It’s a Sin creator Russell T. Davies has no time for lackluster attempts at inclusion from big-name media companies!
Last month, we spoke about representation when Loki, the titular character from Marvel Studios’ latest original series Loki on Disney +, seemingly announced his queerness. Several media outlets praised the show for including Loki’s bisexual and gender-fluid identities into the show’s storyline and opening up much-needed conversations regarding LGBTQ+ representation in the media.
However, Russel T. Davies has another opinion — he has no time for these “feeble gestures”, according to Out Magazine. The acclaimed screenwriter and television producer, who is also known for the original British Queer As Folk series, sat down for a virtual YouTube discussion with actress, advocate and ally Jill Nalder (the inspiration behind the character Jill in It’s a Sin) for Swansea University, in which he called out big name streaming services (mentioning Loki by name) for offering the LGBTQ+ community the bare minimum in terms of clear, explicit and deliberate queer representation.
In the third episode of the first season, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is having a conversation with Lady Loki, who goes by the name Sylvie, about past romantic partners.
“So, on the subject of love, is there a lucky beau waiting for you at the end of this crusade?” Loki asks.
“Yeah there is, actually,” says Sylvie. “I managed to maintain quite a serious long-distance relationship with a postman whilst running across time from one apocalypse to another.”
A few minutes later, Sylvie turns the question around to Loki and asks, “How about you? You’re a prince. Must have been would-be-princesses. Or perhaps another prince?”
Loki responds, “A bit of both. I suspect the same as you. But nothing ever–”
“–real.” Sylvie finishes.
Loki’s sexuality is then never mentioned again or expanded upon at any other point during the season. This is the reason that Davies is challenging instances like these as only small steps in the larger fight for LGBTQ+ representation on screen.
“Nonetheless, I think huge, cleaning warning bells are ringing as the giants rise up with Netflix and Disney+ especially,” Davies said. “I think that’s a very great worry. Loki makes one reference to being bisexual once, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god, it’s like a pansexual show.’ It’s like one word. He said the word ‘prince,’ and we’re meant to go, ‘Thank you, Disney! Aren’t you marvelous?'”
He continued: “It’s a ridiculous, craven, feeble gesture towards the vital politics and the stories that should be told.”
Davies definitely has a point. If these media companies and streaming services are doing these things only to get diversity and inclusion points, then they need to be a little bit more deliberate in the way they present LGBTQ characters.
However, I think one could also say that maybe these companies are approaching gender and sexuality from a fluid standpoint. The ideas of gender fluidity and pansexualism are rightfully being discussed both within and outside the LGBTQ community. My first thought was that shows and films, such as Loki and Jungle Cruise, were seeking to not pigeonhole characters into one particular gender expression or sexual orientation, but rather leave the door open for interpretation to validate all queer identities along the spectrum.
Nevertheless, Davies is right in saying that the LGBTQ community still deserves more than these little bits of representation we’re being served. The queer community is vast, and we deserve to be represented this way. Yes, many of us choose not to wear labels, but some of us do. Also, we deserve to see fully realized LGBTQ characters on screen, and not just have their sexuality or gender identity reduced to a single scene or line.
Maybe Disney +, Netflix and other streaming services should reach out to Davies to help produce meaningful LGBTQ+ content. Judging by the recent success of It’s a Sin, they may just be glad they did.
Watch Swansea University’s conversation with ‘It’s a Sin’s’ Russell T Davies and Jill Nalder, and discuss your thoughts in our comments section!