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  • Writer's pictureDana Piccoli

Did "Wynonna Earp" change your life? It changed mine.

When Wynonna Earp debuted in April of 2016, my life was in a weird place, and so was the medium I loved and covered. There had been a stream of endless queer deaths on-screen, and queer fandom was feeling defeated. As a writer and chronicler of queer media, so was I. I had also recently moved from NYC to South Carolina, where I had no friends or family. I had also been laid off from a job I loved at a website that would end up imploding over the next few months. When Wynonna Earp came along, I was freelancing for the outlet, a semi-humiliating position, as I had been an editor just months before. I caught wind that there was going to be something special about the series and shopped around coverage. The Mary Sue took me up on it, and I soon began writing recaps on the show. After a couple of episodes, TMS informed me that they were going to cease coverage at the time due to budget. The show was still getting its footing and my posts weren’t yet bringing in tons of readers, so I understood but I didn’t want to give up. In a rare move, I told them I would do it for free because I really believed that the show was going to be something big. I was right. This little shitshow was about to infuse hope and happiness back into queer media and my own career.

Flash forward to April 2021 and the show that rocked queer fandom to its core by bucking trends and thrashing tropes has ended. It ended before its time, thanks to a series of issues none of which are the show's fault. My coverage of the show also changed over the years. No longer at a big outlet and starting my own, time became an issue, as did my access to things that come easily to bigger outlets. I don't fault the show for this, but I do wish I would have been able to continue the interviews and exclusive coverage I had before. But that's just my regret as a writer, not a fan.

As a fan, I have no regrets. Earpers are a dedicated bunch who have poured blood, sweat and tears into the show's survival. I hope not a single fan feels like they didn't do enough. When it comes to fans, Wynonna Earp is one of the luckiest shows there is. I was blessed to meet many Earpers over the years, who were always full of smiles and kind words. On occasion, I felt a little like an odd-man-out, viewed as more of an observer rather than an ardent fan, edged out of things like fan events and cons. However, I know that that is a common feeling for many people in fandoms, and I try not to take it personally. I know in my heart how deep my Earpiness goes. Being a critic AND a fan are not mutually exclusive.

What always thrilled me about Wynonna Earp was its refusal to take itself too seriously, but to take its role in media very much so. Even when it stumbled, the show learned and attempted to grow, not unlike Wynonna herself. If you were to ask the Wynonna Earp team where they could have been better, I have no doubt they would be honest about it. When the summer of queer death came to television in 2016, showrunner Emily Andras was very vocal about what that meant to fans and how she was not going to be following that same path. Any showrunner who checks in with queer media is someone who takes their role seriously. When Nicole Haught was shot in the Season One episode "I Walk the Line" and revealed to be wearing a bulletproof vest, it was as if a figurative bulletproof vest was also wrapped around the fandom that said, "you will be safe here."

Nicole Haught's romance (Kat Barrell) with Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) was a definitive signal that a same-sex or queer romance could anchor a show. It has no doubt inspired many shows on air now (and in the future) that queer characters can indeed lead and become the heart of a show. Barrell and Provost-Chalkley have given of themselves as ambassadors for queer media in ways that few others have. As queer women themselves, they came out to fans and reached across panel tables to be truly present pieces of fans' lives. The same is true of the other cast members, who poised themselves as ultimate allies and continue to do so to this day.

It's never easy to say goodbye to the thing you love, but I am grateful to Wynonna Earp for making me a better writer, a better advocate for fans, for the friendships I made, the thoughtful conversations it ignited, the Lego Wayhaught figures a talented fandom friend crafted for me, the laughs, the tears and the love. I'm going to miss the hell out of you, Wynonna.

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