In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
The Haunting of Bly Manor gave us what The Haunting of Hill House was missing; a queer couple. And in doing so, they endeared thousands of viewers to Victoria Pedretti and Amelia Eve, the stars who play Dani Clayton and Jamie. And for this week’s Queerly Not Straight I wanted to sit and break down why this couple matters so much and what in turn, other writers can learn from Dani and Jamie.
First up, Dani. My sweet Dani Clayton, hero to us all who made sure that no one else suffered the same fate as the Lady of the Lake bestowed on those whose path she crossed. Her journey was one of acceptance and making change. When she first arrived at Bly Manor, that’s what she wanted to do; to make a difference. And she did for Flora, for Miles, and everyone at Bly.
Dani’s relationship with Jamie felt like she was allowing herself to make a difference for herself. She was letting in love, kindness, and another person in her life. And she wasn’t hiding anymore from who she is and what she wants for her future, the ghosts of her past fading away at every touch or moment spent with Jamie. And it was beautiful.
Then there was Jamie. Our sweet talker Jamie who saw stole Dani’s heart, one moonflower at a time. She accepted Dani, ghosts and all, and showed her that it was ok to love the way that she wanted to. Jamie also saw the world from a new perspective with Dani. And it stuck with her during the loving moments, during the quiet moments, and especially during the hard moments when Dani was gone.
Keeping all of that in mind, we acknowledge that their “ending” wasn’t what we expected. It’s what WE expected because it’s a gothic romance. But the ending of The Haunting of Hill House ended “happily” for most of our characters and many were expecting the same of Bly Manor. I’d argue that the ending of The Haunting of Bly Manor was happier than the first season.
But Dani died, you exclaim! How can that be happy, you ask? Well, let me break it down. We got to see more of Dani and Jamie’s life together. We saw them commit to each other. We saw them find a home together. We saw them living their lives in a business they invested in. We saw them thrive, go through some hurdles, and keep going at each other’s side.
That right there is love. That right there is more of a happy ending than The Haunting of Hill House ever gave us or most shows give us in general. Because everyone dies. It’s the sad truth of it all. And we got more than mere glimpses of what they shared over a couple seasons when they’re in their prime. We fell in love with them and saw the life they created for each other and with each other.
Dani’s decision to leave and protect Jamie doesn’t mean she’s pulling an Oliver Queen from Arrow. (You know, the big lug who would make decisions for others without taking into account what the person they love needs.) Dani left because her time had come. They both knew that their time together had an end date. It just came a lot sooner than expected because Dani had a destiny that they both decided to wait for, day by day, together.
Becoming the Lady of the Lake was and is part of Dani’s journey. Her love, her kindness, her spirit, couldn’t drag Jamie to an eternal and limited existence like Peter Quint did to Ms. Jessel. She wouldn’t allow herself to be selfish like that. And Jamie understood. Maybe not at first because she came all the way to England to be with her love. But eventually, Jamie understood that Dani was still with her in every memory, every photo, and every bit of the life they created together in that flower shop.
That’s what life is about; collecting memories and living each moment, each breath, one day at a time. And that right there is a beautiful love story worth knowing about and that I’d like to see more of in the queer media that I consume. Give me queer stories where I see the beginning, the middle, and the end. Gimme the ups, the downs, and the endings because life is so full of them.
And just to clarify, I don’t mean endings like The 100 or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which were acts of violence meant to hurt and shock. I’m talking about endings where the you, me, and us of things are shown in perfect clarity, a guide to all those looking to live a life worth living. And with those we love at our side for however long we have.
That’s what true equality is.
That’s what Dani and Jamie’s love is.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is available on Netflix.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)