Wynonna Earp

earpAround the middle of May, my friend M. texted me.

“I’m just going to tell you that I am obsessed with Wynonna Earp.”

A lot of my friendship with M. centers on comics, and we had talked about whether we might watch the show in the months before it premiered, if only because it was being heavily advertised in the books we were both reading.

M. thought that the original comic hadn’t been that impressive and so she wasn’t terribly excited for the show. After that we didn’t really talk about it, so I was surprised when I got her text. I know M. well enough to know that if she likes something it’s generally worth checking, so as soon as I got home I fired up Amazon streaming and tucked into the available episodes. I’ll be honest, the opening scene didn’t really grab me. But as the first episode went on I was hooked. I watched the rest of episodes over the course of the next few days I got through the first seven episodes. Then I called M.

“Are you up to date on Wynonna Earp.”

“Yeah. Now I have to wait for the new episode like a peasant.”

True enough, but now we each had something to look forward to on Friday night.

Friday after Friday the show got better and better, and when the credits rolled on Episode 13 M. and I agreed that the people running the show had created a real brilliancy. If only Syfy would have the sense to renew it.

“They’re sending the cast to Comic-Con,” M. assured me. “They wouldn’t be doing that unless they were going to renew it.” I wasn’t sure I entirely shared her confidence, but you couldn’t deny the logic of her position. In the meantime both of us started embracing the world of Wynonna Earp fan culture, especially on Twitter.  I think the first thing that either of us discovered was Oblivious Wynonna (@ObliviousWyn) which is still my favorite of the (many) Twitter feeds out there. As things went on I think we both felt more and more ingrained in the fan community as we (and everyone else) waited to see if Syfy would do the right thing. And, to all of our collective relief, they did.

This is a show that I think more people should be watching. And maybe people who know me will be surprised by this. Well, I thought I might talk about some of the reasons that I love this show, and maybe that will convince some more people to get on the team here.

1. Wynonna. She’s one of those rare figures in modern popular culture: a young woman who takes charge of her own agency. She doesn’t need a father, or a brother, or a boyfriend, or whoever to tell her what to do. She does her best to figure things out and then acts on that basis. Sometimes she makes mistakes. That’s ok. That means she’s human, not that she needs someone else telling her how she should live her life. She has control of her own sexuality as well. If she wants to sleep with Doc, she does. If she wants to sleep with Dolls, she does. And it’s not assumed that she has a capital “R” relationship with either one just because she did. If that happens it will be because both parties want and accept it. And if Wynonna wants to do something else, she will. This doesn’t mean she’s closed off from people. It just means that she wants to do things her way. Society doesn’t like this, from anybody really, but especially not from young women who are supposed to be in need of some sort of guidance and structure. As a character, Wynonna doesn’t give in to that narrative. At all. It’s refreshing.

2. WayHaught. Homosexuality is a thing. It’s normal. People just need to get over it. The community of nerds and scifi fans are no less given to homophobia than anyone else in American society. So it’s pretty cool to see a show in the scifi genre that just assumes this to be the case. The people running the show don’t feel the need to turn it into some kind of tortured passion play. Waverly and Haught are attracted to each other. They’re consenting adults and they act on their attractions. Full stop. There doesn’t need to be anything more to it than that, just two people who love each other. It’s nice to see a show for once treat this topic as if it were a part of normal human experience.

3. Bury the gays. Emily Andras should get the Nobel Peace Prize for the kick to the groin that she dealt this nauseating trope. I’ve got a piece on this topic brewing for Souciant.com, so I’m not going to say too much about it here. But it was nice that Emily Andras has assured the fans that neither Waverly nor Nicole were going to be killed off in the finale. So when Nicole caught a bullet in Episode 13, it was kind of cool in the sense that a) we all knew she was going to get back up, and b) the vast majority of the people watching the show knew that it was essentially a statement that being gay wasn’t going to be a death sentence (as it all too often is elsewhere).

4. The story-telling. In Wynonna Earp the pace of things can seem a little breathless, but that’s because they don’t really spend too much time on back story. They tell you things when they are necessary, but the people running the show see pretty confident in letting the viewers’ imaginations fill in the gaps unless it’s something that absolutely necessary to have nailed down. It’s all too easy for shows like this to get bogged down in the attempt to give the full background of every event. I think that show runners must feel like this makes for nuanced storytelling, but often it just seems to mire the narrative in unnecessary detail. Wynonna Earp preserves a lot of the feel of its comic book origins in the sense that it tells its story in discrete, manageable chunks. Also, they didn’t really bother with monster-of-the-week episodes, by and large anyway. Pretty much everything that happened moved the story forward and that did a lot to keep me feeling like a war rolling along with events.

5. This.

6. The fan community. I absolutely love Wynonna Earp fans. They’re sweet and funny and they are nice to each other. I must be hooked up on about twenty different Twitter feeds, from Wynonna Earp Fans, to Oblivious Wynonna, to Haught’s Handcuffs, to Doc’s Moustache, and many others, and pretty much every day I see something that makes me laugh. I heartily recommend the “Tales of the Black Badge” podcast anyone who wants to dig a little deeper. I guess one thing that I like in particular is that as a group, Wynonna Earp fans are inclusive. I’m a hetero white male. I see myself reflected everywhere in society, and it gets really boring. So it’s nice to be associated with a fan community in which queer friendliness is simply assumed. It’s nice not having to discuss it. And I don’t mean this in the kind of phoney way that a lot of people will say that they’re glad that they don’t have to talk about it because they’re frightened by difference and want to ignore it. I mean it in the sense that it’s just assumed to be a way that people are and it’s embraced by everybody.

I haven’t had many days lately quite as happy as the one when I found out that the show had been renewed. I was driving home from work when M. texted me with the news. She and another friend had been watching the Comic-Con session with the stars of the show on Periscope and let me know in real time. I really should have stopped for a coffee or something on the way home, because I knew that the announcement was happening then and, as it was, a nearly got in a car wreck through sheer joy. They got a ten episode run starting in Spring and I can wait to see what they do for an encore. Until then I’ll be reading Oblivious Wynonna tweets and revelling in the joy of my fellow Earpers.

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