Maybe I should preface the question with an even broader, “am I the only human on the internet who is a HUGE FAN of Halt and Catch Fire?” Halt and Catch Fire is the story of technological innovators in the eighties, beginning in 1983 and ending season 3 in 1990; focusing on the first laptop computers, multiplayer gaming, online purchasing, and finally, the World Wide Web. Though the people, machines, and programs are fiction, the science and history behind them is not. It’s a well crafted, amazingly acted story and seriously has me on the edge of my seat every episode.
Another great thing about this show is that one of the main characters and one of the most detailed and captivating characters is an unabashedly bisexual man; Joe McMillan. Joe is passionate in work and love and his bisexuality is never a cause for concern with his friends and coworkers. When Lev, a gay coder, is catfished and beat up for being gay, the Mutiny team rallies behind him. But where is our cool queer chick who is a code wizard?
Enter Cameron Howe. She is a master at all things tech and honestly had the gaydar going off from the moment she saunters into class late blasting music and looking very Shane. Imagine my shock when not even five minutes into episode one, she’s hooking up with Joe in the back of an arcade. Rude.
ALSO Cameron is played by Mackenzie Davis who recently played Yorkie in everyone’s favorite Black Mirror episode “San Junipero” when SHE PLAYS A QUEER LADY. I rest my case.
Watching Cameron fall for Joe so completely and then eventually fellow coder, Tom, I almost lost hope. I was sure this was going to go the way of most queer media, aka invisible and never canonical. It didn’t look like Cameron would ever love or even crush on a woman.
Donna is the wife of Gordon Clark, failed(ish) computer designer who starts working for/with/against Joe. Gordon and Donna met in college, and Donna is every bit as smart as he is with the tech but when we meet her she is unfulfilled at a children’s toy company.
The chemistry between Donna and Cameron doesn’t hit full force until season two when the two band together and own their own company, “Mutiny”. Two women of the 80s killing the computer scene? I’m in. Does this best friendship have to fall into romance, you ask? Season three says yes.
Cameron lives in Donna and Gordon’s house. Donna and Cameron go house hunting together and the realtor thinks they are a couple, to which they just giggle and look more like a couple. Donna betrays Cameron and it literally guts her so much that she leaves her company and moves to Japan. Donna does everything in her power to win Cameron back, including giving up her idea and Cameron’s friendship just so Cameron can be happy.
In an emotionally charged scene between the two, Cameron has come back from Tokyo without her husband to go to a tech expo. Donna figures this out and, recently divorced, decides to go to the conference and approach Cameron for the first time in three years. Their meeting is tender and painful and sweet and dripped of the promise of a confession of love, but hey, I guess I’ll take the World Wide Web in its stead.
What bothers me the most is that it feels like the show tries to make these characters straight instead of letting them dip their toes into queerness, especially when AMC is not known to shy away from the topic. While Cameron and Donna are getting more intense, they have Donna and Gordon have lots of sex for no reason. The moment Cameron seems the most reliant on Donna, she goes to Texas and marries certified wet blanket, Tom. And yet we get scenes like this:
Halt and Catch Fire will enter its fourth and final season summer 2017, and I really hope they give me at least a kernel of gay. Just a little bit. You can catch up on Netflix and AMC.com. Let me know in the comments if you are watching this show!