If you haven’t gathered by now, we kind of think Wynonna Earp is TV’s latest and greatest oddball. A show about Wyatt Earp’s demon-killing great-great granddaughter, Wynonna Earp isn’t like anything else on television. Though it’s garnered comparisons to Buffy and Jessica Jones, it is unquestionably its own thing — its own weird, fantastic, bold, beautifully feminist story. Wynonna Earp is a breath of fresh air in a crowded TV landscape, thanks in large part to its strong female voices and its titular hero, who’s a gun-toting bonafide badass, even with powdered sugar on her nose.
Wynonna Earp is powered by unapologetic female strength, and one of the biggest sources of that strength comes from the show’s onscreen driving force: Melanie Scrofano, who plays Wynonna.
Scrofano’s Wynonna is something of an outlier. It’s not often enough that we see women on TV who get to be the center of the story without being made two-dimensional, agreeable or “palatable.” Often, our female characters made to be quiet, to be easy to like, to have flaws that are easy to overlook. In other words, they’re not real. Too often, they’re not complex or fresh, but are sort of rehashed mishmashes of what someone else thinks women are like when they’re not around men. For the most part, those characters are reductive, inaccurate and boring.
Wynonna’s different, though. She’s not quiet. Her flaws and mistakes aren’t things like clumsiness or not knowing what offsides means. She accidentally killed her father. She all but abandoned her hometown and her little sister. She’s hurt people — killed people. She’s not the kind of character that’s created to be toothless and likable, but she’s easy to love because she’s rich, complex, multi-faceted and fundamentally human.
She’s as funny as she is flawed, and above all, she’s a female hero that feels fresh, with power that has much more to do with who she is than with what she can do. Sure, Wynonna may have a kickass demon-killing gun, but even Peacemaker’s a solid second place to her hero’s heart — undeniably her greatest weapon.
Much of Wynonna Earp’s power comes from its singular tone, and the deftness with which Scrofano carries that tone — bringing life to Wynonna so thoroughly that she feels as real and genuine when she’s cracking jokes as she does when she’s hunting demons — is paramount. It’s Scrofano’s ability to make Wynonna’s quips carry as much weight as her moments of emotional intensity that makes Wynonna Earp a refreshing, goofy, intense oddball of a show thats hard not to fall in love with.
Scrofano doesn’t just play Wynonna — she powers her. In Scrofano’s hands, Wynonna moves seamlessly between strength and vulnerability, kindness and ferocity, humor and sincerity. A big part of why the show works so well is the fact that Scrofano’s rendering of Wynonna is dead-on in every moment, every scene. One of the greatest victories of Wynonna Earp is the balance it achieves between depth and levity, and that balance stems from Scrofano’s ability to make Wynonna’s humor feel every bit as important as her hurt.
Watching Wynonna Earp, it’s damn near impossible to imagine anyone else carrying the show the way Scrofano does. Her work as Wynonna doesn’t just stand out because of laser-focused comedic timing or pitch perfect delivery, but because she’s fully grounded in her character. Every decision and movement she makes feels true and affecting because she inhabits Wynonna so completely.
One of the most impressive and compelling elements of Wynonna’s character is the way in which we get to see all of her very human contradictions on display and at work. Wynonna isn’t just one thing, she’s a character that we keep getting to discover. She’s protective, fierce, angry, forgiving, clever, funny, self-doubting, bold, haunted and more, sometimes all in the same scene.
Wynonna’s depth speaks to a great deal of faith in the audience to follow and understand her multitudes, but it’s also a testament to Scrofano’s performance that these contradictions feel powerful and real. Her dexterity enables the show to become more dynamic under her influence, and it’s her portrayal of Wynonna that gives every scene the foundation it needs to pull off a unique blend of impactful meaning and unfettered genre joy.
Melanie Scrofano has proven herself a powerhouse capable of bringing depth, sincerity, humor, pain and levity to Wynonna in equal measure. Her work bringing to life a finely crafted character is what makes the show feel so solidly anchored in its tone. Wynonna Earp is a radical rarity on television, and it works so beautifully because Scrofano gives it the power it needs to be something fresh, bold and special.