On Fannishness, Intersectionality, & a Whole Other Grab-bag of Entitled Millennial Bullshit

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Title: On Fannishness, Intersectionality, & a Whole Other Grab-bag of Entitled Millennial Bullshit: An open letter to Sera Gamble, John McNamara, Henry Alonso Myers, and the rest of the creative team for SyFy’s The Magicians.
Creator: greywash & other fans
Date(s): April 19, 2019
Medium: online essay
Fandom: The Magicians
Topic: The Magicians' season 4 finale decision to kill off its queer, depressed main character
External Links: On Medium.com
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On Fannishness, Intersectionality, & a Whole Other Grab-bag of Entitled Millennial Bullshit: An open letter to Sera Gamble, John McNamara, Henry Alonso Myers, and the rest of the creative team for SyFy’s The Magicians is a 5000-word meta essay published on Medium.com by greywash on April 19, 2019, "on behalf of, and/or with the assistance of" 42 additional fans.

Spoiler Warning: This article or section may contain spoilers. If this bothers you, proceed with caution.

It is one of the many pieces of meta written in reaction to the shocking death of Quentin Coldwater in The Magicians' season 4 finale in the days after it aired on April 17, 2019.

It directly addresses TPTB and their justifications for the death, in order to explain why the decision, instead of being subversive and life-affirming, in fact perpetuated trauma for marginalized fans who identified with the character.


  • Quentin Coldwater: white male hero or queer, abused, suicidally-depressed character?
  • Privileged creators vs marginalized fans
  • The message of the finale
  • The power of fandom


Warning: These quotes contain explicit mentions of suicide and suicial ideation.

So. Ms. Gamble, Mr. McNamara, Mr. Myers, and cohort: I watched the episode, and then I spent, essentially, the next 30 hours on some combination of thinking about it, writing about it, thinking about writing about it; and most of all thinking about what I wanted to say to you, and the rest of the creative team, not just regarding the episode itself, but also regarding your interview in The Hollywood Reporter, where you describe the episode as giving “that answer” to whether or not Quentin’s life had meaning, [...] and your interview in Vulture, where you said that “that exact question [of whether or not Quentin’s death was a suicide] will hopefully fuel debate and discussion and possibly be the source of a few academic papers at institutions of higher learning”; and “that Quentin was too attached to these people, and they to him, for Quentin to have consciously given up his life”; and that your “intent is to really rigorously and realistically explore human behavior, and if the show simplifies human behavior to the point where it’s a cartoon, you’re doing a greater disservice to the world of mental health”; or your interview with Entertainment Weekly, where you said that your hope was to “give a sense of closure as opposed to mordent and pornographic tragedy.”

Except —none of that is what this episode actually did.

You’re wrong.

You can’t afford for [the gap between what you think you are making and what you actually made to be invisible to you] because here you are talking about how great it is that you killed the white male hero, and by doing so laying claim to the narrative of “woke art,” or whatever you want to term it; but what you are making is not “woke art”, and your blindness to why it’s not “woke art” hurt people; and you are in a position of power relative to the people you are hurting.

I watch The Magicians in large part because I have never, in the entire history of my 37 years on this planet, seen myself reflected as (awkwardly, embarrassingly, uncomfortably) as I see myself reflected in Quentin Coldwater.

Or. I watched. I mean, I watched —before Wednesday night, I watched The Magicians in large part because —

— before Wednesday night, I had never seen myself reflected as (awkwardly, embarrassingly, uncomfortably) as I saw myself reflected in Quentin Coldwater.

You wanted to tell a story about the dominant perspective making way for new voices. Instead you told a story about a traumatized queer kid with chronic mental illness killing himself in the way that glorified the actual disordered thinking of actual queer mentally-ill people, when that little, terrifying part of ourselves that wants to kill us is in the process of overwhelming the much bigger parts of us that are fighting, desperately, every day, not to die.

If The Magicians is a story about stories, which we all agree it is, then what story, precisely, do you think Quentin’s arc tells? Because the story I watched said: fight as hard as you want, it doesn’t matter; your destiny is suffering, and guilt over your suffering, and misery, and despair. No one will ever see you. No one will choose to help you. No one will ever come for you. Your ongoing trauma matters to no one. No one will ever even notice you’re hurting. There is no escape, and you have no future, and your best and most powerful act will be your complicity in your own death, whereupon all these things that don’t actually need forgiveness, like your illness and struggle and trauma, will be magically forgiven — and that is cartoonish, and terrible, and pointless, and untrue, just —

— fuck you, man, if that’s what you think my story should be.

I am trying, very hard, not to claim to speak for the group; I wasn’t nominated to or anything and I can therefore really only speak for me, but I worry that makes this sound like it was just written by one person, which it wasn’t; or that I own it, which I don’t. I don’t own anything in fandom, because fandom is, always, a we. It’s what makes us resilient, and it’s what is going to steer us through this for us, whatever shit fucking story you decide to tell about us for you. But it means that you haven’t just lost the trust of the mentally ill queers at the back of the room. You hurt us. You hurt part of us, in a way that was quite frankly derivative and cheap, and then you told us it was honest and good and true; and we don’t believe you.