Pride Month 2020: In the Dark's Jess Damon is a victory for plus-sized representation of LGBTQ characters on TV
Jess Damon may have started out as the best friend character, but she is so much more
When it comes to representation of the LGBTQ community, it is important that the representation is not limited to just one section of the society. Today, viewers are calling upon studios to give proper representation for the LGBTQ community, people of color, plus-sized people and so on. Most of the time, this is not viewed as intersectional.
Some of TV's most iconic LGBTQ characters are often thin white women, but efforts are on to bring changes. It is rare to see a plus-sized LGBTQ character on TV, which is why Jess Damon (Brooke Markham) from 'In the Dark' on The CW is so refreshing. Jess is the best friend and roommate of the main character, Murphy Mason (Perry Mattfeld), but over the past two seasons, Jess has made space for her own.
Jess works as a veterinarian at Guiding Hope, which used to be owned by Murphy's adoptive parents. After financial troubles, their colleague, Felix Bell (Morgan Krantz) buys the training school for guide dogs.
Over the first and most of the second season, we have seen Jess being the supportive, loyal friend that Murphy needs. Jess is not only considerate of Murphy's needs as a blind person, but she also puts aside her own needs. This comes to an end in the second season when Jess realizes that being Murphy's friend comes with a lot of pain and baggage.
Outside of her friendship with Murphy, we see Jess having two main relationships in 'In the Dark'. In the first season, while Jess was going steady with Vanessa (Humberly Gonzalez), they soon have troubles in the relationship, leading Jess to sleep with another woman. Vanessa and Jess eventually break up.
It is in the second season that we see Jess being more independent. She meets one of Guiding Hope's newest employees, Sterling (Natalie Liconti), and soon has a crush on her. By now, Jess and the others are deeply mired in Chicago crime boss, Nia Bailey's (Nicki Micheaux) money laundering business. Unbeknownst to her, Murphy has also involved them in Nia's drug dealing as well.
When Jess finds out, she is upset, so when Sterling breaks up with her, Jess seems more or less resigned. We had also learned that Sterling was actually one of Nia's people. However, when Jess finally leaves Chicago, she invites Sterling, who goes along with her.
In this week's episode of 'In the Dark', Jess also takes a really big step when she asks Sterling to marry her, who happily accepts Jess's proposal.
One of the reasons we love Jess so much is because she shows us that even representation within a certain community needs to be diverse. Not only is Jess plus-sized, but she is also feminine and loves women. This is not a combination we are often shown on TV. The screen does not like to show fat women getting intimate, but with 'In the Dark', that's not the case. Jess is unabashed and goes for what she wants, even if she is unsure about it sometimes.
In fact, 'In the Dark' is at its best when Jess operates outside of Murphy's circle. It's time to stop relegating queer people to the role of best friends and give them their own major storylines. As much as we hope Murphy's and Jess's friendship is repaired, we hope Jess continues to be treated independently of Murphy in the writers' room.