Take the Shovel Back, I’m Not Burying Her: An Open Letter to Dontnod Entertainment

Stop Writing Dead Girls

Dear Dontnod,

I’m really tired of seeing dead lesbians in media.

When I say this, I don’t mean that I’m sad about the creative choices that have happened in recent media, or even that I’m heartbroken by the fact that "dead lesbians" is still a very common trope within modern media. No. When I say I’m tired of seeing dead lesbians in media, I mean that I’ve given up hope. That the surge of joy I once felt on the rare occasion that I saw my sexuality represented in a healthy way is quickly snuffed out by anxiety as I have to sit and debate if I even want to continue consuming this piece of media until I can be absolutely sure that said character won’t meet a grisly end.

So, as you can probably imagine, I had a very weird relationship with your game, Life is Strange.

A friend recommended it to me after episode three’s release because of the kiss option between Chloe and Max, as well as the rumors that there would be a possible romance route, and honestly I loved it. The first three episodes were awkward, quirky, and painfully indie in all the right ways for it to wiggle its way into my heart, and most importantly I loved Chloe. She was deeply flawed, but in that way she was real. Her stubbornness, temper, and pain humanized her, and I marveled at the brutal realness of her character, in grief and pain, and the applauded the risk you took in crafting a female character with so many sharp edges.

Then, even more than I loved her as a character, I loved the relationship she had with Max. I loved the idea that these two girls, who had been friends since childhood, fell out of contact only to have fate bring them back together in this grand magical adventure. The ease to which they fell back into place by the other’s side, as if that was how they were supposed to be from the beginning.

Following these girls through the first four episodes of the game, I honestly believed that even with the whole world against them there wasn’t anything they couldn’t do together, and when I played through the final episodes I was nearly brought to tears by how far Max would go for Chloe. After four episodes of watching these girls bond, fight, play, support one another, and go through everything together, it was both beautiful and heartbreaking to see Max be willing to give up everything from her dreams to her very safety, for the girl she loved.

I was moved, watching her cut through space and time for the one person who’d been with her throughout the game without fail — who’d wanted to be around her, without any time traveling tricks to get on her good side — and after everything they’d gone through I was so ready to see them come out on the other side victorious!

But they didn’t.

While playing the game it was…difficult to see Chloe die over and over and over again. It was painful, and each time it tugged on that knot of anxiety and doubt, but I never caved to it. I convinced myself that this wouldn’t be that kind of story. Hell, I was convinced that this story was the opposite of all those stories, because no matter what happened to Chloe, Max was there to rewind time and save her. Max only discovered her powers when she rewound time to save Chloe from being shot in the first place, so wouldn’t it make sense that even if it was Chloe’s destiny to die, it was Max’s destiny to save her?

Apparently not.

Apparently, in trying to save the girl she loved over and over again, Max was only making a bigger and bigger mess.

Apparently, it had been Chloe’s destiny to die all along, and apparently Max had done the wrong thing when she’d tried to save her.

I seriously thought I was as upset as I could be at this trope before I finished the game, but it reached whole new levels when you forced me to decide between killing her myself and killing an entire town of people.

I’m fed up, Dontnod. Absolutely fed up with seeing beautiful complex LGBT girls die just after finding love and acceptance. Fed up with healthy, happy, lesbian relationships being portrayed as a death sentence, so you can keep that sweet tender kiss — that you can only get if you kill Chloe — and I’ll take the short, guilt trip ending, with the comfort that at least these two made it.

So take back your shovel, I’m not going to bury her for you. 

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Take the Shovel Back, I’m Not Burying Her: An Open Letter to Dontnod Entertainment