Updated: Mar 5
Recently, in preparation for National Couples Day we ran some polls on our twitter account to get some general “which ship do you like best” opinions. Out of all the polls we ran, by far and away, one ship ran away with all the votes. Wynonna Earp’s Wayhaught brought in thousands more votes than any other ship we touched on - and it’s not surprising.
In an era of darkness - both in real life and the style of current TV shows - Wayhaught has been a beacon of light, both as representation for queer love but also as a compelling love story full stop. The journey of engaged bartender Waverly, a small town, sweet as pie girl exploring her bisexuality due to the arrival of a tall, drink-of-water, red-headed sheriff with confidence and kindness oozing out of her uniform, is a highlight of TV in recent years.
Wynonna Earp tells the story of the titular character, great-great-granddaughter of Western hero Wyatt Earp, who returns to her hometown Purgatory to fight “revenants” - the reincarnated, demonic outlaws killed by Wyatt. Waverly is Wynonna’s younger sister who stayed behind while Wynonna tried to outrun her legacy, and who has been tracking the odd goings on in town for years.
The show follows Wynonna, Waverly, an ageless Doc Holliday, Sheriff Haught, and at different times, government agents Xavier Dolls and Jeremy Chetri as they fight supernatural elements and their own issues in the cursed Ghost River Triangle. It’s an adventure fantasy western, with smart-whip dialogue, swathes of action and oodles of heart; a show about family, in all senses of the word, with the romantic relationship between Waverly and Nicole as its central pillar.
The actors playing Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught in Wynonna Earp’s most popular pairing had natural chemistry that leapt from the screen as soon as their eyes met in Shorty’s Bar. Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Katherine Barrell inhabited these very real women, in the midst of this fantasy/horror/western show, with such an honesty and dedication, that it was inevitable a dedicated fanbase would instantly spring up for this ship - and did they ever!
There is absolutely no denying that the reason Wynonna Earp was saved from cancellation at least once, is largely down to the Wayhaught fans. And there is a reason - well, several - that this TV show and ship attracts such a loyal following. Wynonna Earp is a show you can trust.
In the days of Game of Thrones, The 100 and How I Met Your Mother, some TV shows have gone for shock twists over heart. It’s a choice, but it’s not a popular one with devoted fans who feel kicked in the teeth instead of rewarded for their loyalty. Wynonna Earp is a show which steers so clear of this mentality, yet still keeps the plot thrilling and lively, and the captivated audience engaged.
Creator, show-runner and writer Emily Andras has been open and upfront about how she feels about being true to both the story and the fans. She ensured that the show kept fresh, exciting developments without betraying the audience’s heart.
In the 4th season episode “Holy Way Part 1”, when it seems as though Nicole Haught has been drowned, the character Jeremy tells a distraught Waverly to “trust us”. He’s looking straight into the camera as he says it, and it’s clearly a message to the viewers. Though in truth the message wasn’t needed as Andras had been clear over and over that “bury your gays” was not a trope that was welcome in the Ghost River Triangle, and its tendrils would not touch the hair of our beloved Waverly and Nicole.
And it didn’t. That’s not to say their lives were never in danger, they were - often! And that peril felt real and impending, yet there was a comfort in knowing everything happening on screen was driven by character and plot - in that order.
Each story in Wynonna Earp - be it light comedy like shooting your friend with a t-shirt gun to save them from demon possession, to the heartbreak of giving up your baby for its own good - is driven and crafted around each character, and forms a cohesive overall picture. There are no twists for the sake of twisting, only developments designed to send the characters down a new path or sweep the feet from under them.
As a show, it has clearly built on the shaky ground created by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of kickass women fighting demons in a hotchpotch mix of misfits who become family. But in the 21st century, it has built far from that into its own territory. There’s none of the lingering misogyny or problematic aspects of its forerunner, and it has a central female character who is hard-living, hard-drinking, skimpily clad but is never punished for that - subliminally or not.
It’s a joyous romp with a fluctuating group of female leads - both good and evil, and everyplace in between - representative of all, and a back-up group of male characters just as eclectic. No character is beyond redemption and (almost) none are angelic, choices are made and decisions may come from self-interest or selflessness and mistakes spill from the mouths and hearts of every character. Which reminds me, Wynonna Earp isn’t just home to the delightful Wayhaught ship, for het-ship fans there’s another treat in the ship between Wynonna herself and Doc Holliday.
While Wayhaught is all fluidity and light, Doc and Wynonna is all spikes and fires. Yet both are as hot as, well, Haught. And neither runs out of any steam in the 4 seasons the show has been on air.
Ostensibly the 4th season was the final one, though the campaign to #BringWynonnaHome for a 5th and final season continues, with the ever devoted Earpers putting their all into ensuring these characters get another go round the block.
If it is true that a show can be judged by its fandom, Wynonna Earp is very evidently not just a show that can be trusted, but embraced. Its fandom reflects the nature of the show - where all have a place, problems can be talked through (and drunk through!), and no one gets left behind.
Emily Andras has wrangled something special into being, and if you’re looking for something to binge that will keep you on the edge of your seat but always reward you for watching, Wynonna Earp may be the show for you. And - spoiler warning for those who need to know what they are getting into - there’s only one major character death, and there are happy endings in abundance. There is also, most importantly for ship shows, a wedding - and everyone is welcome.
You can catch Wynonna Earp on Netflix, Syfy and 5Spike in the UK