In recent years, audiovisual offers, especially television series, have multiplied the presence of richer and more varied LGBTI + characters, far from the stereotypes and ridicules that they used to represent not too long ago. However, there is still a long way to go to have the presence of characters that help « normalize » and give visibility to this group in a fair and respectful way, hence the emergence of terms such as « queebaiting », that is, « LGBTI + claim « .
Sometimes the « theme » LGTBI + is used as a claim, instead of being a reality
This concept, born in social networks, refers to the presence of « baits » or « deceptions », especially in television fictions, for LGBTI + people in order to show off queer content that did not really exist. That is to say, on many occasions, some productions had certain characters that generated a certain homoerotic subtext as bait, in order to attract the public to, finally, not give them what they apparently promised: an LGBTI + relationship with which, in a way , the group could feel identified. That, or even offering what the fans asked for, such as a declaration of love, a kiss or the beginning of a relationship, which quickly ended with the death of one of the members of the couple.
Since the term « queerbaiting » began to be used, there have been quite a few examples of « LGBTI + claim » that fans of different series have detected and criticized in their favorite fictions. In fact, there have been some especially notorious cases on social networks: one of the most recent, for example, has been that of Castiel and Dean Winchester, characters from ‘Supernatural’ whose relationship has always excited many of the fans, but what that it has lacked a satisfactory ending to them. With this as one of the examples of « queerbaiting » present in television fictions, In FormulaTV we collect some of them, which at the time (or years later) caused quite a stir among their fans.
1 Xena and Gabrielle in ‘Xena the Warrior Princess’
Gabrielle (Renée O’Connor) and Xena (Lucy Lawless) in ‘Xena the Warrior Princess’
In the 90s, viewers were able to enjoy the series ‘Xena: the warrior princess’, whose protagonist, played by Lucy Lawless, marked an entire generation with the interpretation of the famous warrior. Over six seasons, from 1995 to 2001, Xena became a phenomenon with her adventures, in which she had the company of Gabrielle (Renée O’Connor). The close relationship between the two women led many viewers to consider their sexual orientation as bisexual or lesbian, at a time when the representation of LGBTI + characters was practically nil.
Although some may object to what was, clearly, something more than a friendship despite lacking kisses or more intimate moments, the truth is that even O’Connor herself declared in 2008, in an interview for AfterEllen , what « It was very evident that they were together. » « They were so in love with each other, there is no way to say that was not true. Anyone who was a fan of the series can see it. »stated the actress, something her partner more than agreed with in an interview for Daily Mail in 2019. In fact, Lawlees noted that, once they made sure that both characters were a couple, although it was not shown in a explicitly, this caused the characters to « settle. »
The decision not to openly show the love relationship was due, as revealed in 2016 by the co-creator of the series, Rob Tapert, to alleged pressure from NBC executives. « The studio was so concerned with it being perceived as a lesbian series that they didn’t allow Xena and Gabrielle to share any frames at the head « , recognized the also executive producer of the fiction. » We were very aware that we could do a lot because it was a series on national television. But every time Rob tried to stretch the limits as much as he could, he had to work at the same time within certain guidelines, « said Reneé, corroborating his words in an interview for Entertainment Weekly and thus confirming that the protagonists maintained a love affair that could never be shown openly in fiction.
2 Dean and Castiel in ‘Supernatural’
Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Castiel (Misha Collins) in ‘Supernatural’
In 2008, the popular series ‘Supernatural’ premiered its fourth season, in which Castiel, an angel played by actor Misha Collins, was seen for the first time. His popularity soon gave him a permanent place in the series, where the curious character ended up starring in many moments of closeness with Dean Winchester, one of the protagonists, by Jensen Ackles. Since then, eleven more seasons have passed in which both characters have starred in intimate and unforgettable moments that, while for some they were a mere friendship, for many others they were proof that there was something more between the two and that Dean was not only a flirt with women, but was bisexual.
With the premiere of the fifteenth and final season, many fans of the series still hoped that Dean and Castiel would finally establish a full-fledged love relationship after so many years together, caring for each other in ways that, if it was a heterosexual couple, it is most likely that their story would have ended with the couple together. However, The final stretch of ‘Supernatural’ left fans more than disappointed when, in November 2020, the third-to-last episode of the series aired: in it, Castiel finally confessed his true feelings towards a confused Dean, to almost immediately after, die to save him.
This movement, far from satisfying the followers and being something more than a « fan service », confirmed a queerbaiting that had been taking place in fiction for years, where the relationship between both protagonists has been fed without showing any LGBTI + aspect that already had a firm foundation, given the chemistry that was generated between Dean and Castiel and the different experiences they lived together. « So Castiel makes his homosexual declaration of love and then dies, which falls back into the perennial Hollywood cliché of ‘killing gays’. We give it to you, and then we take it from you, » even Collins himself protested, at the DarkLight Online Convention, according to PopBuzz.
3 Arthur and Merlin in ‘Merlin’
Arthur (Bradley James) and Merlin (Colin Morgan) in ‘Merlin’
At the end of September 2008, the BBC premiered the series ‘Merlin’, focusing on the relationship between a young Merlin (Colin Morgan) and the heir to the Camelot throne Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James). Since then, both characters have starred in a series of adventures in which the former struggled to hide his gift with magic while protecting the latter at all costs. A relationship in which both exchanged those protective roles, at the same time that they were strengthening their relationship and breaking down the preconceptions that they had harbored about each other throughout five seasons, until it ended in 2012.
The fact that the close relationship between the protagonists was the main axis of the series was a claim for his followers, some of whom did not take long to see that there was something more between the two characters, although it was never shown in ‘Merlin’ and, in fact, both had the occasional heterosexual relationship throughout it. However, with the release of the complete series on DVD in 2013, Julian Murphy, showrunner of the production, confirmed that the relationship between the two had gone beyond friendship, towards « pure » love, something they had wanted to capture in the denouement, when Merlin has to face the death of Arthur.
« Actually, we conceive the episode as a love story between two men. What it is, jokes and innuendo aside, « admitted Murphy, adding that » you can’t deny that Merlin and Arthur love each other. Either way you want to think, it can’t be denied. « In fact, many fans related the fact that Merlin was hiding his magic from Pendragon in the same way that he was hiding his homosexual orientation, something Murphy referred to, assuring that » in magic is not metaphorical in this program at any level « , something that was not at all clear as Katie McGrath (in charge of giving life to Morgana), who accompanied the showrunner, pointed out that » I do not feel that you are being sincere « . A comment that could indicate that, consciously or unconsciously, that secret would have been a kind of allegory, which did not detract from the fact that queerbaiting has been present throughout the entire series.
4 Rachel and Quinn in ‘Glee’
Rachel (Lea Michele) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) in ‘Glee’
In May 2009, Fox premiered the musical youth series ‘Glee’, which became a phenomenon throughout its six broadcast seasons, until it concluded in 2015. Among its many characters, we could find Rachel (Lea Michele ) and Quinn (Dianna Agron), whose rivalry was more than evident from the start, as were their confrontations, even when the two barely mattered in season one. However, despite the fact that their relationship did not have a special role, they penetrated among the fans, getting their support to be reflected in the second season, when both had more presence.
Although ‘Glee’ did have the presence of Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera) as an explicit homosexual relationship, the truth is that Many fans also began to see a certain « feeling » between Quinn and Rachel, which went beyond the closeness that emerged between them over time., despite their almost continuous conflicts. In fact, The two also went so far as to comfort each other at certain times, in one of which Rachel came to recognize that Quinn was the « prettiest girl » she had ever known.. However, far from exploiting that relationship in a positive way to give more visibility to the LGBTI + collective, ‘Glee’ chose to leave things as they were between the two characters, without showing great gestures of affection between the two, despite the good chemistry they had in the eyes of many of the fiction fans.
5 Watson and Holmes in ‘Sherlock’
Watson (Martin Freeman) and Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) in ‘Sherlock’
The summer of 2010 brought with it the broadcast of ‘Sherlock’ on the BBC, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the roles of the mythical Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. A modern version of the mythical researcher created by Arthur Conan Doyle, in which the chemistry between the two protagonists was evident in the eyes of many of his followers, especially when both showed a concern for the other that sometimes seemed to go beyond what perhaps a simple friendship could offer, both on the part of the hermetic and eccentric Holmes, as well as on the part of the more amiable and expressive Watson.
However, the relationship between the two, although close, has never gone beyond an apparent friendship and, apparently, never will: Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, creators of the series, have repeatedly denied that there was even a love relationship between Watson and Holmes. « The whole world wants to believe that Holmes is gay. But he is not. And it is very clear that Dr. Watson prefers women. If people want to fantasize about it, great, but that is not something that is in the series », declared Moffat in 2015, unlike Freeman, who defined ‘Sherlock’ as « the gayest series in history », something that its creator did not share at all.
« You’ve been saying for over 100 years that you are not interested in sex. Voluntarily, he stays away to keep his brain, out of pure Victorian belief, « Steven defended, speaking of Sherlock. In fact, Cumberbatch supported the theory that the protagonist was » asexual, he does not look for anything « . » I think perhaps in him past came out scalded. Also, he knows that he cannot defeat female intuition. So avoid getting entangled in a situation where he could be enslaved through adoration or sexual desire, or any kind of love chemistry that could pose a great risk to him, « the interpreter bet in 2015. Statements that did not remove the fact that, although the series had a certain queerbaiting by offering moments of complicity between the two characters that did not explicitly reach anything, when perhaps it would not have been the case if it had been a heterosexual couple.
6 Maura and Jane in ‘Rizzoli & Isles’
Maura (Sasha Alexander) and Jane (Angie Harmon) in ‘Rizzoli & Isles’
« Rizzoli & Isles » landed on TNT in July 2010, with Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander leading the cast in the roles of Detective Jane Rizzoli and Coroner Maura Isles. A duo that had to face different cases throughout a series that lasted seven seasons, in which both gave very good moments together to their followers. Some of them, in fact, considered their love relationship canon thanks to the chemistry that both actresses managed to create during the scenes, even when the two had heterosexual relationships, although not all with precisely the same chemistry that could be perceived between them.
The fanaticism for the couple did not go unnoticed by the production team, to the point that, while in 2013 Harmon downplayed the desire of some followers to see both protagonists together, Alexander did the opposite and added some fuel to the fire. « Their relationship could be sexual one day … who knows? »declared Sasha in 2018, for Advocate, while Angie defended that « if we are gay or straight, it does not matter. We are all women. The same wonderful situations happen to us, the same horrible situations. They all break our hearts. » For his part, Jan Nash, fiction showrunner, defended on TVGuide in 2016 the fact that the end of the series, with Jane and Maura single, did not exactly mean that both ended up together, but rather that it showed that they were « strong women « that they could go their way totally alone.
7 Emma and Regina in ‘Once Upon a Time’
Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) in ‘Once Upon a Time’
In late 2011, ABC released the series ‘Once Upon a Time’ based on children’s stories, where Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) were part of the main axis of the story, in which both began their journey as declared enemies: the first was in charge of breaking the spell with which the Evil Queen kept her enemies in the « real world ».. Not to mention the fact that, in addition, Emma’s arrival in Storybrooke, the city where Regina lived, threatened to destroy her relationship with her adopted son, Henry (Jared Gilmore), whose biological mother was the newcomer. .
This starting point, so complicated, did not prevent that, throughout the series, the relationship between the two women became closer, especially as a result of the love that the two felt for Henry. Their development throughout history even led them to exchange their roles, generating great trust and intimacy between them in the midst of a tug of war in which, in addition, the fact that they were both mothers of the same child was added. More than enough reasons for many fans to bet on a romantic relationship between both characters, something that was never shown in the series beyond the support they ended up showing and the close situations they shared, to the point of even fighting one for the other. other.
Such has been the scope of this « ship » that both Morrison and Padilla have shown their support on numerous occasions., especially through social networks, where they have even used the hashtag #SwanQueen with which fans identify the couple. On the other hand, those in charge of the fiction have bet many times for a simple friendship, proof of the queerbaiting that can be perceived around them throughout the seven seasons that it lasts. Something that may be perceived in other characters with potential, such as the duo formed by Aurora (Sarah Bolger) and Mulán (Jamie Chung), which also caught the attention of some fans due to the especially close and loving relationship between both characters.
8 Clarke and Lexa in ‘The 100’
Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in ‘The 100’
In 2016, ‘The 100’ reached its third season with its post-apocalyptic story based on the novel by Kass Morgan. In the middle of the drama we find the lesbian couple formed by Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), each of them the leader of one of the groups that are part of the plot, whose sexual tension had already been perceived by many in the previous season, where it was resolved with a brief kiss. However, the third season made it clear that, although this relationship was canon, its duration was not going to be long: Lexa ended up dying when she got in the way of a bullet that was going directly towards Clarke.
This event generated great outrage among fans of the series, some of whom were not satisfied with the clarification that the end of the powerful character, who seemed to promise so much, was due more to technical reasons, since for Debman it was impossible to work in ‘The 100’ at the same time as in ‘Fear The Walking Dead’, where he was one of its protagonists. « [Alycia] only seven episodes were available to us. And then it was possible that it would never be again « , explained in an interview to Entertainment Weekly, Jason Rothenberg, creator of ‘The 100’. » So, as a narrator and showrunner I needed to weigh that with the story that we are telling. I think we’re telling an amazing story, but the decision to kill that character was made easier by the fact that we knew we weren’t going to be able to work with Alycia anymore. I hope people can forgive me. But if not, I will understand, « added Rothenberg.
Regardless, the fact that many stories of LGBTI + couples have ended badly throughout the history of television (and other entertainment) didn’t help to avoid thinking about the hated queerbaiting, given the fleetingness with which the relationship between Clarke and Lexa had been treated. Complaints from fans prompted Debnam to encourage fans to continue betting on ‘The 100’, since « it’s a great series. » « It already was before I arrived, and it keeps getting better. I feel very lucky to have been part of it. I think it deserves the support. Generating that reaction in people, for better or for worse, is something incredible. So, if the series makes you feel like this, why stop watching it? They are a wonderful group of people and they don’t deserve to be abandoned, « said the actress, for Variety, who also was surprised by « the intensity and fury of the fans » and opted to direct attention to the LGBTI + movement « to keep moving forward ».
9 Keith and Shiro in ‘Voltron’
Keith and Shiro in ‘Voltron’
‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’, a Netflix animated series that premiered in 2016, perhaps made the big mistake of selling itself as a story in which at least one openly gay character was counted, which for some was quite a claim. In the middle of a plot in which five young pilots fought to save the galaxy with the help of five lions that formed the powerful robot Voltron, the spectators ran into Shiro, a man who left his partner, Adam, behind to undertake this mission with his partners. After many comings and goings, suffering, joys and adventures, the protagonists returned to an Earth that had been attacked by their enemies, at which point it is discovered that Adam was sadly among those killed in the battle.
Such was the anger of the fans that, in fact, Joaquim Dos Santos was forced to publish an extensive open letter in 2018 on his Twitter account, in which he apologized for what happened with Adam, collected in the seventh season. « If someone, for some reason, brought out from this season that our intention was to queerbaiting the ‘Voltron’ fandom, I would like to personally apologize. I can only say that our intention was not to bait anyone. I know it is no consolation, but it is the truth « , confessed Dos Santos, who pointed out that » we created this whole series around the themes of sacrifice and loss and, at the end of the day, we have to take responsibility for our decisions creative. « The director accepted his mistake and, in fact, was optimistic that the audience demanded to debate what they had captured, since it was » something incredibly positive and a lesson that we will learn in the future. «
Beyond the unjust death of Adam, this was joined by other complaints of blatant queerbaiting in the eyes of many followers, present throughout the production: perhaps Adam’s death would serve to bring Shiro and Keith closer, another of the protagonists, whose relationship had developed over the seasons, but this did not happen either. Both characters had shown to care and love the other, for many beyond friendship, something that could have evolved throughout the series with a solid foundation. However, both characters ended the series taking separate paths, which were shown in a brief summary at the end of the season: in it we could see, just for a few seconds, how Shiro ended up marrying another, unknown man.
To this was also added the discontent of another part of the fandom, which had found potential in another relationship that had developed throughout history: the one that centered on Keith and Lance.. Although both characters began facing each other, given how different their characters were, the truth is that many saw the potential for them to end up being something more than friends throughout the seasons. Something that, finally, was not fulfilled despite the chemistry that the characters had to end up together in the eyes of many followers, and that ended with the two characters totally estranged in the last minutes of the end of production.
10 Betty and Veronica in ‘Riverdale’
Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) in ‘Riverdale’
Based on the « Archie » comics, ‘Riverdale’ debuted on The CW in 2017, centered on a group of teenagers in the middle of a town where they all seem to hide dark secrets under an image of false perfection, in the middle of the mysterious disappearance of Jason Blossom. Among them were Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), part of the main group, who in the pilot episode they starred in a kiss in front of the cheerleading team, just as you could see, perhaps, a certain sexual tension between them.
However, far from nurturing that relationship, the two were « separated » to end up paired with the two male leads, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Archie (K.J. Apa). Along with disappointment, one of the things that generated the most controversy of the kiss scene was that, although it was presented in the episode as an innocent scene, without major repercussions on the plot, ended up included in the trailer of the series, thus casting the bait on something that did not really exist in the production, thus being a very clear example of shameless queerbaiting: a way to draw the attention of the LGBTI + public to something that was not really going to develop at any time.
Added to this are other examples throughout the seasons: Although the series brought together Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) in the second season, their dates did not have as much presence like the cases of straight couples like Archie and Veronica, but they are also rarely seen together in a romantic scene. In addition, the production increased the indignation of many fans when Joaquin (Rob Raco) ended up kissing Archie, in the third season, at a moment of certain closeness. A gesture that the second immediately rejected and that, again, was used as part of the trailer for the fifth episode, as a form of complaint, so some fans bet that Archie could be bisexual, something far from what the production ended up showing . In fact, When seeing the image out of context, some other fan even commented that Joaquín and Archie had kissed « the same number of times » on screen that, unfortunately, Cheryl and Toni.