Queer representation has become a majorly important factor in media, specifically teen media, but does The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself succeed in that area?
The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself has just dropped on Netflix. Unlike popular teen media of today, which veers more into regular high-schoolers dealing with mental health and relationships, this series draws back to the supernatural YA craze of the early 2010s.
Based on the book ‘Half Bad’ by Sally Green, the story focuses on Nathan, who lives in a world of warring witches. His father is considered the most evil and dangerous witch out there, and 16-year-old Nathan, who hasn’t even gained his powers yet, has been tasked with killing him.
Since almost everyone is a witch in this show, and witchcraft has always been used to explore things such as sexuality and gender, it seemed natural that LGBTQ+ representation would be a factor in the series. Abd LGBTQ+ representation is present, but how well is it presented? We’ll explain that, but first, warning: spoilers for The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself ahead….
LGBTQ+ representation in The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself, explained
While certain clips in the trailer may have gotten some fans excited to see LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, it may have also made some fans sceptical.
YA fiction has a complicated history with LGBTQ+ representation. Many teen shows, specifically supernatural themed shows, have a history of queerbaiting, meaning that they would heavily hint at the potential of queer relationships in order to get people to watch, without actually going forward with them.
Thankfully, that’s not the case here, as while no character seems to have a confirmed sexual identity, not yet at least, their queerness is evident.
Nathan (Jay Lycurgo) is seemingly attracted to both boys and girls, as he has romantic arcs with and kisses the other two main characters, Annalise and Gabriel. He also isn’t afraid to show his sexuality, as during a confrontation with some bullies, he sarcastically flirts with them.
Gabriel (Emilien Vekemans) is seemingly gay, as he solely has relationships with other men in this show. His issues with relationships are part of his character arc in the show, but not in a sense that relates to his queerness. Rather, his inability to properly finish things, and his tendency to erase other’s memories is the issue he must overcome. And while he does fit the classic mode of a bohemian who runs with a band of misfits through the bars and streets of Paris, he is arguably the show’s most fun character.
Celia (Karen Connell), who in turn is arguably the most nuanced character, also briefly mentions in conversation that she’s had girlfriends and boyfriends. And while she doesn’t have an visible relationships in the show, she’s kickass enough that you love seeing her on screen.
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While it’s generally the good guys who are queer in this show, avoiding the queer-coded villains trope, these heroes aren’t always good. They’re complicated and often do bad things, making them appear far more human, and not like they’re simply intended to be good queer role models for those watching.
Does this show have good LGBTQ+ representation?
In our opinion, yes, one of the best factors of this show is how the LGBTQ+ characters and relationships are represented.
For starters, there are multiple queer characters, and they all have differing personalities and ways of acting in relationships. The relationships themselves aren’t a big deal, homophobia isn’t particularly a thing in this show, but their love for one another is stated blatantly by each character. And the potential of the main trio being a throuple would be very interesting to see if it happens, as that could introduce polyamory representation, an area which is sorely lacking in media.
So while it might be good to have a wider variation of identifies, such as confirmed trans or non-binary central characters – or at least some confirmation of any identities – in the future, this is a great starting point.
The actors in the show also agree. In an interview with Dexerto, Jay Lycurgo, who plays Nathan, explained that “I think what’s really great about the show is that [having queer relationships is] normal and that it’s the norm, and so it should be. We don’t focus on it, I think that’s what’s really nice.
“It just is a part of it. Nathan discovers and connects with someone, that’s what it’s about.”
Now, obviously, this is just our opinion. When it comes to giving and viewing LGBTQ+ representation, there is no end all be all good way to do it. Different people are going to react differently. Some will like that the characters and their relationships aren’t a big deal, some may not.
But considering that we’ve been given decades of teen shows that queerbait, that make homophobic jokes, that bury your gays, that make being gay their only personality, that make homophobia the only issue they face, this show ultimately feels like a breath of fresh air.
The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself is currently available to stream on Netflix.