Ryan Murphy’s shows have a tendency to start off strong and quickly simmer out -- or in the case of every season of American Horror Story, completely jump the fucking shark. Murphy’s latest primetime venture, 9-1-1, is now three episodes into its second season and still completely crushing it. The seemingly conventional drama effectively blends melodrama and suspense, packaged with characters we care about.
With killer lead actors like Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, and newest cast addition Jennifer Love Hewitt, 9-1-1’s star power means staying power. But with all the celebrity buzz and storylines including a newborn baby getting stuck in a sewage pipe, the show’s greatest assett still lies in Aisha Hinds’ portrayal of Henrietta Wilson.
Hen is one of the main characters at the center of the drama, who happens to be the only openly Queer first responder at the station, and the show regularly taps into her backstory and home situation. She is happily married, with a child from a previous relationship. The first season of 9-1-1 saw Hen struggling to juggle her work life and personal life, including a messy ex-girlfriend. Tropes like this are usually reserved for straight, white male leads, but Hinds plays the butch-leaning lesbian lead with great attention and empathy.
Throughout it all, Hen is amazing at her job. She is regularly seen fighting fires and saving lives. Her sexuality is a part of her character, but it’s not everything.
In the latest episode, “Help Is Not Coming”, Henrietta is trapped amongst the earthquake rubble of a partially collapsed high rise. When the situation feels desperate, she leaves her daughter a goodbye message on her phone. Subverting TV’s Kill Your Lesbian trope, she makes it out alive -- saving a little girl and an ugly purse dog at the same time.
Hen isn’t the latest otherworldly, Marvel superhero. They won’t create a line of action figures and merchandise based around her character. However, she does exemplify the type of every day Queer representation that we need on TV right now.