay, we are back to just mild spoilers now. Safe to pick it back up. Welcome back!]
So, thank you, Wynonna Earp, for all of the above. For being that show that the LGBTQ community didn’t know we wanted but now absolutely know that we needed; for so completely filling every 44 minutes with perfection; for giving us honest, true, flawed heroes and villains that captivate us. Thank you for giving us this show, these characters, these storylines. The writing. The jokes! And even stupid Carl.
On a personal level, thank you for stoking a wave of creativity I haven’t felt in years. I’m writing more than I have in ages (blogging, tweeting, interacting online, and everything else), and it’s so appreciated. It’s making the rest of my life better — making me better.
I hope that there’s a season 2 (and a season 3-10), but nothing will touch this special first season. From what it did for a fandom, a community, and for all of us individually, that’s lightning in a bottle that won’t ever be replicated. But I can’t wait to see how season 2 will make it better.