Why you should be watching Wynonna Earp

Contributed by
May 5, 2017

Picture this: you've had a surprisingly rough childhood, your sister was killed by demons and you accidentally shot your own dad. You managed to escape the small town where you grew up, only to be dragged back for your uncle's funeral just in time to turn 27 and realize your family curse. Sounds like fun, right?

Actually, it is. Well, it is for the viewers, anyway. Not so sure how fun it all is for Wynonna, the titular character of Syfy's Wynonna Earp, which returns for its second season on June 9th.

Here's the gist: Way back in the day, about 150 years ago, the lawman and gunslinger Wyatt Earp had a curse put on his family. When he died, all 77 of the outlaws he killed would come back from the dead as demons and it was up to his descendants to dispatch them once again, starting the year they turn 27. If the current heir dies before ridding the Ghost River Triangle of all 77 Revenants, the process will start all over when the next heir turns 27.

Wynonna Earp is the heir. She thinks she's come back to Purgatory (the town, not the place between heaven and hell, though …) to say goodbye to a beloved uncle, but when she gets home she's welcomed by her 27th birthday and the return of the Earp curse.

Does that sound awesome? Because I promise you that it's awesome. This show is full of cursin' and drinkin' and shootin' and just plain bad-ass bein' and those are just the ladies.

Do you need more reasons to log into Netflix and binge the first season? I can give you more reasons.

So. Much. Girl Power.

I've already mentioned that the show features some awesome female characters but I don't think I've properly sold you on just how many there are - and their level of awesomeness. This show is packed with awesome women for you to fall in love with - and a few dudes too.

First, of course, there's Wynonna herself, the black sheep of not only her family but the entire town of Purgatory. Coming home isn't an easy thing for Wynonna to do and staying to fight demons and break her family curse certainly doesn't make it any easier. Wynonna, to her credit, really couldn't care less what the other residents of Purgatory think of her. She has a job to do and as long as her little sister still loves her, that's really all she needs to get by. Well, that, Wyatt's magic demon-killing gun, Peacemaker, and a whole lot of booze.

Wynonna is played beautifully by Melanie Scrofano who is able to infuse the character with heart and pathos while still making her hilarious and a total badass.

The brains of the operation are Wynonna's little sister, Waverly, a whip-smart, firecracker of a woman who would really like it if you would stop underestimating her now. She may be small but she be fierce, and while she may not be the Earp heir, it's her family curse too. 

Waverly's thoughtfulness and intelligence are the perfect foil to Wynonna's hotheaded approach to wiping all of Wyatt's revenants off the face of the Earth, and as the first season progresses she quickly grows into a more confident young woman.

Helping out with Waverly's transformation - and protecting Purgatory from demons even if she doesn't realize that's what she's doing - is Officer Nicole Haught. Nicole is loyal, brave, forthright, and she's not taking any of your crap, thank you very much. Also, she's a lesbian, and she makes Waverly very uncomfortable when they first meet.

The show isn't just female-focused in front of the camera, it extends behind it as well. Wynonna Earp was created by Emily Andras, who previously served as a writer and executive producer on Lost Girl, another female-focused fantasy drama.

Not so chosen

One of the driving forces behind a lot of fantasy media these days is a Chosen One narrative. One person in all the world who is destined to risk life and limb to stop some kind of unspeakable evil from destroying the world. At first glance, Wynonna Earp would seem to be just the same as those. Earp curse, Earp heir, magic gun that can only be wielded by one person, and a horde of demons and nasties to dispatch before they dispatch you.

Chosen One, right? Not so simple turns out.

One of the things that often comes up with Chosen One narratives is the fact that there is almost always another character who is far more qualified to be the Chosen One than the actual Chosen One. Harry Potter had Hermione, for example. The Magicians has Alice. Star Wars has Leia. And on and on.

Wynonna Earp has Waverly. The difference, though, is that both the show and its characters are very well aware of the fact that Waverly is a much better choice for the Earp heir than Wynonna. Waverly actually says it, out loud, very early on in the series. She's spent her life trying to build up the knowledge and skills needed to figure out who the revenants are and wipe them off the planet. She has endless research on Wyatt and his outlaws. The only thing she's missing is the title and all the fancy powers - and enemies - that come with it.

The show actually goes a step further in playing with the standard Chosen One story. As much as Waverly believes she should be the Earp heir, Wynonna isn't so sure the fates have chosen correctly either. You see, Wynonna is the heir by default. Her older sister, Willa, was supposed to be the heir, but she was dragged off by revenants when they were children. Now it's up to Wynonna to realize her big sister's legacy, and she's got a serious case of imposter syndrome. Wynonna spends much of the first season wondering whether she's got what it takes to break the curse and living in her big sister's shadow. As the story progresses and the mythology of the Earp curse unfolds, you start to realize that "Chosen" can be a flexible term.

WayHaught is #relationshipgoals

Speaking of choices, one of the choices the show makes very early on strongly resonated with fans, and for very good reason. In the second episode, the show introduces us to Officer Haught, who I already mentioned is an out lesbian, and who has her eyes on one Waverly Earp. Waverly may be dating her high school sweetheart at the time, but she's not trying too hard to rebuff the advances of the attractive cop, and eventually, the two begin a beautiful romance.

Gay characters and relationships, especially lesbian ones, are slowly becoming familiar territory on television. Genre television is probably the most common place to find these stories too, so Wynonna Earp doesn't get a cookie just for throwing it's LGBT fans a bone, no matter how pretty that bone may be. What does get them points is the way they handle that story and that relationship. Where it shines is in the comparison to other similar stories on other shows, and boy does it shine.

The show never exploits their lesbian relationship for shock value or queer baiting, rather choosing to invest in it over the course of the season, like you would any other relationship. They also never force some grand struggle or coming out arch on Waverly, which is refreshing in a world where coming out stories are almost all we see. It's completely straightforward. Nicole is gay, she likes Waverly, Waverly likes her, they smush their faces together and talk about their feelings and it's perfect.

Of course, the greatest part of this relationship isn't just its existence, but the way the writers use both if and Nicole herself to comment on some of the biggest issues facing queer characters today. Namely, the issue of Bury Your Gays, which saw the death of dozens of lesbians on television just last year.

I don't want to get into how the show comments on it and subverts it because that moment is easily one of the best of the series, but the fact that the writers saw fit to comment at all is a boon to LGBT fans across the board.

You can literally watch it right now

So, are these good enough reasons for you to watch the show? Do you need more? There are some really great villains who chew the scenery to pieces. How about a 150-year-old immortal gunslinger? Got that too. A secret government agency tasked with dealing with all manner of supernatural troubles across the US and Canada? Check. The chance that that secret government agency may not be the good guys? Done.

There are so many reasons you will enjoy this show - and I can almost guarantee that you will - that I don't think I could list them all. If you like badass ladies who drink and shoot guns in a modern-western-fantasy-drama, you will find something about Wynonna Earp to write home about.

Plus, the first season is available on Netflix right now and you have plenty of time to catch up before Season 2 premieres on June 9. Why are you still sitting here?