Dear Mr LD Jackson
First of all: Hi and welcome to the fandom! I’m sorry you’re joining it so late in the game and thus is being immediately subjected to the nastier parts of fandom interactions - you’ve been tossed into the deep end of the pool right away and that’s probably not a nice way to learn how to swim. But swim you must, if you’re gonna be a TV writer - especially one that interacts with fans on twitter, which you should and can do very successfully if you know how - and I would like to help you.
I’m sure the other writers and producers have told you some of what’s been going on. Probably you’ve even seen some of it online yourself. I’m also sure a lot of it is true, or at the very least true for them. This is our truth, or mine at least because I don’t pretend I speak for the entire fandom or even the part of it on tumblr I’m fortunate enough to be part of, this is what you’re walking into:
Most of us fell in love with this show within the first half of season one. The things we love about the show can all be found there - the instantaneous connection and chemistry between Ichabod/Tom and Abbie/Nicole, the fraught and rich relationship between Jenny and Abbie, the spooks, the thrills, the silly fun times with Ichabod vs the modern world, the spectacular skills of the actors and potential of the characters, with especially the complex and layered performance of Abbie making her a compelling and relatable lead. We had only a few misgivings about Katrina, but the hope and trust that she would be developed further in a way that made sense and payed off. This was the second time we extended our trust to the writers of the show - the first being when jumping into this crazy show with it’s crazy premise in the first place and investing in the characters.
Then season one wrapped up and people were unhappy with certain developments, not least Crane’s casual betrayal of Abbie’s trust and Katrina being brought into the 21th century and yet again placed in distress. But again, we hoped and we trusted, we waited to see. Alarm bells went off during Comic Con with typical racially charged arguments against Ichabbie being made and worrying spoilers emerging - again we pushed it away, we committed to the show, we invested our time and emotions and we hoped, and we trusted, and we waited to see.
What we ended up seeing was the mess that was season 2 - you seem like a smart guy who is well aware of most of what went wrong there so I’ll skip that part - and the responses from the writers and producers to our concerns about this. A hashtag was made advocating better treatment for Abbie - it was met with angry defensiveness, more calls to wait and see that were never delivered on, and the pushback from the racist Ichatrina shippers was supported by the writers. Raven Metzner favorited and retweeted them, and responded to callouts on this with aggression and condescension. I don’t have all of it saved, but I do have this:
He also favorited a tweet referring to us as “not real fans” - I believe it has since been deleted but a screenshot might exist somewhere still.
Speaking of Deliverance, this embarrassment of an episode that made use of one of the most sexist tropes TV has to offer - the mystical pregnancy - and once again robbed Katrina of her agency and reduced her to her reproductive parts while simultaneously sidelining Abbie to bodyguard and midwife and being outvoted by Crane and the wife he spent half his time mistrusting, was capped off with most of the writing team/official SH twitter account making distasteful jokes about it:
Again, any attempts to point this out were met with hostile defensiveness and more “wait and see”. (Personal sidenote: I had a bit of a breakdown at the end of this episode because it was here I first truly lost hope for the first time. I managed to get it back, eventually, but it was mostly due to wanting to stay in the fandom and I’ve never been able to forget that feeling of “wow this show is fucked” I felt there. And that was before I saw most of the twitter comments.)
Meanwhile the show’s ratings were going down, the Ichatrina fanbase kept coming with their BS and we kept on campaigning for better writing/direction. We were told the special Mills-centric episode Mama was coming up (which mostly delivered) the midseason finale would be amazing and to wait and see yet again - and we did, and we saw Frank get unceremoniously killed off, by the son of the lead who was then “redeemed” by killing off the central villain with direct connections to the Mills sisters, the one piece of the puzzle not solely tied to Crane. Fans left, fans came back, we were disappointed yet again, but most of us stuck it out because once more the narrative shifted - now the writers were listening, acknowledging things had gotten off course, and in the final few episodes things would be steered straight! Wait and see!
And finally, mostly and in stutters and stumbles, it did start to look like things were turning around. The final episodes of the season weren’t perfect but they did provide the show with a lifeline, a way where we could see the show being salvageable. So once again we invested our hope, we extended our trust and we fought to get the show renewed, some of us working around the clock to rally support - we organized trending campaigns and rewatch parties on twitter, we worked on back-up ideas of approaching sponsors, all the usual fandom tricks for saving shows on the bubble. And I don’t think that’s the sole reason, or perhaps even a major one, that FOX decided to renew, but I do think it was a factor, and either way it doesn’t erase the time and effort the fandom invested - all because we trusted that this time, this time it would be different. That this time our trust would be rewarded and well-placed.
The show was renewed, and after some standard “yay we did it” tweets the writers fell silent. Fine, no worries, it’s the hiatus - we all know the drill. Maybe we’ll hear something in May, around the time of the Upfronts? No? Okay, that’s cool, you guys got a late renewal, new showrunner (another thing that enforced our hopes for the reboot/return to form), you’re still working things out - we get it. Disappointed, but we can make it to Comic Con…
And then OJ “left” the show. And then Comic Con was cancelled. And then the first bit of news we heard about season 3 was that we’d be seeing a sexy spy version of Betsy Ross who, according to the casting call, would be the “Mrs Smith to Crane’s Mr Smith”. And we were officially concerned. We found out Orlando didn’t leave of his own choice, and the concerns grew stronger. We kept reaching out on twitter and getting nothing back.
Which brings us to yesterday, where our fears of history repeating itself seemed confirmed by the announcement that at last (I know - come from the media, not you, but it was made possible by the casting call and by extension the role you, the writers, created) Sleepy Hollow had a sexy female character in sexy Betsy Ross who would be a regular and played by predictable casting choice (but undoubtedly a fine actress and great person) Nikki Reed. We’d swap out incompetent “spy” Katrina in tight corsets who was there for Crane’s benefit (and not Abbie’s) for this supposedly skilled spy … in tight corsets, who’s there for Crane’s benefit and is unlikely to provide anything for Abbie. And not only that, but in the process we’d lost OJ as well.
Please take a moment to think how it looks to us when the only two bits of news we have to go on for the new season boils down to “black man out, white woman in” and “more hot women in corsets for Crane!”. The cherry on top was the news that SH would be crossed over with Bones, of all shows, in a desperate and sad move that I’m 100% convinced is all FOX’s doing and far beyond the writers’ control, but nonetheless doesn’t exactly go in the “good news” column.
And there you have it. I don’t think you’re in any way responsible or to be held accountable for the mistakes made on the show before you joined it, not one bit. But by jumping in between us and the writers and producers who were there, who we do have a bad history with, you’re putting yourself in the fray and shouldering some of that bad history - especially when using the exact same language as them - and that kind of forfeits your right to pretend like this is coming out of nowhere, like we’re overreacting and jumping to conclusions without base for them.
I’m sure the relationship between the fandom and the writers is riddled with misunderstandings and “two sides of every story” situations, but this is where we’re at now. We’ve been trying to establish a dialogue with the writers since season one and we’re delighted to see someone actually willing to engage with us. But it does require you to have knowledge of what you’re walking into - to, if not know both sides of the story then at least to understand that there is story here already, that you’re not coming in fresh into a new fandom. We’re more than willing to wait and see what YOU bring to this show, but the people who burned us before are still around, and frankly speaking they’re higher on the totem pole than you are. And we’re not willing to wait and see what they do, because we’ve been down that road many times already.
Fans are a passionate, hyperbolic bunch by our very nature. We’re also a force to be reckoned with, a resource you can use, and at least a little bit smarter than most people give us credit for. And when it comes to this part of this particular fandom you can always count on us to be brutally honest, because most of us have seen this all before and know all the moves to this dance, and because we care.
Even now, even with my own hopes completely gone for this show, I’m still writing this. Why? Because I’m a fan. Because even if the fandom couldn’t make a difference for this show in the end I still hold the naive, foolish hope that maybe - just maybe - something we say can register somewhere with someone and change things for the better in the future with how writers and fans interact, with how fandom is perceived and treated. And because I do still care, about the fandom which is full of some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, about the cast that made us all fall in love with this show in the first place, and about fandom and TV and the people who create it and the endless untapped potential that exists in finding ways to bridge the gaps between the three.
We need more writers like you, and I need you to know that we’re more than just the knee-jerk reactions you see coming into a show with two years worth of the worst baggage I’ve seen in my 20-odd years of online fandom. This didn’t happen overnight, it’s not all that we are and it’s definitely not all that we can be.
Thank you for your time.