The ‘Voltron’ Showrunner Apologized For Making a Mess of the Show’s Gay Representation
If you’re not caught up on Netflix’s Voltron series, you might want to skip this article — it contains spoilers for the latest season of the popular cartoon. You may have been excited by the news out of this year’s Comic-Con that Shiro, one of the shows most popular protagonists, was gay. But when the new season dropped last Friday, fans were disappointed to see that Shiro’s homosexuality only popped up in two brief scenes. Yesterday, showrunner Joaquim Dos Santos wrote an open Voltron apology letter, addressing the situation.
At this year’s Comic-Con, Dos Santos’s co-showrunner Lauren Montgomery showed a clip of the show featuring Shiro back on earth with his boyfriend, Adam. Adam stayed behind on Earth while Shiro and the rest of the Voltron force went into deep space. Viewers expected that Shiro would return home later in the season to Adam.
But when the show finally came out — it turned out that that was one of two scenes with Adam. In the other scene, Adam is killed during an alien attack on Earth, echoing the “Bury Your Gays” trope every LGBTQ fan is sick to death of (pardon the pun). The move was widely criticized by fans and critics alike.
At the time, Montgomery and Dos Santos addressed concerns about Adam, saying, “It was actually something that happened purely because of the story that was built. So he was kind of a casualty of the story rather than us writing the story specifically to kill that character. If we had, had a story that really hadn’t centered around people giving their lives for the cause … Adam, being the hero that he always was alongside Shiro, went out with his fellow men and women trying to defend their home and he lost his life in the process.”
The Voltron apology letter
In the letter, he says that the new Voltron was intended to be “as inclusive as possible within the boundaries given.” He adds that though there are still boundaries, they’ve widened since they started, and there’s still room to grow.
He then directly addresses the controversy, writing, “If anyone, for any reason, took away from this season that our intention was to queerbait the Voltron: Legendary Defender fandom, I’d like to personally apologize.”
He says first scene showing Adam was intended to “set up Shiro’s sexual orientation…. and… demonstrate that Shiro was dealing with some heavier stuff long before he ever got wrapped up in this crazy alien conflict.”
Dos Santos’s Voltron apology does address that the crew was aware of the “bury your gays” trope, but “hoped against hope that our struggle to confirm Shiro’s orientation would take center stage here. We had not intended for Adam to be interpreted as a recurring character or someone that would come back into Shiro’s life.”
He explained, “That is not me attempting to turn this around and place the burden of expectation on anyone. This is not an excuse. We crafted this entire series around the themes of sacrifice and loss, and at the end of the day, have to take responsibility for our creative decisions.”
He also apologizes for the way he handled things and admits the show “fumbled a potentially larger positive social message.”