Goodbye, Abbie, and thoughts for Fox
The last post I left on Project.fox.com…
First, I will say it now… I hope they do not move forward with Season 4. The chemistry between Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie is not something that could be duplicated. The initial chemistry, which was dulled by misstep after misstep by the showrunners, writers, and, I would imagine, network heads, was on par with the stars of Old Hollywood. Gable and Lombard, Powell and Loy, Bogie and Bacall all come to mind when I think of the luminously beautiful spark between the two actors. In addition to their natural charm and playful affection, they brought intelligence, integrity, and talent to the show. Even if the premise of the show was at times laughable, they brought a certain HONESTY to the show that kept us hooked. As things deteriorated, the spark seemed to dim. Which brings me to my second point.
While the characters themselves were color-neutral (except for a few references to slavery), the way the characters were treated was not. The main female character was relegated to second tier status while white females were constantly paraded in front of us as a palatable love interest for Crane, never mind the incredible chemistry that existed between Nicole and Tom. Every effort was made to sideline Abbie Mills, so much so that even the writers had to acknowledge the slight by having Danny quote #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter, a fan “favorite” that showed our displeasure with how Abbie was pushed into the “strong black woman” trope - she doesn’t need love, affection, or acknowledgement of her femininity. We clamored to see a positive love interest, to see Abbie in a dress, being soft, being loved, being told she was beautiful. Instead, we had Katrina fans disrespecting Abbie, and even Nicole (because how could a good-looking, cultured white man like Crane POSSIBLY love someone like her?). Our “standras” seem to have won, but.. and I know it will come off as ugly and bitter… because that’s exactly how I feel right now and I really am all out of… well, you can fill in the blanks… I hope that the show goes down with the Ichabbie ship. Instead of her fellow Witness showing her affection and love, we have a controlling, manipulative man (and don’t get me started on the hyper-aggressive black male trope…) using her to get ahead, even slyly quoting that “Abbie Mills deserves better.” Again, sleepywriters rub our faces in their passive-aggressive filth. You want Abbie to have someone? HERE ya go. Enjoy. And we’ll do it in the most disrespectful, out of character, desperate-to-be-loved, crass manner possible, by having her BOSS kiss her in a glass-paned office. We’ll even throw in Jenny and Joe as a consolation prize (the pharaohs would have been proud of this incestuous mashup)…. It makes me wonder what Nicole ever did to them to deserve this blatant disrespect and hate. And the fans, the people who SUPPORT the show, SUPPORT the advertising, BUY the gear, and give of their time, talent, and HEARTS, quite frankly deserve it even less. We are not even getting paid to take this!
There is a dearth of positive black female professionals on television; we either have Olivia Pope, a brilliant, successful, beautiful woman who is still relegated to “side chick” status (because, obviously, she doesn’t deserve the dignity and respect of a man of her own), or Cookie, a street-smart woman who, despite her intelligence, charm, and ambition, reinforces many negative stereotypes about black women. In Abbie Mills, we had a woman who was loyal, dignified, intelligent, and devoted to those she loved. WE FELL IN LOVE WITH HER BECAUSE WE COULD ALSO RESPECT HER. WE ASPIRED TO BE LIKE HER. And she, along with the fans who love her, was jerked around and treated like garbage. What it tells young black women is that you can be successful, but you can’t have integrity. You can be the side chick, but you don’t deserve an HONEST, loving relationship of your own (looking at you, Danny!). You can be smart, but you can’t be successful, smart AND desirable. Your life has less worth than your white counterparts. Indeed, we had more closure and reflection on Caroline than we did on Abbie. Abbie consistently sacrificed herself (yet another trope…). Even though Crane was a Witness longer, he was not called on again and again to make the ultimate sacrifice. While she dove headfirst into the tempest that took her to the 18th century, or stayed behind in Purgatory, Crane always hesitated on the sidelines, calling her name in anguish, spouting nonsensical “wedding vows” that had no substance. As fans, we became tired of it. And we felt insulted by it (not just women of color, but our friends, allies who GET it).
The blatant disregard the writers show to the fans is just appalling. We were constantly ship-baited, and honestly, if it weren’t for our loyalty to TOM and NICOLE, who seem like nice people, we would have “jumped ship” long ago. We just couldn’t let go of those two! But as much as I respect Tom as an actor, I will not be tuning in to see him with another witness - it would feel like “cheating,” honestly, to see his affections transferred to another person. Making Abbie Mills just another step along the way of HIS journey is yet another bow to sacrificing the person of color to the superior white protagonist. Everything had to be through the white gaze, whether it was who would be sacrificed, or what woman was suitable for Crane. Even Campbell saying that somehow Betsy, a friend and colleague, was necessary to “hand off” Crane’s affection was yet another instance of this… and even before the fiasco that was the SERIES finale (I hope), we noticed. And we didn’t like it. And it would dishonor Nicole and how many fans felt that she was treated to support the show. Now that she is gone, we don’t need to make that sacrifice. And it is a sacrifice to rewatch a show on multiple platforms just to keep the show afloat and support the actors we believe in. We were working since Season 2 to make up for uneven writing/pacing and wildly implausible plots full of holes. We tweeted. We posted. We wrote the fan fiction to assuage our hurt feelings when the writers refused to acknowledge our feelings and what we perceived on screen as the TRUTH. We signed petitions, stayed up late, and took time away from our REAL lives to give back to something that, at least in the beginning, brought us a little joy. We overlooked lazy writing and gaping plot holes in order to keep up the good fight and support the show and actors we loved. But we were not loved or respected in return. We were mocked. We were lied to. We were manipulated. And we were constantly thrown over for either the writers’ ego/amusement or smaller fan groups whose agenda coincided with the writers’ mindsets. And it is tragic because at times you had such beautiful dialogue (Incommunicado), and the sets, costumes, and special effects were on point. WHAT A WASTE BECAUSE OF SEEMINGLY UNPROFESSIONAL, SPITEFUL WRITERS AND WHO KNOWS what kind of network executives. We were told that, if the series was not renewed, things would be tied up nicely. Is writing off the main character not important? It was done to not even give us the closure of a true confession of love or even “hugging it out.” It was constantly thrown in our face that Crane loved and desired Abbie, and that she probably felt the same way. Again, our hand-play bestie-bro strikes again (we were nervous when we saw who was writing the finale, but we had no idea… it was EXPONENTIALLY worse than we thought). In reading Tumblr, I am almost moved to tears. People GRIEVING. GRIEVING! This show sparked their creativity, spirited them away from their daily woes, and gave them honorable characters they could look up to and aspire to be. This is GONE for them, for US, and we are rightfully FURIOUS. Even other fandoms are reaching out to sympathize with us.
I like Tom Mison, and I think he is immensely talented. I hope that this show is given a proper burial so that he can go and find a project worthy of him. I hope and pray that Nicole will be treated as the incredibly talented, charming STAR she is in her future projects. And fandom tends to have a long memory; ill will can last a long time (SleepyHollowFOX, who in the ultimate trollathon, used the hashtag #Ichabbie for the first time just last week, as well as posted 15 bond whatever the hell it was on their website… I don’t even care at this point). And I hope that, if for some reason there is a Season 4, the loyal, intelligent, caring fandom that are the sleepyheads rise up and say “enough is enough” and tune out. I hope that other shows (because you are hemorrhaging viewers left and right… Sleepy Hollow is trending for sure, but not for the right reasons!) will learn from these missteps. Fox has squandered what could have been the next X-Files, and we are all the poorer for it.