AMC’s “The Walking Dead”, patriarchal pop culture, and sneaky misogyny
“The producers and writers of The Walking Dead are fully aware that the morning-after pill would not induce an abortion or miscarriage. We exercised our artistic creative license to explore a storyline with one of our characters, not to make any pro-life or pro-choice political statement. We sincerely hope that people are not turning to the fictional world of The Walking Dead for accurate medical information.”
Glen Mazzara, The Walking Dead’s executive producer, says the above in response to our inquiry regarding the ongoing fury around the writers’ decision to have a character take “morning after pills” many weeks into a pregnancy with hopes of ending it. The morning-after pill, as you most likely know, doesn’t quite work like that.
Kate Aurthur, our West Coast Editor, explains: “Mazzara’s statement could be dissatisfying for those among us who think that anything in culture, whether it’s fictional or not, is political, and for others among us who know that lots of people do extrapolate medical information from scripted television. What is certain is that abortion—which is still legal—continues, perhaps more than any other, to be a fraught issue in popular culture.”
Honestly? The misinformation about the morning after pill bugged me a lot less than the way the other characters treated Lori (the pregnant lady). Mixing up the morning after pill and the abortion pill is a believable thing to write into a story because a lot of people do mix those things up.
What bothered me more about this episode was how Glenn, Dale, and Rick kept acting as if Lori’s pregnancy was everyone’s business but her own. Having a single man lecture a married woman about how to conduct her family life is fucked up. Having another man suggest to her that she’s making a mistake is fucked up. Having a woman weeping and begging her husband forgiveness for attempting quietly to end an incredibly risky pregnancy is beyond fucked up.
Plus, plus! The show sets up Lori’s pregnancy as if it were a viable option during the zombie apocalypse. Think about it: Lori will be in a physical condition that slows her down, requires special medical attention, and is life-threatening under normal circumstances. They’re barely capable of defending themselves, have no guaranteed access to food and shelter, let alone a doctor, but THREE male characters feel comfortable counseling Lori to have a fucking baby? Even if it might endanger her? Even if it might endanger the rest of them? Even after it’s born, a baby would slow Lori down during zombie attacks and pose a danger to group members because babies are fucking noisy and will draw zombie attention. At least in the comic books, the pregnancy storyline makes sense given their situation. Pressuring Lori to stay pregnant in the TV series doesn’t make a lick of sense.
I can believe that the writers, etc. are not consciously pushing a pro-choice agenda, but they handled this storyline very badly and in a way that reinforces their general treatment of female characters. They did everything they could to make Lori seem weak-willed, ignorant, selfish, and a bad wife and mother. Meanwhile, the male characters paid lip service to the idea that Lori had a choice, while self-righteously guilt-tripping her to hell about one of those choices.
The Walking Dead’s stance on reproductive choice:
- Want to secretly to end a pregnancy that would pose all kinds of terrible problems for you and those you love? YOU SNEAKY SLUT!
- Hide your terribly inconvenient pregnancy from your husband because you don’t want to burden him? LYING BITCH!
- Ask a friend to help you terminate that unwanted pregnancy? YOU SELFISH WHORE!
I am this close to being done with the show. It does such a shitty job of writing for non-white, non-male characters. I almost would rather The Walking Dead be entirely white and male than for it to have such terrible, retrograde storylines for its minority characters.
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