WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, streaming now on Netflix.
Netflix has been telling a lot more progressive stories lately in mainstream pop culture, with LGBTQ characters appearing in Voltron: Legendary Defender, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, as well as the 3Below: Tales of Arcadia series.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Thra would also have queer characters on its alien world in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel to Jim Henson's '80s classic puppet film.
However, as excited as fans would have been to see just how such relationships would be fleshed out, namely between two Gelfling ladies, Tavra and Onica, it's a bit disappointing the way they're handled.
To make it worse, while the show does offer up another queer couple for fans to relate to, Deet's two dads end up being nothing more than a cliffnote that felt so under-utilized, it merely reiterated that the show just doesn't do its LGBTQ characters justice at all.
Character descriptions before the show premiered revealed Tavra, a princess and daughter of the All-Maudra Mayrin in the Vapran Clan, was involved in a same-sex relationship with Onica, a bookkeeper with the Sifa Clan.
By the time the series dropped, fans were primed to examine their interactions and see if their romance would be a focal point of the series. Sadly, this never happens as they interact with each other briefly and it's business as usual. Apart from Brea, Tavra's younger sister, seeking information from Onica, the latter doesn't play a key role at all.
As for Tavra, all of her time is spent patching up the discord between her mother and siblings, as Mayrin wants them to bend to Skeksis rule. She also enters into disputes with her sister, Seladon, who was even more faithful to the Skeksis, branding her mom a traitor when Mayrin realized she sold her people out.
One would think during all this turmoil, Tavra would seek out Onica for some companionship and to be a shoulder to lean on, but they don't even have any scenes depicting friendship, much less a romance. It comes to a head when Tavra's killed thanks to a mortal wound by the Chamberlain with Onica not even sharing a scene with her, which also unfortunately feeds into the troubling "bury your gays" trope.
The show had her sisters leading her into Stonewood, so it was easy to assume they'd encounter the Sifans who also turned on the Skeksis at that point. It might have felt shoehorned in but still, even a subtle hint of something between her and Onica would have been appreciated.
Instead, Tavra dies and Onica is only seen at the end when all seven Gelfling clans unite. And here, she doesn't even acknowledge Tavra, which means to the naked eye, they didn't even exist to each other, nullifying anything suggesting they were a couple.
Seeing Tavra torn between her mother's duty and what's right for her people could have created a nuanced relationship between the two, especially with 10 episodes to tinker with, but ultimately, all we get is wasted potential.
As for Deet's dads, when she and Rian return to the Grottan realm to seek out the Dual Glaive, they meet her younger brother, Bobb'N, in their home.
The entire clan has fled the Darkening and Deet admits the boy's missing as well as her two dads. Eventually, when they all reunite, all we get are some hugs between Deet, her dads and the little brother. They're relieved the Arathim isn't brainwashing them anymore, but what's disappointing is apart from this quick exchange, we don't really get a sense of personality from the fathers.
We're not saying the two parents have to be made into spectacle like a couple of show ponies, and there's obviously something powerful to be said about normalizing queer characters through not drawing too much attention to them. However, we'd still love to have gotten some more character from them, similar to how we understood Bow's dads were historians of Etheria on She-Ra.
This is a missed opportunity, especially as Deet's dads are seen leading the frontlines of the Grottan army, meaning they're elite warriors with wealths of experience who deserved more insight.
In such an alien/fantasy society, glossing over them like this mishandles the diversity they represent and treats them like throwaway characters. They're clearly epic soldiers and hearing their war stories, how they met and what Deet's revolution means to them could have made their story all the more interesting.
Not to mention with the Grottan being outsiders, shunned and considered the lowest caste in the Gelfling society, it would have been nice to see how accepting and receptive their clan was to a gay couple being their protectors. Alas, Netflix misses the mark here and leaves the series feeling only superficially inclusive.
Streaming now on Netflix, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is directed by Louis Leterrier, and features the voice talents of Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nathalie Emmanuel , Caitriona Balfe, Helena Bonham Carter, Harris Dickinson, Natalie Dormer, Eddie Izzard, Theo James, Toby Jones, Shazad Latif, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, Alicia Vikander, Harvey Fierstein, Mark Hamill, Ralph Ineson, Jason Isaacs, Keegan-Michael Key, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Simon Pegg, Andy Samberg and Donna Kimball.