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‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Keeps Selling Its Female Characters Short

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 25, 2021

Fear The Walking Dead has a female character problem.

I’ve gotten some pushback for my review of last night’s episode on Twitter from the usual suspects.

They have resorted to the usual tactics, as well, asserting that because I found Grace intolerable to watch in this episode I am somehow “sexist” or “mysoginistic.” Some have gone so far as to say that they hope nobody suffering postpartum depression ever reads my review because it might be traumatizing, as though Fear itself hasn’t been responsible for exploiting motherhood and the loss of a baby.

I have faced similar attacks every time I’ve critiqued a female Walking Dead character, whether that’s Michonne or Maggie or Carol. Naturally, I am accused of other things when I critique Morgan or Rick or Negan (though I think Negan is great now).

But this time, it’s the sexism claims because I critiqued Grace who, Twitter is quick to remind me, is suffering from postpartum depression after losing her baby last season.

In the following Twitter thread I respond to The Walking Dead World’s critique that my review is a “gross article” because “Grace is suffering from severe grief over losing her baby during childbirth, but she’s somehow selfish and the villain for not wanting to take care of a baby that’s not hers?”

I’ll point out just a couple things:

First of all, yes it’s pretty damn selfish to not take care of a baby just because you lost your own given the circumstances. Are we really arguing here that leaving the baby to die alone in the middle of a zombie/nuclear apocalypse is what we should expect from a woman who is grieving? That strikes me as a genuinely sexist assumption. Women who are grieving deserve empathy, but that doesn’t mean they get a free pass. Even the crazy people in last night’s episode wanted to take care of baby Mo after the death of their infant.

Second, Grace is only suffering from postpartum depression because the showrunners exploited both her and viewers by airing the episode “In Dreams” on Mother’s Day. This is an episode where Grace has a full-blown vision of her daughter, Athena, as a teenager only to wake up and give birth to a stillborn child. On Mother’s Day.

Shock value much?

Then they just sort of dropped Grace’s trauma for the rest of the season until now, after a time-jump, they’ve dug it back out to use it again.

The problem, of course, isn’t that she’s suffering from postpartum depression it’s that the writer’s make her look bad the entire time. I don’t think this is how anyone would act, many months later, in the midst of a zombie/nuclear apocalypse. I don’t think any of these characters act like real people. And that’s a writing problem. That’s a showrunner problem.

Indeed, my entire critique of Grace is centered around how badly her character is written in this episode—I mention that actor Karen David should be pissed off about the script, and that the writers “torpedo” her character.

This is not sexist. This is me defending Grace from the writers and showrunners who clearly don’t care about exploiting her character.

It sure is convenient to have fangirls and fanboys rush to the show’s defense and attack those Very Mean Critics with accusations of misogyny, though. That’s some convenient cover to hide behind.

Almost always, my critiques of both male and female characters in these shows are aimed at the writing choices (and occasionally the acting, though it’s usually fine or only crappy because of the crappy lines they have to say).

For instance, I’ve critiqued how they neutered Alicia’s character, making her paint trees and act like a Morgan-Lite instead of the leader and badass she really is, or at least ought to have become. I also bring up regularly how Alycia Debnam-Carey should be the lead of the show instead of Morgan.

How sexist of me! How much do you have to hate women to argue such a thing?

I was deeply critical of how Michonne exited The Walking Dead, but not because I was angry at Michonne or Danai Gurira, but because I believed her character would never abandon her children like that, and that it was a fault of the writers and producers to send her off in such a bizarre, inexplicably selfish manner. It was a cop-out, pure and simple.

Carol is often in my crosshair because she’s just so all over the place all the time, written into one stupid corner after another. Is this because I hate women? Or is it possible that I just want Carol to finally become the tough-as-nails leader she ought to be by now, willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and protect her people. Not this weepy, emotionally-driven person who nobody can ever trust.

Maggie has returned to The Walking Dead and been given exactly one emotion: Anger. She’s angry at Negan all the time and comes across as a shallow, one-note character while Negan, somehow, gets all the better lines, all the introspection. I’m happy they’ve found a way to make Negan relatable, but did it have to come at Maggie’s expense?

I realize that nobody accusing me of this will be convinced otherwise. It’s much easier to attack a critic than to accept that this show you (somehow) still enjoy is doing these characters a massive disservice. But I’ll just point out that I didn’t even really like Madison as a character and I still think they did her dirty (and by extension, Kim Dickens, who was supposed to be the lead on this show from the beginning).

In fact, Fear The Walking Dead was a pretty balanced show at one point, with both female and male leads represented close to equally—though Madison was clearly the central protagonist.

Once the new showrunners took over, Morgan became the center of everything, Madison was out and Alicia was relegated to a secondary character who barely gets any screen-time and doesn’t even act like herself anymore.

But hey, I’m the sexist one.

Oh well. Gross article. Clearly hates women enough to defend them in his very mean reviews over and over again. 0/10 stars.

P.S. When I called Gracie an “idiot child” it was, once again, because of how they wrote her character in the “hurricane” episode this season. You can read my review of that episode right here. In it I point out that it’s ludicrous to portray her character as so sheltered and naïve after being raised during the apocalypse and not fair to Gracie at all to make her the cause of so many problems. Monster.

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