Love interests are a complicated thing, especially when they are LGBTQ. The typical formula is this: main or supporting character gets said love interest, love interest’s world and experience on-screen consists of little outside of the main character. (Think Paige McCullers on Pretty Little Liars, Holly Stewart on Rookie Blue, or even in many ways, Tara on Buffy.) It’s not something exclusive to queer love interests, but when we still have so few out characters on TV with significant roles, it impacts these characters all the more.
Twenty gayteen has seen the Syfy show, Wynonna Earp, reach new heights with increased backing from the network and mainstream press, and of course its “ride or die” fans, the Earpers. What Wynonna Earp gets right that many shows don’t, is the way it treats its lesbian, bi and queer characters. Waverly is the heart of the show, anchoring everyone. Jeremy is the brains but also the awkward nervousness many of us have when it comes to dating. And Nicole Haught (Kat Barrell), well, that’s why I’m writing this article in the first place.
When Nicole Haught first came on the scene, it was only for a few episodes, but her connection with Waverly was so on point, that she became a full-time player. In Season One, her interacti0ns were mainly focused on Waverly, but in Season Two, Haught’s presence as part of the group was expanded and with that, so was the lore and appeal of Wynonna Earp. Haught was given opportunities to form relationships with people outside of Waverly, in particular with Wynonna, which helped not only give Haught more depth, but the other characters too.
A love interest is not an island, though often LGBTQ love interests are treated as such. It limits the growth of that character, plain and simple. This could be why some love interests are so polarizing. Some fans connect, while others don’t, because we never really get the chance to truly bond with them. If a love interest doesn’t connect with the show’s family, how are fans supposed to? WE figured that out rather quickly in Seasons 2 and 3. Now Nicole Haught is part of the Earp family, as the big love of Waverly’s, but also with rich relationships with Wynonna, Nedley, and a meaty background story all of her own. When these characters put themselves on the line for each other, we feel it more deeply, because so do they.
Nicole Haught isn’t an island, and that’s a very good thing. She’s also not solely focused on Waverly, which allows her to experience her fictional life in more impactful ways. She’s not the off-screen phone call, she’s not the person mentioned in passing when it doesn’t fits the show’s schedule. She’s in the thick of it. She’s decorating for Christmas, she’s going to bat for Wynonna, she’s running for Sheriff. Wynonna Earp isn’t perfect (I can’t think of a show that is) but they are always evolving and trying to be better, which as both a critic and a fan I appreciate. In an age where social media connects creators and fans like no other, they are listening. Really listening. Nicole Haught isn’t just a love interest. She’s a larger piece of the puzzle that is Wynonna Earp, and that’s a big deal.