9:58 pm - 11/07/2012

“The Golden Age of TV” x TV Wives: A depressing undercurrent of misogyny

Earlier this week, there was a recap posted on Grantland about the latest episode of The Walking Dead, which made some great overall points about the show and its underselling of their own characters, and also touched on a very disturbing trend happening with most of our currently critically beloved shows – the absolute hatred most fandoms seem to have for the wives in them:

(btw, I shouldn’t have to point out how SPOILERY this is, since, like I already mentioned, it’s a recap of the latest episode – but still, just for good measure: Spoilers ahead.)

(…) As befits a character always treated as second-class, T-Dog’s dismemberment was overshadowed by a much more outrageous death last night. And the fact that it’s taken me 900 words just to get to the part of the episode that everyone is talking about reveals my ambivalence. To recap: In an act of perfect TV karma, Lori goes into labor while on the run from a swarm of walkers. In the relative peace and lack of hygiene of a boiler room, she realizes “something is wrong” and insists that Maggie cut the baby out of her, likely ending her life. With a level of uterine gore not seen since Prometheus and a dash of Oedipal agony unimaginable even by Sophocles, this is precisely what happens.

Now, in the short view, there is a part of me that admires the unblinking savagery of Mazzara’s vision. As appalling as everything that happened in the boiler room was, it certainly was consistent with the miserable universe The Walking Dead has created, a place where tough choices are inevitable, pain is unavoidable, and life — particularly young life — is to be protected at any cost. All actresses, inevitably, are asked to perform an agonizing birth scene at least once in their careers, and Sarah Wayne Callies was excellent here. For once, her innate fierceness was used for something other than accusatory snark; in her wide-eyed and desperate good-bye to her son, there was a hint of the ferocious and protective warrior/mother the character could have become with better development and more thoughtful scripts.

As quick as I’ve been to label Lori Grimes one of the worst protagonists on television, the intensity of fan hatred has continually given me pause. There’s a depressing undercurrent of misogyny to a lot of the reaction toward TV wives these days, from Skyler White to Cat Stark. It’s something I’ve been guilty of harping on as much as anyone. But a large part of the blame rests in the writing, the perpetual creation of an impossible dynamic wherein the cool husband wants to do fun and/or violent stuff and the snippy wife is always trying to harsh his mellow. As a TV fan, I wasn’t unhappy to see Lori Grimes go. And the atrocity of it all brought out the best in the normally wooden Andrew Lincoln and certainly made the burden on young Chandler Riggs — who, thus far as an actor, has proven to be all hat and no cattle — even greater. But the exact way she went out was an even greater bummer than the irritating scold the character had become.

Lori’s final words to Carl, before sacrificing herself in front of his young eyes, sounded to me like an unnecessary apology, not a loving good-bye. “It’s so easy to do the wrong thing in this world,” she moaned. “If it feels wrong, don’t do it. If it feels easy, don’t do it.” What she was referring to, of course, was her utterly reasonable decision to bed down with Shane, a trusted and caring family friend, amid the looming horror of the end of the world. Her ongoing guilt and suffering for this is and has always been outrageous; surely a reality in which burying a machete into a man’s widow’s peak is a heroic act can forgive a little post-traumatic nookie. There’s a difference between the admirably unforgiving worldview Mazzara is trumpeting elsewhere and downright cruelty. There were plenty of reasons for Lori Grimes to die; it’s a shame that her capital offense turned out to be the simple act of being alive.

Also embedding the video linked to in the article:

Full article at the source
ms_mmelissa 8th-Nov-2012 12:31 am (UTC)
There’s a depressing undercurrent of misogyny to a lot of the reaction toward TV wives these days

So true. I really hate both how fans react to Betty Draper Francis, but over the past few seasons it's been really apparent that the show no longer has any respect for her either. Weiner specifically called her a child and the directors have actually done shots where they frame her the way they frame Sally. It's really grotesque and says a lot about how they view women.
brokenseas 8th-Nov-2012 12:46 am (UTC)
IA. Betty was an amazing character with flaws, but the writers have clearly abandoned her.
tsarinakate1 8th-Nov-2012 01:05 am (UTC)
This. She is such a product of her time - she obviously loved being a model and didn't want to have kids, but wasn't strong enough to go against convention. She could have been SUCH an awesome amazing character study - but instead they listened to the fan hate and just screwed her over.

This, among other reasons, is why I refuse to watch this show anymore.
ms_mmelissa 8th-Nov-2012 01:10 am (UTC)
After the total lack of character development for Carla/Dawn and that interview Weiner did where he trivialized the senior partners pimping out Joan and said that the civil rights movement wasn't really happening in the 60s (lol what???) I'm pretty much done with the show too.

I don't fucking care about Don or his man pain and I don't think the show is ever going to address the things I am interested in.
enema_recipe 8th-Nov-2012 01:24 am (UTC)
I wish Weiner received more hate tbh. Everything he's said regarding race and women has been horrible, and yet everyone wastes their breath hating on Lena Dunham instead. Ughhh
ms_mmelissa 8th-Nov-2012 01:27 am (UTC)
LOL I was in every Mad Men post last season hating on him.

I have enough disgust for both him AND Lena Dunham!
the_wolski 8th-Nov-2012 07:08 am (UTC)
m t e

tsarinakate1 8th-Nov-2012 01:25 am (UTC)
I stopped watching after Don fucked everyone over to have a sabbatical with that hippie family at the end of season 2.

This is a man I am supposed to fucking cheer for?

But I have followed the story, and that shit is insane - the Civil Rights thing makes me rage like a mother. Fuck them.
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