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How ‘The Magicians’ Fell Into the Same Old Trap

As a young, gay man, I crave positive representation in media. I want to see happy, queer people like me on television more than anything. I really thought SyFy’s The Magicians could do that for me. It looked like they were setting up a queer relationship between two main characters. Two of the show’s feature characters, Eliot and Quentin, had fallen in love in a timeline that didn’t actually happen, but they remembered it (sounds confusing I know, but if you’re a fan of the show, you get it.)

The show gave us a taste of a happy, queer relationship. They showed Quentin asking Eliot out after they remembered their history, and Eliot rejecting him. But they also showed that Eliot regretted that and wanted to rectify his choice. The writers and showrunners were promoting the couple, and fans were excited. Unfortunately, Eliot spent almost all of season four possessed by a monster. He got one scene with Quentin in the whole season. When the finale aired, I had a lot of hope. I was so sure Quentin and Eliot would reunite, maybe even kiss.

What I ended up getting was the worst-case scenario; a mentally ill, bisexual man’s death used as a cheap shock.

The showrunners made the choice to kill Quentin seemingly without thought about their queer fans. They took this character, one who both mentally ill and queer fans could relate to, from us. They gave us hope of seeing a happy, healthy queer relationship between two main characters on mainstream television and squashed it like a bug.

I have never been so angry at a TV show. I feel betrayed by the writers and showrunners. I had heard rumors that the finale was sad, and we knew someone would die but, I didn’t think my favorite show would resort to the tired old ‘bury your gays’ trope.

I almost feel dumb for hoping, but it was fueled by the showrunners promoting this couple. The showrunners were cruel without realizing it when they hyped up this couple. The worst part is, they think they were being “subversive” in the choice to kill Quentin. They wanted a show where even the white male wasn’t safe, but failed to grasp that Quentin was a representation for both queer and mentally ill fans, and that, in fact, killing a queer, mentally ill character is one of the least subversive tropes out there.

I have seen it happen far too many times, and every time is more upsetting. The fact they made us think Eliot and Quentin would get a happy ending together was careless.

They didnt think about the way this kind of death effects fans, especially fans who finally got to see someone like themselves on TV.

In the upcoming season, I worry about Eliot. I don’t know how he will cope. In the past, losing someone he loved left him broken. I almost don’t want to see how much worse it is with someone he lived 50 years with. I see myself in him more than any character in the past. I want to see him happy, because it makes me feel like I have a chance of being happy. Seeing him lose someone he loved hurts me a lot.

Quentin meant so much to me as a queer viewer. He represented the fact that you could be a mentally ill, queer person and still have a full life. The prospect of Eliot and Quentin having a relationship is what got me into this show. The Magicians could have had something rarely seen on television, but they ended up with an old trope seen far too often. I am beyond tired of seeing this trope. You never think your favorite show will resort to bury your gays for shock value. It’s extremely disappointing when they do. I don’t know if I will watch season five after this heartbreaking finale.