The Gifted: Reed Strucker and Mutant Conversion Therapy

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The Gifted Interview: Stephen Moyer AKA Reed Strucker

The Gifted is a Marvel show that prides itself on representation people of diverse backgrounds. From casting people of color in lead roles to addressing political issues, Fox’s The Gifted takes mutants back to their comic roots by addressing civil rights issues and letting the X-Men stand-in as allegorical character for repressed people groups. Every character on The Gifted is more than just a mutant, even if their mutant DNA motivates the plot. The actors and writers share their feelings about real world issues through the Struckers, the mutants of the underground, and even their human enemies.

Every character adds to the story and their struggles mirror real issues in the real world. For instance, Stephen Moyer’s character Reed Strucker, the patriarch of the Strucker clan, was born a mutant but was medically forced to repress his mutant gene by his family. Caution lies ahead for anyone who might be triggered by a discussion of LGBTQ conversion therapy. In Season 1, after decades of believing he was sick, Reed learned that his grandparents were mutants and that his father had mutant abilities. He also learned that he was born with abilities and that his kids, Lauren and Andy, inherited their abilities from their him. Season 2 will explore the reawakening of these powers.

Reed Strucker as an Allegory for Mutant Conversion Therapy

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When someone is identified as “different” in a society, members of that society often try to “correct” that person’s lifestyle or behavior. Reed’s predicament mirrors conversion therapy, a treatment used to supposedly “cure” homosexuality. The treatment was practiced in the United States and the UK for a number of years, often with very painful results. The concept of “getting rid of mutant powers” has been a major theme explored in the X-Men franchise, in the comics and on the big screen. Rogue tried to eliminate her powers in X-Men 3 and in this year’s Deadpool 2, it was a motivating factor for Russell Collins becoming a villain and killing Cable’s family.

It’s a heavy topic for the LGBT community, so the introduction of a storyline along those lines for a cable show, even one as good as The Gifted, is something sure to draw the audience’s interest. The show’s focused on representation in their story, but how will they handle such a sensitive topic? We sat down with actor Stephen Moyer to discuss the storyline.

Your character had powers and then they didn’t, which could be considered an allegory for conversion therapy within the LGBT community. How did you prepare to discuss such a serious topic?

That is something we’ll be bringing up this season. It’s sort of a strand that comes a little bit later. We’re obviously aware, I feel like Reed thinks his father was trying to do the right thing but for 30 years he’s been living this lie of who he was and he isn’t the person he thought he was going to be. Matt and I talked about what brings the power on, what it feels like, does it feel like destiny was pulled away, that he’s not the person he was supposed to be. We’re all very aware, that the X-Men started as a civil rights ideal, it was embraced by the LGBT community and we really work hard to represent that. One of the things the show does well, is representing characters that aren’t on our side of the fence. We try to represent why they’ve come to that understanding of the world rather then just saying “they’re bad.” It becomes an argument of morality

It’s about educating, showing people — in the example of the mutants — just because someone is different that it’s not bad, that they’re different than you.

That’s a smart attitude for a smart show to take. The Gifted is poised to introduce a number of different topics. Picking up this thread is one that could have long lasting ramifications. It’s a tough topic that could ring very close to home for a number of people. The fact that Moyer and the writers have discussed the character and his feelings is a good sign. There’s a lot that Reed Strucker’s story could bring to the show. The notion of “Living a lie of who he was until he discovered that he wasn’t that person,” is something a lot of people in the LGBT community can relate to. The notion of being closeted, or having the truth denied from them is all too common in the world today.

It will be interesting to see how The Gifted tackles this important story line. Thankfully they seem to be on track. They’ve discussed it. It’s one of multiple story lines that the writers are planning to bring to fans. For us, this one in particular hits close to home.

Fox’s The Gifted, premieres Tuesday September 25th, 2018.

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