Watching the first two episodes of Roswell, New Mexico Season 2, it’s clear that showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie did not listen to any of the criticism she received about the show’s problematic and poorly-written queer representation (yes, we mean Malex). So, frankly, I’m okay with the viewership falling.
I get that people who develop TV shows or serve as showrunners have a story they wish to tell. I’m all for giving creatives the freedom they want to say what they want. However, a talent’s freedom of expression also attracts feedback from the people who consume their content. TV shows are businesses, after all.
That’s why some of the best showrunners know how to strike a balance between presenting their story while taking into consideration what the fandom (that supports said content) wants. Currently, I think Carina Adly MacKenzie is the kind of showrunner who doesn’t really care about any of this.
Think Jeff Davis and Teen Wolf, but less disastrous (for now).
While Davis continued to use Sterek to queerbait the fandom (all the way into the series’ finale), MacKenzie’s using her show’s canon queer characters to offer highly problematic queer representation that perpetuates bisexual stereotypes in media.
I have talked about the poorly-written queer representation that was part of Roswell, New Mexico Season One. MacKenzie even tried to justify her writing choices in a very ineffective manner. Seeing a straight person explain bisexuality to queer viewers was just wow.
Her replies made it clear she wasn’t going to change. And truth be told, I hoped she would consider changing a few things during the hiatus. I say this because Roswell, New Mexico is an enjoyable show. However, the poorly-written queer representation serves no purpose and works against making this series something I would recommend others to watch.
It seems fairly clear to me that the ONLY reason to make Michael Guerin (Michael Vlamis) bisexual in the current Roswell reboot was to put him in a highly troubling love triangle involving the POC gay character Alex Manes (Tyler Blackburn) and WOC Maria Deluca (Heather Hemmens). And that’s where the main problem lies. Seeing queer sexuality used as a plot point for causing unnecessary drama is disappointing.
Furthermore, the way Michael’s sexuality has been used is a disservice to the progress of positive bisexual representation in media. There’s a big issue of bisexuals being portrayed as manipulative, emotionally unstable, liars, greedy, selfish, crazy, etc. in media. These stereotypes also exist in the real world, causing actual bisexual people to be deemed untrustworthy. And, currently, the show’s handling of Michael supports those particular stereotypes.
In the first season of Roswell, New Mexico, we saw Michael use Maria. The same trend was clear in season two. In the second episode, titled ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ (which aired on March 23, 2020), during a Malex scene, Michael told Alex he had decided to be with Maria (who is also Alex’s friend).
Do you want to know what Alex said to Michael after hearing this?
And I quote: “You know, honestly, If I could choose to be with Maria DeLuca, I would, too.”
Like, what the heck is that even supposed to mean? Why does Maria continue to be used as an object to cause more drama involving Malex?
Here’s hoping she gets to serve a bigger purpose in the narrative instead of being used by a bisexual white guy to make his gay love interest jealous. I won’t be holding my breath, though.
Apparently, Alex will be getting a new love interest. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex beginning a relationship with another guy will make Michael jealous and make him use Maria even more.
It’s a complete mess no matter how you look at it. And the fact that the show has a white guy playing with the feelings of two POC characters is just not a good look. Media has an issue of putting white love interests on a pedestal. It’s as if POC characters won’t be able to do any better than a white love interest and are thus required to put up with toxicity from the white love interest just to stay in a relationship that’s being served to the audience as romance.
The show seems to conveniently not remember that Maria and Alex are supposed to be friends and they should have had a conversation about Michael already. Frankly, both Alex and Maria need to kick Michael out of their lives (in the romantic sense). But I don’t think that will happen because again, according to media, being with a white love interest is deemed as the goal for POC characters (even if it involves ignoring other possible POC love interests).
Coming to the viewership data, Roswell, New Mexico Season Two returned with series low numbers. The lowest the first season went was 0.83 million live viewers for episode 11. The finale got 1.03 million live viewers.
However, the premiere of the second season received 0.75 million live viewers. I will update this post as soon as I get the numbers for the second episode (which featured the highly disappointing Malex and Michael/Maria scenes). (Note – Update: the second episode was able to tick up to 0.82 million live viewers.)
Now, I get that there are some fans who say that due to the series having already been renewed for a third season, viewing numbers don’t matter. Certain fans also say the show is doing well on streaming (remember how Jeff Davis used the same excuse to say Teen Wolf was doing well? Ha!).
I would like to point out that, at least for now, live viewing numbers and sponsor interest still matter. It’s one of the reasons AMC decided to delay the premiere of The Walking Dead: World Beyond instead of making it available on a streaming service (because it’s NOT all about the streaming numbers).
It will be interesting to see if The CW will even go ahead with the third season if the ratings continue to fall. Perhaps the network won’t renew it for a fourth outing if viewership doesn’t pickup? Let’s see what happens.
For now, I’m curious to know what led to the Season Two premiere experiencing such a drop in numbers? Did some of the Malex shippers decide not to tune in (good for them!)? Did certain parts of the fandom realize how MacKenzie was using queer characters in a problematic manner (good for them too!)? Did the long hiatus make people forget or get tired of waiting?
I don’t have the answers.
I know there are some fans who think that Malex is endgame. Which- yeah, okay, if you want to think that, go ahead. My point has more to do with the poorly written queer representation in this show as a whole. It isn’t about whether or not Malex will be a thing when the series concludes.
Besides, even if Michael and Alex do end up together, the damage to positive bisexual representation in media has already been done.
What do you think of the queer representation in Roswell, New Mexico?
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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