Syfy’s little show that could, Wynonna Earp, has just announced its season 2 premiere date. The show, led by Being Erica and Designated Survivor alumnus Melanie Scrofano, will begin its second season on June 9th, 2017. Furthermore, season 1 just became available on Netflix in the US, Canada, and New Zealand.
What’s Wynonna Earp, you say? Based on Beau Smith’s IDW comic, Wynonna Earp centres on the titular Wynonna as she confronts an old family curse in the not-quite-Nightvale levels of the creepy town of Purgatory. Armed with Peacemaker, weapon of choice for great-great-grandaddy Wyatt Earp (yes, that Wyatt Earp), Wynonna battles Revenants, former convicts resurrected as demons hellbent on building a nation overrun with chaos.
Here are 10 relatively spoiler-free reasons why Wynonna Earp should be making its way up your watchlist.
- It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer…
In case the synopsis wasn’t clue enough, Wynonna carries some serious “into every generation” vibes. Wynonna packs all the punch noises and drama that made Buffy’s conflicts as the Chosen One so compelling to watch. It’s also damn funny— Wynonna Earp is fuelled by the same offbeat, witty humour that brought Buffy its cult success. If you loved Buffy for its “strong female asskicker” vibe, chances are Wynonna Earp is right up your alley. Most importantly, like Buffy, Wynonna’s femininity is never compromised in her heroism. We get to see a softer side of Wynonna, especially around her sister, Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), who complements Wynonna’s hard edges with a warm bookishness (not to be mistaken for weakness). Waverly operates rather like Willow did in Buffy, although Wynonna Earp is much more focused on the sister relationship, to great strength and success. Wynonna Earp is the grown-up Scooby Gang, and that does the show no disservice.
- Meets Firefly…
The Whedon is strong with this one. Firefly took the Western genre and blasted it into space. Wynonna Earp is somewhat less ambitious; while twenty-first century America hardly carries the same gravitas (forgive the awful space pun), the setting’s grounded nature solidifies Wynonna’s take on home turf, history, and family. This is particularly evident in the show’s world building and vernacular—Purgatory speaks like an off-kilter Western town, from the Revenants to the bartenders to Wynonna herself. Wynonna Earp’s intersection of science fiction, modern drama, and western is an eclectic mix, but it’s just campy enough to work.
- Meets Supernatural.
There’s something near-infinitely compelling about variations on a theme. Supernatural’s two brothers have been vanquishing freaks-of-the-week for nearly twelve seasons, but when it comes to the crunch, the series is about family relationships. Wynonna and her sister Waverly are about as different and each as damaged as Dean and Sam. Wynonna’s return to Purgatory and her sister mirrors the reunion of the Winchester boys at the start of Supernatural, but it’s Wynonna’s unique portrayal of sisterhood that sets the show apart and makes it a warmer and more immediately satisfying storytelling experience. The relationship also exposes Waverly’s less savoury side, developing her alongside Wynonna as a multi-layered character unrestricted by the looming confines of stereotypes. And Wynonna is never as honest with anyone as she is with Waverly— the complexity evident in scenes between the two sisters allow both Provost-Chalkley and Scrofano to shine, and boy, do they ever.
- Strong female leads.
Yes, leads. Plural. All of the most pivotal relationships on the show exclusively concern women. The Earp family curse doesn’t simply concern Wynonna; it also affects Waverly. The sisters go from estranged to fiercely protective of each other within the first episode. Beyond the Revenants and the romance, it’s the relationship between these two sisters that brings the show its lustre. Not only does the show explore Wynonna and Waverly, it boasts some other badass gun-toting ladies, such as queer police officer Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell) and another member of the Earp family that shows up later in the season. Showrunner Emily Andras’ intentions are clear— Wynonna Earp is driven to the core by female relationships between family and friends and, most importantly, sisters.
- Love triangle with a twist.
Yes, Wynonna is involved with a love triangle from early in the season. It’s a drama show, what else did you expect? While Wynonna is caught up in a triangle between Black Badge agent Deputy Marshall Dolls (Shamier Anderson) and old timey cowboy Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon), Wynonna’s romantic entanglements are not the central point of drama in the show. In fact, it’s not even the show’s central romance, but we’ll come back to that later. Wynonna has never been and hopefully will never be an object to be fought over— in fact, predatory male gaze, or even foolish bravado, rarely enters the show without encouraging disdain from the audience, which is more often than not expressed by the characters, usually Wynonna herself.
- Real issues, real characters.
From even the first glance, Wynonna isn’t some perfect, centred, brave protagonist. Her best friend is a bottle of whiskey, her default demeanor is impetuous and snarky, and her initial reaction to anything to do with her past is to repress, ignore, and repress some more. The first season sees her address the traumas she has run as far as Greece to get away from. It’s messy and at times uncomfortable, but for a show about a girl with a demon-killing gun, Wynonna’s PTSD is surprisingly realistic. Wynonna’s not the only one with issues, either; episode four sees Waverly, the show’s most virtuous character, confront Wynonna about her jealousy and entitlement. Throughout the latter half of the season, it becomes clear that Dolls isn’t what he seems, hinting at both mundane and supernatural character development. Campy as the premise and the pitch may be, this show cuts deep when it comes to the wire.
- Speaking of real issues…
Spoilers ahead. Showrunner Emily Andras (Lost Girl, Killjoys) doesn’t muck around when it comes to breaking down tropes— and, sometimes, she does that best by playing into them. Wynonna Earp sits at the same lunch table as Supergirl, Riverdale, and any other “girl power” show brave enough to join it. Andras isn’t just interested in good storytelling, she’s interested in using good storytelling to discourse about the issues that affect Wynonna’s demographic— and she’s not afraid to throw shade, either. When Waverly’s dopey dude-bro boyfriend Champ questions her ability to be “smart and pretty at the same time”, without missing a beat, Waverly responds that they’re not mutually exclusive. Waverly’s growth into a boundary-breaking badass across the season is as compelling as Wynonna’s, which has a lot to do with her relationship with Nicole Haught. In what Andras affirms is a completely serendipitous turn of events, Officer Haught, the show’s overwhelmingly well-received LGBT representation, is armed against the infamous “Bury Your Gays” trope with a gun and bulletproof vest (not to mention a suave Stetson). To a demographic hurting from poor representation, Wynonna Earp is the TV gift that keeps on giving. It’s not simply a rollicking good time; it’s also one of the more obviously progressive shows on television.
- The damn theme song.
In fact, the whole soundtrack. It’s good quality listening material even outside of backing the show, but the music matches the tone of each scene thoughtfully yet effortlessly. Furthermore, one of the benefits of Wynonna’s small budget is that it incentivizes supporting smaller indie artists like Fleurie, Chili Cold Blood, and the Go-Getters. Jill Andrews’ “Tell That Devil” leads in every episode with enough of a grunged-up country kick without turning off those not so into their boot-scooting. It’s catchy as hell, and appropriate, given the demons running amok on the show.
A Spotify playlist with all of Season One’s tracks can be found HERE.
- This shot.
And most of the rest of them, actually. In Wynonna Earp, great writing, acting, music direction, social awareness and cultural heritage are supported by fantastic cinematography. Not only do the shots give beautiful scope to the microcosm of Purgatory and the surrounding Ghost River Triangle, but the special effects are enough to send toes squirming in the best way possible. Yes, Wynonna Earp is relatively low-budget, but sci-fi special effects have come a long way since Buffy’s wrinkly-faced vamps, and Wynonna Earp shows more heart in its visual crafting than many high-budget shows do in their entire production. If there’s one thing Wynonna dishes out in spades, it’s televisual hutzpah.
- Cliffhanger AF.
Without spoiling too much… one of the characters ends the season with a gun pointed at their head, by one of the other main characters. Purgatory exploded in viewers’ imaginations over the course of thirteen episodes, but Andras doesn’t seem keen on stopping. In fact, the events of the final episode hint that there’s much about Purgatory that even Wynonna and the Black Badge division don’t know. There’s so much left to learn and explore about the world, and Andras promises another twelve episodes of action, humour, and incredible characters.
Wynonna Earp isn’t yet available on Australian television, but will be available on DVD from 3 May 2017. Who knows, maybe Wynonna will make her way onto Australian Syfy, or into the cult classic hall of fame. Into every generation, a television show is born…