I’ve grown accustomed to watching different types of TV relationship dynamics unfold throughout the years. Whether it’s a romantic, friendly or familial relationship, almost all television focuses on creating intimate connections between characters – which, I think, is a lot of people’s favorite part of their beloved TV shows. And while there are usually tons of different kinds of relationships to root for in your favorite shows, Syfy’s Wynonna Earp does a great job of including the seriously lacking sister-sister relationship as one of the primary focuses of their show.
Created by Emily Andras in 2016, Wynonna Earp centers around the titular character of Wynonna Earp’s (Melanie Scrofano) journey to defeat the demon-like “revenants” that have tormented her family for ages. As the family heir, she uses the gun “Peacemaker” in order to destroy the revenants. One of her closest allies throughout the series, along with the person she wants to protect the most is her younger sister, Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley).
While Wynonna is as bitter and cynical as Waverly is sweet and optimistic, their differences, combined with the immense love they have for each other, made for such a compelling relationship dynamic that the show honestly would have felt completely lackluster without it.
Wynonna’s past, haunted by her accidental killing of her father and the subsequent abduction of her other sister, makes her immensely protective of Waverly throughout the show. Though Wynonna fears that Waverly might be putting her life in danger, the younger sister still often has a desire to prove herself against the revenants.
During the first episode, titled “Purgatory”, the audience is introduced to Wynonna’s character as someone who is nonchalant and almost emotionless, not really caring about the people around her. I was a little disappointed to see yet another female character seemingly being portrayed as cold and heartless, which is such a boring trope to me.
However, when Waverly is taken hostage by a group of revenants and almost killed, Wynonna’s sisterly instincts – along with her emotions – fires up, and I realized I was completely wrong about her. Not only did Wynonna have so much love for her sister, but it was clear to me, from this point onward, that the real heart of this show was the intense connection between these two sisters.
Throughout the course of the show, there were several other instances where Wynonna’s protective instincts for Waverly kicked in, solidifying the bond between them. However, this wasn’t a one-sided relationship. Waverly could fend for herself incredibly well and didn’t always need to be protected. Relationships where one character is always the damsel-in-distress and the other the savior often leave me with a weird feeling, as I think these types of dynamics have the potential to become unhealthy. Luckily, Wynonna Earp steered clear of that by giving Waverly plenty of opportunities to save the day on her own.
Despite being a show about killing demons, many of its pivotal moments and important scenes revolved around Wynonna and Waverly’s close bond. At one point, after Wynonna needs to repent for her sins in order to escape death from a revenant, her and Waverly have a significant scene where they discuss Wynonna’s forgiveness. Out of all the characters featured on the show, Waverly was the one who knew the most about the Earp family history. Because of her extensive research on the topic of revenants, she always felt like she was the most equipped to be the family heir and kill the revenants.
Despite this, Wynonna came out of nowhere after never really caring about the Earp revenant “inheritance” and was instantly destined to be the heir. It was obvious up until this point in the show that this issue was the elephant in the room. It seemed unfair to me that Wynonna was the heir even though Waverly seemed to be putting in all the effort. The heart-to-heart they had during this scene, therefore, felt both liberating and refreshing. It was so nice to see a healthy relationship dynamic where issues between the two characters were discussed openly and honestly, leading to a stronger relationship in the end.
Unhealthy relationships being portrayed as healthy ones are the bane of my media consumption. It’s a terrifying message to send to young children who are too impressionable to be able to understand the difference for themselves, so it’s disheartening to see these kinds of relationships presented constantly in fiction. It’s also strange to me that, specifically, sister-sister relationships are lacking in fiction especially because, as shown in Wynonna Earp, they can make for such a fun and fulfilling dynamic. Both of these problems may stem from the fact that writers believe that unhealthy relationships garner larger audiences and more money. I think Wynonna Earp could be a good first step to disproving this theory – not only has the show received good reviews from critics, but it is currently on its second season and has been renewed for a third.
Because so many TV writers are men who write what they know, that could also explain why they avoid addressing sister-sister relationships on their shows. Wynonna Earp was not only created by a woman, but also has several female writers for its episodes, including Andras, Shelley Scarrow, Alexandra Zaronwy, Caitlin D. Fryers, and Ramona Barckert. With so many female writers, it’s not surprising that the show presents such outstanding female relationship dynamics. Hopefully, shows like Wynonna Earp can start a precedent for writers to grow accustomed to creating more diverse types of relationships, something I’m sure many people will greatly appreciate.
You can watch Wynonna Earp on Syfy on Fridays at 10 p.m. EST.