Saturday, April 1, 2023

Pride Month Character Spotlight: Waverly Earp

TELEVISIONPride Month Character Spotlight: Waverly Earp

Welcome to the fourth article in our Pride series for the month of June! Each day we will be highlighting a different LGBTQ+ character who we think is a great example of representation, dynamic characterization, and overall badassery. Check out the rest of the series here.

I’d heard rumors that Wynonna Earp was a pretty socially progressive show long before I checked out the first season on Netflix. So, what I expected to watch was some already established gay characters in this fantastical universe. What I did not expect was to watch the awesome genesis of Waverly Earp’s sexual awakening play out as part of the story line.

I think what struck me was how organic it all happened. When the show begins, Waverly is already involved with Champ, an overzealous “dudebro” just itching for a smack in the mouth. She only has eyes for him (but why??) until she meets Nicole Haught, the new police officer in the town of Purgatory. From the moment they clasp hands across the old wooden bar at local pub Shorty’s, it is love at first sight. This is both a testimate to both Katherine Barrell (Nicole) and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Waverly) who have from the very start put a lot of heart into these characters, and to the fantastic writing on the show. You shipped them immediately and as you watched their romance play out, only fall more in love with their love.

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Interestingly enough, from the very start, the team producing Wynonna Earp – from the showrunner Emily Andras, to the cast, to the crew – have made a concentrated effort to engage with their fandom in order to make sure they were portraying all featured sexualities accurately and responsibly. They even made very clear that they were not going to fall into the trope that so many other genre shows have – to “bury your gays”. They actually put out a statement on social media saying that both Waverly and Nicole were going to survive the first season. In the very last episode of the first season Officer Haught is shot, but it turns out she was wearing a bullet proof vest – and it’s a clear nod to how often genre shows have killed off their minority characters.

Whether or not Waverly is firmly in the bisexual camp (as in, she might later on also be attracted to men) or if Champ was her swan-song dudebro and she’s on the good ship Lady Love from on, hardly seems to matter. Waverly is a damn ray of sunshine, and while the show certainly centers around the romance between her and Office Haught, her actual defined sexuality is more of a footnote. She doesn’t need to have a conversation about labels with anyone that she loves – she lets the people that matter know that she’s with Nicole, and that’s all she felt she needed to do. It’s perhaps in this that she’s one of the most realistic portrayals of coming out I’ve ever seen.

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Wynonna Earp is, even outside of the character of Waverly, a fantastic example of a show that not only succeeds in portraying different sexualities, but also boasts a diverse cast. The third season of Wynonna Earp premieres July 20th, and you’ll find the second season on Netflix June 10th. (The first season is on Netflix now.) It’s absolutely worth the watch if you’re looking for a genre show with excellent representation, clever writing, and a cast and crew that love their fandom.

Do you have a character spotlight suggestion? Leave it in the comments down below!

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