|The very first issue of SH Magazine.|
What's wrong with this picture?
I saved all my ranting for behind-the-scenes emails with Ankh, but I wasn’t happy. I saw this train coming down the tracks starting at around the halfway mark of season one, but to see it play out in real time was disheartening and rage-inducing. I noped out before it could get any worse, but alas, it has indeed gotten worse. How you ask?
On the season finale of Sleepy Hollow, during Black History Month no less, Abbie is time traveling back to the 18th century and will be mistaken for a runaway slave. She’s going to be imprisoned in a colonial jail cell (because sure…that’s all that happened to runaway slaves back then), until the kind-hearted, understanding Ichabod--who doesn't remember who she is--“earns her freedom." WTF?! It's like really, really bad fanfiction come to life. Happy Black History Month everybody!
Y’all, I can’t even.
I was flabbergasted when I first read this last night, and I remain flabbergasted as I write this today. I can’t believe after all the complaints and criticism they faced from both fans and critics alike this season—not to mention the plummeting ratings—that they’d think this was a good idea. Fox had to step in this season to right the ship, and these last few episodes were supposed to incorporate those changes.
Listen, the season one writers might have been able to pull this off with the sensitivity it deserves, but even that’s not given. It’s a hard enough task for good writers to manage, but this new bunch of (way less diverse) writers? Hell and no. Judging by what we’ve seen from them this season, they haven’t proven they’re capable to handle such weighty material with any finesse or delicacy. As a runaway slave, Abbie would be subject to all sorts of terrible things happening to her: ape, beatings, death. Is that going to be explored? Is the abject terror and uncertainty that she’d be feeling by being put into such a situation going to be touched upon at all? Or is there going to be a bunch of hand-waving and a quick, neat resolution that ignores the horror and sheer brutality of slavery? I think we all know the answer to that.
I’m sure they thought they were doing a clever parallel to the pilot episode when Ichabod was the one in jail thinking that Abbie was an emancipated slave, but…no. They should’ve left it alone. Because even if it turns out to be the best hour of television in history, why does she have to be thought of as a slave at all? Why can’t she be a free black woman? Why the slave narrative? To show that Ichabod was one of the good white people? To put Abbie in her place? What is the purpose here? Seems to me that that only reason to go back to the 1700s is to make Katrina the central plot point. Again. So both in the past and the present, Katrina has been placed above Abbie this season. In the present, she’s been pushed forward by the writers as the de-facto lead, and in the past, she’s literally being positioned above her as a human being. Wow.
Nicole Beharie is the lead actress of this show. She’s a Julliard trained thespian who is one of the main reasons the show was such a big hit last season, and she doesn’t deserve this. We also deserve better as an audience. Especially after fighting for her character so hard with the #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter Twitter campaign that was the catalyst for bringing Abbie’s plight to the forefront.
I'm hurt, I'm angry, and I’m tired. Every season, I get excited by the very few new shows that we get that feature black female leads or prominent black female characters. I always foolishly think to myself "this show will be the one that won't sideline, or underutilize, or marginalize them." And every season like clockwork, I’m disappointed. It starts out good enough, and then inevitably, bullshit happens. Joss Carter was marginalized and then killed off. Iris West has been erased from promos and has been getting minimal screentime on a show she’s supposed to be the female lead on (which is why I haven't written any BGNO for her lately). Michonne has yet to find love or even an inkling of it in the zombie apocalypse although everyone else on the show seems to be doing just fine on that front. Abbie has been sidelined all season and is now being reduced to a slave role on her own show. And I don’t care if it’s just for one minute. It’s a minute too long. It shouldn’t be.
Hollywood keeps pulling this bait and switch crap and while they do want our eyeballs, they can’t seem to muster up enough decency to treat us or the characters that look like us with the respect they deserve. The good thing is that people are tweeting at the writers, the network, and the producers expressing their outrage and frustration. Someone is listening if this exchange is any indication:
A. Baiers has tweeted this out about the synopsis for the season finale.
Supposedly, FOX has been getting copies of the synopsis deleted on Tumblr citing copyright laws (this comes from the blog I'd linked to), so I've taken it down here just in case. I don't know what's going on behind-the-scenes at FOX, but whatever it is, it's coming across as disorganized and unprofessional. None of this makes me feel any better about the finale.