Watch out for major You season two spoilers from here on out.
You season 2 created a whole new problem for itself, to go along with its insensitive portrayal of female trauma. As you might have guessed, it has everything to do with the fate of brand new character, Forty Quinn.
Obnoxious, frustrating, self-centred... actor James Scully played season two's most annoying addition almost too well, but by the end, we still ended up feeling sorry for him anyway thanks to that tragic back story and a surprisingly nuanced performance leading up to his death.
Although Forty was designed to embody everything that Joe hated most about the LA lifestyle, there's a lot more to him than viewers were first led to believe, and Scully himself has now confirmed that too.
Throughout You's second season, the wannabe director never labels his sexuality outright, but we mostly see him hook up with women on screen, so a lot of viewers just assumed he's straight.
However, Scully himself is queer, and when fans on social media asked why "you guys decide Forty would be straight?", his response revealed that Forty is anything but heterosexual.
"We didn't, and he wasn't, and he's not, and he never will be."
This actually makes a lot of sense. The intensity of Forty's relationship with Joe verged on erotic more than once, and it's fair to say the character was coded as queer as well.
Scully recently expanded on his character's sexuality further while speaking to ET Online:
"Because [Forty's] still craving affection, he uses sex as a tool a lot. I think Forty would have sex with whoever he decided he wanted to have sex with."
"And it was nice being able to play the character even if I was realising retroactively that [he] was sexually fluid where we didn't need to stress that in any way. It was what it was, and he was who he was."
On the one hand, it's encouraging to see a queer actor authentically play a queer character like this, particularly in something as popular as You.
Moments where Forty and Joe became extra close resonate even stronger now, including Scully's own favourite scene where his character falls asleep crying in Penn Badgley's arms.
As Scully himself told Glamour:
"We talked a lot about the relationship between Forty and Joe, which at that point was a little more than a friendship, obviously. I think it's a different kind of [love]. It was two, at least partially heterosexual men being physically intimate with each other in a way that wasn't sexual or violent. That was really important to me, and it was really important to Penn."
While it's still all-too-rare to see these kind of male interactions on screen, it's also unfortunate that the writers would deliberately skirt around Forty's sexuality in this way.
This wouldn't be the first time that characters have been labelled queer after their story has been told either. The most obvious example is JK Rowling, who "revealed" her books were more diverse than they seemed in a patronising bid to appease LGBTQ+ fans.
J.K. Rowling Confirms Some Characters in Her Books and Movies Are Gay Everywhere Except in the Books or the Movies https://t.co/Y5gcbMWNB9— Eric D. Snider (@EricDSnider) March 16, 2019
The difference this time round is that Forty's revelation came via one of the performers, instead of the people who actually wrote the show. Because of that, one could argue Forty's queerness isn't actually canon, that Scully just had this in mind while filming...
However, during that aforementioned interview, Scully also revealed that some conversations about Forty's sexuality were had on set after all, so there's no reason why his queerness couldn't have been explored more before his character died.
This wouldn't be the first time that You has fumbled LGBTQ+ representation. Queer supporting characters like Charlie Barnett's Gabe or Love's lesbian friends are either stereotyped or sidelined to the point where their impact on the story is almost non-existent.
The only time You has integrated LGBTQ+ themes in any meaningful way was back in season one, and that wasn't handled particularly well either.
Enter Peach, yet another terrible name in a string of terrible names on this show. While Beck's friend was an undeniable highlight of the first season, Peach also became more and more problematic as time went on.
Fun, camp and deliciously evil, Shay Mitchell's performance injected some much needed energy into You's first arc, but it also played into one of the most harmful tropes on TV — the evil bisexual.
While Joe's heterosexual obsession with Beck is played almost sympathetically at points, Peach's queerness is vilified to the point where she even comes across as the main antagonist.
It's hard not to see how this damning portrayal of her character is associated at least in part with her bisexuality given that there's such a long history of this trope on-screen.
Sadly, season two is arguably even worse in this regard, killing off a lead queer character who wasn't even labelled as such on screen. Forty deserved better, and Peach did too.
Sure, You revolves around a murderer, so the body count is always going to be higher than most shows, but it's still rather telling that the only two LGBTQ+ characters of note died horribly.
Hopefully, You season three can make amends for this moving forward, or we'll be sorely tempted to throw this show in a glass box of its own and abandon it forever in the long-forgotten annals of our Netflix viewing history.
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