A badass heroine, a whipsmart spitfire of a sister, a handsome lawman, an ambiguous and mysterious baddie, demons, motorcycles, and a fringed leather jacket? C’mon, what more could you want?
Actually, since I rhetorically asked, I’ll tell you. I’m a list maker, like that Go Go’s song you’re probably too young to remember, and I make lists of junk I want to buy when I have the money, lists of the people I’ve fooled around with, lists of goals long and short; and I think like most people, list makers or not, I carry around a mental checklist of what my ideal entertainment would look like. First, it would be serialized television, that’s a given. It is long form in a way that allows for world building and character growth that film simply can’t accommodate. I’m a TV person all the way.
It would be centered on women. Though my gender is as fluid as running water, I was socialized female and relate to women in a way that men just don’t do it for me. Though the exceptional girl in a world of men can be aspirational—Peggy Carter, Liv Moore, looking at you both—I ultimately end up finding her unrelatable. My world doesn’t look like that. My world is bursting with dynamic fascinating women, and I like my media the same way. All these years later, and the Bechdel Test is still a cornerstone of feminist media criticism for a reason: because fictional worlds built around women are still far too rare. Give me women talking to each other, loving each other in ways familiar, platonic, and romantic too. Women bonding and fighting and making up and having each other’s backs.
And these women, they would have problems, messy lives and bad choices and baggage. They would—to borrow from a song that was popular when both Buffy Summers and I were teenagers—get knocked down, but they’d get right back up again. They would fight monsters, literal and figurative, and face seemingly insurmountable Big Bads, and they would win, because watching them fight and win makes it easier to face our own monsters and Big Bads.
And they’d do their fighting and loving and living in worlds that are recognizable, and similar to our own, in blue jeans and leather jackets and solid boots meant for shit-kicking. Because I’m not a princess or a knight and I’ve never lived in a castle or an enchanted forest, and I want to look at these fierce women and see some of myself because it makes it easier to imagine, then, that their bravery is mine too.
And my world, it’s not just blue jeans and boots and complex women; it’s people working real jobs to get by, and still struggling anyway. I’m a working class rust-belt fella through and through, and there are less than a handful of shows I can think of that I’ve watched that treated people with my background as anything other than punchlines. So that would definitely be on my list, real salt of the earth types coming home with dirty fingernails at the end of the day.
And my friends, most of them aren’t straight, and they’re not all white. My world is multiracial, multiethnic, international, multi-gendered, and sexual and asexual in myriad ways. My world is a microcosm of the world we all share, and that again is a world I so rarely see reflected.
And yet, in one episode Wynonna Earp managed to check off nearly every box on my list (with showrunner promises to tick off the LGBTQIA+ inclusive box soon as well) and did it in a way that was so full of heart that my own was near to bursting.
I follow writers and showrunners rather than actors—actors are chameleons by trade and enjoying an actor in one role means near nothing to how I’ll feel about their next one—but writers and show showrunners are artists in that they leave their style splashed all over their work.
I followed Ben Edlund to Supernatural and for a while that tickled the scratch that the absence of the Buffyverse on TV left behind, till eventually, for me, the bad outweighed the good, and then I drifted. I fell in love with Lost Girl but by then it was near the end, then followed Michelle Lovretta to Killjoys which won my heart and loyalty by episode 4 in a way few shows have before. I then followed Emily Andras from her work with Lovretta on Lost Girl and Killjoys over to our new heroine Ms Earp, and one episode in and I’m already just as in love with her as I ever was with Bo Dennis or Dutch.
Andras has, without question, struck a chord here, and from the reactions I saw on Twitter, I’m not the only one to feel this way. With Wynonna Earp, she’s blessed us with the wild west spirit of the dearly departed Firefly and Defiance, the complex sibling relationships of Killjoy‘s Jaqobis brothers, with a heroine that could go toe-to-toe with Dutch any day and a kid sister just as fierce and adorable as Our Queen of Perpetual Perfection, Kenzi Malikov. Wynonna is Faith Lehane all grown up and returning to Sunnydale to make things right. She’s Sarah Manning, finally done running away to save a sister she barely knows. She is vulnerable and fucked up and shines with so much love you can feel every ounce of her pain.
Do you love Supernatural for the sibling bonds and the demon filled mythos? Watch Wynonna Earp. Do you sagely nod along with that Joss Whedon quote about strong female characters? Watch Wynonna Earp. Do you miss Kenzi and Bo? Can’t wait for Killjoys S2? Angry that Defiance had so much more to give us? Watch Wynonna Earp. I promise, just go: watch Wynonna Earp.
About the Author: Jay Jaqobis is sometimes Jessi Bow Spence and frequently just Jessi but also sometimes Jay and will respond to any of the above, and also “Hey, you with the face.” Ze lives in the midwest with a cis dude spouse and the world’s greatest dog and does a mean impression of a housewife while battling agoraphobia and general bouts of ennui. Ze cofounded GenreTVForAll and wrote a chapter on Teenage Girls with Superpowers for the Geekiary’s e-book. Ze likes vegan food, pictures of shih tzus, and long naps. You can find zir on twitter and instagram.