While the episode wasn’t perfect we can only hope that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ will pull off what it has planned and at least for the time being there’s no need to dust off the #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter hashtag.
The realm of sci-fi and fantasy offers many possibilities to challenge the status quo. It’s the ultimate platform to show diversity and portray a more nuanced characterization of people. Let’s hope that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ can pull of what it has planned and there will be no need to dust off the #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter hashtag.
When I searched my mental rolodex for Black female characters in film or television who are unlikable my mind continued to circle. I was lost.
Firstly, a definition of sorts: the myth of the “strong Black woman” is loosely defined as a Black woman who is emotionally hardy to the point of feeling no pain. She is never fazed or hysterical. She is cold and calculating. She has no personal needs or desires and doesn’t complain. She can take a beating and come out on the other side unharmed. This is supposed to be seen as a good thing. Black women are “so strong” that no amount of abuse will break them. They will always keep plodding on. “Strong black women” are superhuman.
I think this show demonstrates some of the very best and the very worst of quintessential Americanism: the idea of the melting-pot and a generous cultural and mythological syncretism or ecumenism, and a fine implementation of the ideals of opportunity, liberty, and justice for all; but also a pro-American revisionism that uncritically elevates the ideals of the US above all and completely ignores the genocide at the foundation of this nation. ‘Sleepy Hollow’ mythologizes the past in a way that speaks volumes about the present.
There are precious few characters of color and particularly women of color on screen. Characters of color usually serve the primary function of helping white characters through dilemmas. If they are given their own plots, expect their storylines to be zany comic relief while the white characters deal with the serious business. …It’s 2013, so I say it’s about time that we allow women of color to shine in their own right without tacking on white ladies as a wink to ratings or as an apology, wouldn’t you agree?
I fell for Sleepy Hollow hard and fast, despite having little confidence in its actual quality or prospects of maintaining its storytelling momentum going forward. I am an easy mark for this show: The X-Files was my first favorite tv show (not counting Fraggle Rock and She-Ra, I guess), so a supernatural drama about a misfit obsessive man and his practical partner somewhat reluctantly along for the ride is catnip to me. But even I realize Sleepy Hollow could easily collapse under the weight of its own ridiculousness, what with the reanimated Revolutionary War soldier chatting with his dead witch wife across the veil and fighting demons and attempting to prevent the apocalypse (the Headless Horseman is actually DEATH, rider of a pale horse). Thankfully, Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills is there to ground this in reality.
This is a guest review in conversation by Bexy Bennett and Amanda Civitello. Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson) As a director, Tim Burton specializes in eerie, off-kilter films that frequently skirt the edge of light horror with a distinctive aesthetic; 1999’s Sleepy Hollow is one of his earliest forays into the genre. Starring Johnny Depp, […]