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
soavantgarde 8th-Nov-2012 12:32 am (UTC)
I love everything this comment chooses to be

my bb girl gets SO MUCH hate as if she's the only character in this series who does really shitty stuff, blame her entirely for joffrey (lol mb if he didn't have an absent father he was obsessed with impressing he wouldn't've been such a complete fuckhead), call her a cheating whore blah blah for what she does to jaime, etc

they need to stfd

cyberghostface 8th-Nov-2012 12:36 am (UTC)
my bb girl gets SO MUCH hate as if she's the only character in this series who does really shitty stuff

Nope, but she definitely does some of the most horrible stuff. The people that are worse than her are the complete monsters like Ramsay and Gregor.
soavantgarde 8th-Nov-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
okay lets sit back and remember the time jaime pushed a 7 yr old out of a window with the intent to kill him

or the time jon decided to chop off janos slynt's head bc he was being a jerk

or the time tyrion raped a girl

or the other time tyrion raped a girl

or when theon betrays the starks and gets a shitton of their people killed

or when robert beats and rapes cersei

idk I mean she definitely does a LOT of terrible shit but tbh I rank other people just as high as she is
cyberghostface 8th-Nov-2012 12:56 am (UTC)
NONE of those characters are as bad as Cersei. Jaime and Theon at the very least are both on the path of redemption whereas Cersei is just getting progressively worse as the series go on.

And I'm not really sure if Jon killing Slynt is a mark against him.
nebulous_mirage 8th-Nov-2012 02:09 am (UTC)
um, when the hell did tyrion rape any girl?
agatharuncible 8th-Nov-2012 03:54 am (UTC)
she does some of the most horrible things (in the books) but there are characters who do so much worse. plus half of her psycho antics can be explained by the fact that her life was never easy from the start and that as a woman it's a lot harder to navigate the world she lives in. most people would be paranoid too.
sensualcoco 8th-Nov-2012 12:39 am (UTC)
I haven't read the books so I have no idea what goes down in the future, but so far in the show I actually think Cersei is one of the most reasonable characters.
Her husband didn't love her, he fucked other people and so did she. The things she does are to protect her children. And it seemed the the worst things that happened were because Joffrey doesn't listen.
ronnie_luvs_u 8th-Nov-2012 12:42 am (UTC)
she's pretty batshit in the later books and does a shit ton of cruel stuff. she's no rose, but is fun to read.
soavantgarde 8th-Nov-2012 12:43 am (UTC)
yeah they show a more sympathetic side to cersei on the show for sure, but it's all reasonable shit (the stuff w robert, stuff about protecting her bbs, etc)

people just like to look at her as some power hungry crazy, which she is, but she's so much more than that too and ppl just write her off (esp the male side of fandom) bc 'omg crazy evil cunt'
cyberghostface 8th-Nov-2012 12:59 am (UTC)
She's a lot worse in the books. I mean in the books SHE'S the one who had the infants and other bastards killed, not Joffrey.
everyforever 8th-Nov-2012 01:59 am (UTC)
she's batshit but i love her.
agatharuncible 8th-Nov-2012 03:56 am (UTC)
TV!Cersei is so much nicer, she was actually one of my favourite characters until I read the books. book!Cersei is much less reasonable, but I still like reading her scenes and I can understand why she'd be so paranoid.
yinake 8th-Nov-2012 02:03 am (UTC)
tbh I do not blame Cersei for how she treats Robert or Jaime (like her better than Jaime, really), the cheating, her having sex with whomever, or pretty much 90% of what she does but what did legitimately give me pause was when she was all, "these shriveled-up septas probably want some raping" in AFFC because that sort of view on rape is a big, big trigger for me.

She is entertaining, though, and far from my most-hated character.
soavantgarde 8th-Nov-2012 02:15 am (UTC)
yeah she is definitely one of the more misogynistic characters in the series tbh

the way her feelings about women stem from her relationship with her father/how society treats her as a woman and how she had to literally see the life she could have had if she had been born male via jaime interest me a lot

also the way she uses sex as a weapon, isn't afraid to use femininity to her advantage, etc. but ia her views on women are v problematic
agatharuncible 8th-Nov-2012 04:02 am (UTC)
ugh, yes. that and when King Robert's council is discussing what to do with Sansa's friend (Jeyne?) and she pretty much gives Littlefinger a green light to go ahead and sell her or w/e. dnw.

(at the same time, several of the problems she starts out with seem to be caused by there mere fact that she's a woman and women in Westeros are treated like crap. ressenting the way you're treated because of your gender + being made to feel like you have to compete with other women for things that can cost your life = girl hate levels go through the roof)
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