THE FANDOM THAT CRIED WOLF...AND IS NOW TOTALLY PAYING FOR IT

I had an epiphany. A Sleepy Hollow epiphany. An epiphany about why the writers are so seemingly tone-deaf about the now near total (at the very least a significant majority) hatred of Katrina Crane (one of the main characters) from the fandom and a ton of critics.

See, fandom has kind of given itself a bad reputation, often deservedly, for hating on female characters for generally totally shady reasons that come down to double standards and sexism/misogyny. If a fandom hates a female character, you are often justified in being a wee bit suspicious as to why. So like the boy that cried wolf, when a legitimately bad female character comes along and fandom (justifiably) complains, The Powers That Be are maybe, probably, dismissing those cries as business as usual in the fandom life. In terms of Katrina, I imagine the writers are assuming fandom (and every reviewer of the show I’ve seen in a paper or online publication?) hates Katrina because we think she is in the way of the popular Ichabbie ship (Ichabbie = Ichabod Crane/Abbie Mills). Standing in the way of True Love for a popular ship IS honestly one of the most common reasons for hating a female character. And I admit that IS kinda true, at least for me, in terms of her being in the way, but the writers are *still* wrong. Now, why are they wrong? They’re wrong because a character can be a roadblock for a ship, but not be hated. Fandom *lives* for romantic drama. Tears, angst, longing looks and dramatic speeches are the life blood of a large swath of fandom. And guess what? It’s even more wrenching if the people involved in the triangle (yep, it’s almost always a triangle) are likeable-if you have an emotional investment in all parties involved. So even if you believe in your heart of hearts that A + B belong together, you are still sad for C and want good things for them. Because you like them as a character, outside of the pairing you don’t want to see them be part of.

That’s the problem here. Abbie and Ichabod as characters AND as a ship had me at hello and I knew that I wanted them as endgame. I assumed that the writers were intending them as endgame based on the chemistry between the actors and their interactions. Yes, Ichabod being married to Katrina makes her the roadblock to that ship. Obviously. But no one expected the ship to happen overnight. I mean, they ARE married. And the apocalypse was (Is? Plot problems are being saved for another post) kind of pending. Fandom can be patient. We will totally do the will they-won’t they game for 10 seasons and fiendishly enjoy all the little hints and moments along the way. No one was hating Katrina out the gate just for existing and being inconveniently (for us) married to Ichabod. At least not most fans. People hate her because she’s a terribly written character.

Nothing about Katrina has made sense since season 1. The decisions she makes often jeopardize not only the lives of other characters but also the FATE OF THE ENTIRE WORLD. The audience is told that she has skills and abilities that we never see but are expected to still believe.  She has lied to Ichabod about HUGE things and has engaged in very shady behavior that normally indicates someone is heading to the dark side (if they aren’t already there).  She is often in danger and in need of saving (she isn’t called Princess Peach by the fandom for nothing), along with being a pawn for the three men in her life (husband, son, jilted ex). Her whole existence is like the anti-Bechdel test. It’s offensive. Most fans don’t hate her, we PITY her.  And especially the actress, Katia Winter, who plays her.

Sleepyheads have been very vocal on social media about all this. Some very visible tags have gotten a lot of traction on Twitter. Like #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter and #ShadyHollow. Recently, Fox announced that the “creative changes” were being made (http://insidetv.ew.com/2015/01/17/fix-sleepy-hollow/). The odd thing about this is how this is obviously double-speak and a reaction to all the negative feedback and press without coming right out and saying it. The writers continue to speak on Twitter as if everyone loves Katrina and nothing is wrong. BUT within the show the characters themselves are done with Katrina. If nothing is wrong with your character and you truly believe everyone loves her, then why have other characters express their distrust, dislike and exasperation with her? For example, in last night’s brand new episode (episode 13), Jenny suggests to Abbie that Katrina’s help can be enlisted for help with a situation.  Abbie face-palms and groans, with Jenny then saying “look, she isn’t my favorite person either, but…” Katrina and Ichabod are going on a date as the episode opens in an attempt to save their marriage and try to reconnect, but Ichabod clearly isn’t really looking forward to it. Abbie tells him that he doesn’t have to go (and he appears to consider it for a moment).  When Katrina comes into the room (yes, they are having this conversation while she’s a few feet away!), Abbie tells them to have fun in the least enthusiastic way ever and won’t even look at her.  Like…Um. If the characters on the show don’t like Katrina, why are WE supposed to like her? What are we supposed to think about this huge contradiction of what TPTB say versus what they do/write? I suspect (hope? Pray???) that there is a wider plan at work and all this is deliberate and not the result of bad storytelling. But by the time that possible plan comes to fruition, there may be very few people left around to see it. And if they are, they probably won’t care.

Niala Terrell-Mason's picture
on January 21, 2015

Hey, I'm Niala! I'm black, bisexual, super liberal, a Unitarian Universalist (I'll wait while you Google that), and a long time fangirl. I love fan conventions, Marvel, Star Trek, fan fiction, Tumblr, Harry Potter, most of the shows that Fox cancels and books. I work in a public library and I am a grad student pursuing a masters of divinity in interfaith chaplaincy (aka someone who does religion for a living). I hope you think I'm funny.