Since Mass Effect 2’s release 11 years ago, fans have wondered why Jack was could only be romanced by a male Commander Shepard, since she makes references to being with partners of different genders in some of her voice lines. After the original game’s launch in 2007, Fox News held a panel about the game’s depictions of sex and sexuality. The panel criticized both Mass Effect 1’s sex scenes and the ability to romance Liara T’Soni as either a male or female Shepard.
Talking about the development of Jack’s romance in an interview with The Gamer, writer Brian Kindregan said: “She was essentially pansexual for most of the development of that romance.” But the Fox News panel created a domino effect that changed things.
“Mass Effect had been pretty heavily and really unfairly criticized in the US by Fox News, which at the time… maybe more people in the world thought that there was a connection between reality and what gets discussed on Fox News,” Kindregan said. “The development team of Mass Effect 2 was a pretty progressive, open-minded team, but I think there was a concern at pretty high levels that if [the first] Mass Effect, which only had one gay relationship, Liara – which on paper was technically not a gay relationship because she was from a mono-gendered species – I think there was a concern that if that had drawn fire, that Mass Effect 2 had to be a little bit careful.”
Courtenay Taylor, the actress who voiced Jack, also was under the impression that Jack was supposed to be a pansexual character. In an interview with The Gamer, she said: “It’s funny to me because my understanding was always that she was pansexual. So I don’t know if that’s just something I inferred from the character or something that she said that maybe got cut. I was surprised there wasn’t a female romance possible because that was my understanding.”
Despite this understanding from both her original writer and actor, Jack was made a heterosexual romance option, and with Liara only appearing in DLC, the only queer romances available were Kelly Chambers, Samara, and Morinth. No queer men were made available at all, and Samara and Morinth aren’t actual romance options, as Samara will turn Shepard down and Morinth will literally kill them.
With the Mass Effect: Legendary Collection, some fans are hoping that will get a second chance. Mass Effect 2 will be included in this collection, which may be releasing in March. We’ll have to wait and see if those hopes come to fruition.
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