This show is important to its queer audience because it is literally changing lives”

BY EMANUELA, IMAGES BY FREEFORM

Representation on television matters. It helps shape how we are viewed by our society and by ourselves. It shows we have a place in the world, and it truly changes lives.

Many networks claim queer allyship, but it’s still rare to see queer characters normalised onscreen. Motherland: Fort Salem is different; it’s a female-centric, non-heteronormative, racially, culturally, and gender diverse sci-fi/fantasy drama from Freeform. It launched at the beginning of the pandemic and created a very engaged queer audience through the show’s main love interest, a queer couple comprised of two of the show’s leads, Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson) and Scylla Ramshorn (Amalia Holm), aka “Raylla”.

The beautiful Raylla love story, about two women who struggle to find their place in the world, only to wind up finding their place within each other, really struck a chord with the queer audience. Their relationship is a complex romance, something rarely given to queer women. They are fully-developed characters who stand perfectly on their own, but their rare position of being the romantic heart-and-soul of the show elevates them even more.

It’s not just the writing, onscreen chemistry between the actresses, or even their dedication to their craft, characters, and fictional romance that makes Raylla special. They have something that is undeniably magical and it’s elevated by their remarkable off-screen kindness, appreciation, and allyship to our community.

Freeform has recently announced the renewal of Motherland: Fort Salem for a third and final season which, combined with other similar decisions from the network regarding other shows, has unfortunately indicated a change in their previously fostered queer inclusivity. Season three of Motherland will house Freeform’s remaining two queer characters from the 2019-2020 Glaad’s “Where We Are on TV” report where the network held the number two position on cable inclusivity, representing 19 queer characters. The history of queer shows being prematurely cancelled, or queer characters dying or being eliminated, means we rarely see queer couples’ storylines being fully realised. It’s difficult for queer women to give any show a chance, and all of this made Freeform’s decision to end Motherland that much harder on queer fans.

Motherland: Fort Salem Season 1 was the number three ranked series on streaming during March 2020. However, its second season received minimal promotion and was moved to a later time slot during the summer, which dramatically damaged the show’s live viewership. They are however still an outstanding series on streaming; the show has a position of 15% above the market average with its demand growing over 121%, making the decision to end the series difficult to understand.

This show is important to its queer audience because it is literally changing lives; many of its queer viewers came out of closets, or deep depressions because of Motherland. Also, many fans feel a sense of belonging from watching Raylla, especially those from countries where being queer is widely unaccepted, or even illegal. Representation matters, Motherland: Fort Salem matters, and its audience deserves better than another premature cancellation.

Sign the petition to save Motherland: Fort Salem at change.org/p/freeform-save-motherland-fort-salem

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