Reader, I’m going to be brief with you. I can only express my rage so many times before it becomes something of a gimmick; I can only reiterate the same points too many times before they get stale.
You can’t keep yelling at your dog for peeing on the carpet. Eventually, you have to realize that your dog is just kind of dumb. And honestly, if you don’t catch him doing it, it’s not like the scolding is going to stick, anyway. Animals are funny like that.
So. Agents of SHIELD has introduced a gay character into their show. Joey Gutierrez, played by Latino actor Juan Pablo Raba. And while I’m sure SHIELD is expecting nothing but praise for their brave, brave decision to include one whole Gay™ in their show, there’s just one small, small problem.
I’ll disclose something to you, reader: I’m not watching SHIELD this season. Last season’s Agents of SHADE will forever stand as testament to what a broken spirit looks like, and I think that’s important, in its own way. However, due to my tendency to fall into rage blackouts, friends, the state of New York, and my own mother have asked me to refrain from watching this season.
And I am. On Tuesday, I watched From Dusk Till Dawn, the best show currently airing on television. I felt joy. I felt relief. I felt, as I have been feeling since I detoxed this horrible sludge of a show out of my life, at peace.
Until Logo had to go and ruin it all.
I’m not tuning back in, reader.
But I’m not letting this slide.
And while I understand why Logo is praising Agents of SHIELD for having a gay character, we all have to realize one crucial thing: no one at Logo has ever seen an episode of this horrible show in their lives.
I envy them for that.
So let’s nip this in the bud, shall we? Let’s get to the meat of the matter, and discuss why Joey himself is good, but Agents of SHIELD is inherently not.
Joey is an Original Character. He was made by the writers for the show. Victoria Hand and Isabelle Hartley are comics characters. They were canon in Marvel before the show was even a thought.
They are both canonical lesbians.
And the show, for all of it’s ‘coming out’ metaphors now, fully neglected to mention the sexual orientation of either in their show. Why? Well, they’d been planning to kill both of them from day one. And as showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen said, “We didn’t want to be known as the show that killed two lesbians.”
Is Joey an apology? Is Joey some kind of penance for earlier sins? Of course not. He's a praise machine. He is, for lack of a better word, pandering. (I'm sorry.) Because Agents of SHIELD is acutely aware that they've done wrong, and would like us, the queer audience, to return.
But they will never admit they did anything wrong. I can promise you that. And Marvel fans, for all their queer headcanons, would much rather discuss romantic relationships than ever bring up the very real and very terrible things that have happened to actual queer characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And I get it. I'm not always this sad and queer and angry. I like my headcanon too. But the fact of the matter is, no one is stepping up to the plate when it matters. And we absolutely have to.
Their deaths matter. I know no one wants to think they do. But the deaths of Victoria Hand and Isabelle Hartley matter. More than the insertion of an OC does. I’m sorry. We can’t ignore it.
Because this isn’t the of say, your carpet-peeing dog finally doing his business outside. This is that same dog, still peeing on the carpet, except this time, he wags his tail at you when he’s done. Maybe it’s because you’ve stopped yelling, maybe dogs really are that stupid. You’re not sure anymore. You’re just tired.
And honestly, dogs are adorable. Comparing the Agents of SHIELD writers to a dog is unfair to the entire species of majestic and noble creatures. I’m sorry, dogs.
I don’t know if Joey will make it through season three. Given that he’s both queer and a man of color, his Agents of SHIELD survival rate is very, very low. Will he continue the AoS tradition of a 100% queer kill rate? And why the hell is that a tradition to begin with?
I’ll tell you, reader. The writers really don’t care about queerness unless they can get praise for it. They tried to protect themselves, and they’ve failed. Because queer women and queer men and queer people of all genders are killed daily for their queerness. We know this. We know it because we fear it.
And guess what? We see it all the time on TV. Thanks, Agents of SHIELD. Thank you so much for the reminder of what queer people mean to Marvel.
I hope Joey lives. I hope he lives a long and happy and gay life.
I don’t think he will. But I hope.