Having recently failed out of Scandal because of the rapidly degenerating storyline and my actual inability to deal with the anger Fitz inspires in me, I thought to fill the void in my regular schedule by picking up Sleepy Hollow. Based on my twitter feed over the last couple of months, I knew that there was apparently a lot of chemistry between the two leads (good), that Orlando Jones has a twitter account (apparently excellent? I don’t know, he’s sure retweeted a lot), and that it was going to be horror-drama-comedy. Everyone seemed to be talking about it, and I figured, given the fandom explosion, that it might be worth watching.
Now, given the fact that my experience of watching Supernatural was a train wreck of misogyny, racism and American superiority, I spent a couple of hours checking in with people to see whether Sleepy Hollow was going to repeat history. Supernatural being largely responsible for a majority of my rage headaches, I was eager to void anything that might smack of the same mix of shitty writing and terrible politics.
But no, people largely assured me that while Sleepy Hollow played INCREDIBLY fast and loose with facts and history, and was steeped in so much Christian doctrine as to eschew pretty much all else - oddly despite showcasing an inability to check basics (it’s the Book of Revelation, not Revelations) - it wasn’t the worst thing on TV. (I do wish they’d introduce at least ONE long term character that isn’t Christian; it would be such a glorious change to actually have the presumptive doctrine of America = only Christianity challenged on screen. But I digress.) As a giant plus, I was told that the show was amazing for race given its diversity casting. Not just token side-characters here or there, but an actual diverse cast in which the majority were non-white! And they weren’t just written to be throw-away characters either!
And somehow, in all the praise for its diversity casting, I failed to ask the primary question that I should have, which is whether or not the show’s portrayal of ethnicity and culture is actually worthwhile.
Spoiler: it really isn’t.
I read OP’s Sleepy Hollow meta w/ great interest/curiousity and wanted to share with you to expand the dialogue beyond my usual trolling/shipping foolishness into some real talk about the show. Although I’ve heard many of the objections raised here in other forums I had never considered the German/Hessian issues the writer mentions and was interested by their perspective (even if I don’t completely agree with all the points raised).
Beyond the spoilerific cliffhanger, I’ve also read a fair bit of meta from the fandom who felt that Abbie’s arc/choices in the finale were a big F.U. and a violation to the audience who see her as a transformative character in terms of how she was established as a WOC/POC.
The Katrina issue aside (or maybe not if that’s at the heart of the matter) I admit that this confused me. I saw Abbie’s decision to stay behind and battle Moloch as one made with her own agency which would enable her to find answers about what happened to her and Jenny when they blacked out in the woods 13 years prior more so than it had to do with sacrificing herself to save Ichabod’s wife. I’m also not sure it actually matters if Ichabod and Katrina do come back for her (although I am convinced they have every intention of doing so) since I believe she is gonna bust out of purgatory like a bat out of hell all by her damn self. Finally, I think the choice might make more sense once we understand how her story unfolds throughout the course of season 2.
But maybe there’s something I’m missing.
Would love to hear from any/all who have concerns about the show.
Some caveats before we begin:
-I have no agenda here. I’m not engaging at the behest of the network, the producers or the writers. Just curious at to what the fandom thinks.
-All shows are invariably problematic in some respect and SH is clearly no exception. I genuinely believe that our writers are raising the bar on this kind of genre storytelling but I understand that others might feel differently.
-I humbly request that anyone who chooses to chime in on this post respect the opinion of others just as you would expect your opinion to be respected.
So with all that jibber jabber said…
Let’s do this!
See, I thought the OP was gonna discuss the issues with the characterization of the freed slaves in Sanctuary as being “happy” and content with their lot, or with the characterization of Native Americans in For the Triumph of Evil, or heck, even a more in-depth exploration of Serilda as Romani… Heck, even the unfortunate implications of having Abbie stay behind (whatever her reasons) in Purgatory in exchange for Katrina.
Hell, even the fandom’s troubling attitudes concerning a possible romance between Ichabod and Abbie and how it’s rooted in coded language (she obviously doesn’t need a man, she’s strong and independent! or my favorite: they just don’t “go” together).
Imagine my bafflement when it turns out the biggest issue OP had was with the characterizations of the Hessians.
LOL, right? Yes to all this post. If the OP had even touched on the fact that even the good whites in Sleepy Hollow would have been a lot racist, but the show in -order for Ichabod and Katrina to be seen as ‘good’ whites tends to whitewash (ahem) the attitudes of their time (it doesn’t have to be them throwing around that word, or being outwardly vile; but there was a paternalistic attitude towards blacks which were held by the Quakers who were very liberal for their time) I’d engage, because there’s a lot to be said about that. But oh no, her beef is with how white Germans back in the 18thC are characterised. LOL.
Won’t someone think of the Germans!
Like, seriously. Of all the things I can think of to point out where the show went wrong, treating the Hessians (who are quite clearly denounced as a small, cultish subsection of people and not German people as a whole) the way it does is like, nine billionth on my list.
OP literally spent most of the post complaining about the portrayal of white German men. Goodness knows the portrayal of white German men is of the utmost importance and most pressing concern on this show and in real life! Let’s just ignore the fact that Hessians were a specific group of German soldiers hired out by the British to fight in the Revolutionary War…and since the British in this particular story are on the wrong side of the apocalypse, then everyone who fights for them is on the wrong side of the apocalypse.
Of all the things to waste words on, the OP chooses…to be most upset about the portrayal of a faction of white German soldiers. Of all the meta posts to read, unfortunately Orlando stumbled on this one.
OP also cosigned some strong black women rhetoric in regards to both Jenny and Abbie.
I noped out of this post real fast.