Unpopular Opinion: Neglect vs Death

I recently started watching The Walking Dead. Well, right now I’m on a much needed break after binging three and a half seasons of perpetual misery in 72 hours, but I do plan on continuing. Anyway, right around season two and three, amidst the Rick/Lori/Shane love triangle drama, Daryl dealing with his racist brother, Caroyl blossoming from battered wife to badass, and Andrea’s questionable taste in men, I noticed that I knew next to nothing about T-Dogg, our resident man of color. Of course there’s also Glenn, but his neglect lessened once he got a white girlfriend, though I still know more about Maggie than I do Glenn. So, in season three T-Dogg dies. Look, everybody on that show dies. They’d already killed off Lori and Shane and Dale and Merle. Freaking Merle! He was in less episodes than T-Dogg, yet even he had a richer story. And that’s the problem. That’s what made T-Dogg’s death irritating to me, not the death of a POC character in a show that already lacked them, but the blatant neglect. This is what they all have in common.

The death of Abbie Mills from Sleepy Hollow is merely a symptom of a larger problem. They wouldn’t have killed her if Nicole Beharie hadn’t wanted to leave. The problem is, Nicole Beharie wanted to leave because her character had been sidelined. The same goes for Ricky Whittle from The 100, whose neglect only started in season three. Teen Wolf didn’t kill off Kira Yukimura, but they still got rid of Arden Cho after a season of absent episodes. Bonnie Bennett is still on The Vampire Diaries, but if you compare her story to Caroline Forbes…well it’ll make you go hmmm. The Wire killed off several black men, but the cast was full of them, all complex and fully realized. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s strength doesn’t merely come from the number of POC’s in their cast, but how fleshed out they all are.

And yes, I’m aware of the disparity in numbers, but I don’t think merely holding onto the characters of color you have so they can hover on the sidelines while you meet your diversity quota is acceptable. I’m not asking show writers to give them immunity from death or suffering, just DO something with them. Give them beautiful and complex and heartbreaking stories. Treat them like you do your white characters.Like they’re actual people with actual lives. If history is any indication, progress comes in baby steps. Hey Hollywood, how about you start there?

 

Trending Topics: Minority Deaths & Disappearances

Abby:  Well, there was the announcement from Arden Cho that she wouldn’t be coming back for season 6 of Teen Wolf. That’s been causing a major uproar.
Erica:  Along with Kat Graham leaving TVD (The Vampire Diaries).  And Ricky Whittle leaving The 100. And Abbie getting killed on Sleepy Hollow.
Abby:  All of them talked about not getting good storylines or being relegated to the background.  Arden Cho announced it via her youtube channel and she clearly didn’t understand why.
 
Erica:  There was no reason for it.
Abby:  No, I mean, I never watched Sleepy Hollow so I can’t speak for it but unlike the other major death – Laurel Lance on Arrow – all of the characters had so much more story telling use and so much importance.
Erica:  I haven’t watched Teen Wolf for a while. Or TVD. Never got into Sleepy Hollow. But I have a theory about why Ricky was getting less screen time. And it wouldn’t be a popular one.
Abby:  Kira (Arden’s character) and Bonnie (Kat’s character) were often given badly explained storylines.  What’s the theory?
Erica:  That they had two possible ways to go with the Polis story because the writers room started before they knew how many episodes they’d have ADC (Alycia Debnam Carey) for. The option if they could only have ADC for a couple episodes would have probably been the Lincoln and Luna connection and a bigger story there earlier on. O (Octavia) being upset, etc. But when they found out they had ADC for 7 episodes…well, they decided to go all out on the Clexa line and cut Ricky and the Lincoln/Luna thing almost entirely.
Abby:  That’s almost what Ricky said. He implied it was Jason, but it was most likely Jason cutting stuff to get the Lexa stuff in. There were so many hints of a greater storyline for Lincoln and for Ricky that it’s a shame Jason had to treat him so badly.
Erica:  The problem is, there always has to be a trade-off. Especially with such a big ensemble cast.
Abby:  Yep.
Erica:  And when such a big story counts on a guest star who only has so many episodes during a certain period of time to work with you…well…the other actors and characters are the ones that suffer, unfortunately.
Abby:  Which sucks, but the way Ricky tells it does pin it on Jason and Ricky says he tried to talk him because Ricky had put his heart and soul into this show.  But you know what’s worse than having your storylines cut? Filming stuff and having it cut out of episodes – that’s what happened to Arden.
Erica:  We know that’s happened to several of the actors on The 100, too.  There was supposed to be a Monty/Monroe scene. And who knows what else.  But yeah, putting in the effort and then having it cut? Really shitty.
Nnena:  The Arden stuff is really messed up. In the s5 finale, Lydia says that Kira has to be back for graduation which suggests that Arden Cho would return. It seems like this was a last minute decision, I don’t know.
Erica:  Weird. That makes no sense at all.