This post contains SPOILERS for Voltron season 7
Voltron: Legendary Defender's showrunner has apologized regarding the recent season 7 backlash. The newest episodes of the animated-adventure series recently dropped in their entirety on Netflix. It received critical acclaim as it offered a shift in focus and higher-than-ever stakes. Regardless, large portions of the fandom were left unimpressed by the show's depiction of an LGBT relationship between intergalactic warrior Shiro and his earthbound fiance Adam.
Shiro's sexuality was revealed to fans at SDCC earlier in the year, though the showrunners had apparently known for a very long time. The revelation was met with understandable applause and celebration, as audiences remain ever more eager for wider representation of the LGBT spectrum. The fact the show would push forward with a gay protagonist in a committed relationship led to high hopes and an increased anticipation for the show's return. Unfortunately, fans were left disappointed and, in some cases, outright angry with how things unfolded on-screen. Appearing in only two scenes, Adam was ultimately killed off when Earth was attacked by the Galra Empire, leaving the relationship largely unexplored. The controversy led to accusations of "queerbaiting" in order to fuel hype and increase their ratings.
In a pair of tweets, co-executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos released an open letter. Accepting the dismay of the fans, Dos Santos attempted to explain the circumstances and reasoning behind the creative decisions - citing the boundaries that unfortunately still exist when it comes to this kind of show and the fact that romance was never intended to be a central component of Voltron. He was also quick to apologize to those who felt the show was guilty of queerbaiting and succumbing to the "Bury Your Gays" trope, stating that such was never their intention. Check out the tweets below:
An open letter to the VLD fandom RE: Season 7. pic.twitter.com/S4Ram1Mxm1— Joaquim Dos Santos (@JDS_247) August 14, 2018
Such topics have been a passionate issue for quite some time now, with many shows often criticised for failing to live up to progressive expectations. The 100 infamously killed off one of their LGBT characters, bringing the "Bury Your Gays" trope into the spotlight. They weren't the first, though, with everything from Supernatural and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to Game of Thrones and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer experiencing various examples of backlash. Most recently, the upcoming Jungle Cruise found itself under severe scrutiny regarding its reportedly stereotypical characterization of a gay character. This won't even be anything new to Netflix, who faced similar judgment when they chose to cancel the extremely inclusive Sense8.
The open letter is sure to placate some fans whilst simultaneously further angering those who wish for change to be more exponential than incremental. Whilst entertainment is lacking the kind of committed same-sex relationships that would reflect the modern world, Voltron is at least a step in the right direction. Although Adam remains unfortunately dead, the emotional weight of his death will be felt as keenly as any heterosexual love interest. Also, Shiro remains very much alive and still a central protagonist. To have a "stereotypical, buffed-out male hero" portrayed not as aggressively heterosexual but as part of the LGBT community is certainly not something to be sniffed at. And with an eighth and final season set to air later this year, audiences may yet get a happy ending for a gay hero sooner rather than later.
Season 7 of Voltron: Legendary Defender can be found on Netflix.
Source: Twitter/Joaquim Dos Santos