Hosted By Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joe Lamour
Danai Gurira as Michonne on “The Walking Dead.” All photos via AMC.
A few weeks ago, I was wasting time on Facebook (as we do) and I scrolled to a post from the official page for The Walking Dead heralding the arrival of one of the most beloved characters on the series, Michonne.
As we all know, it’s really unusual for any television show to celebrate the arrival of a character of color. But, for Michonne–who she is, how she kills zombies (with her trusty razor-sharp katana), how she acts, and who she keeps in her company at all times (a topic we will be discussing in detail this season), is beloved so much by the fans of the book that the powers-that-be have actually been leading with her.
So for this new Walking Dead Roundtable, I gathered a group of Racialicious readers and close buddies: Jeannie Chan, Carly Neely, Kenneth Hwynn, and Elizabeth Smith to discuss the upcoming season with me. And boy, is there a lot to discuss already.
Warning: Episode spoilers and icky zombie pictures under the cut.
By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual
It’s an old and uninteresting complaint: black characters on TV–and horror movies–get killed or written off too early. Clearly, that is what’s been happening on The Walking Dead with T-Dog. (UPDATE: The arrival of a new character signals a possible shift in season three.).
I’m going to try to push the debate further, past “isn’t it a shame characters of color get short shrift.” The truth is the T-Dog Problem signals broader problems with The Walking Dead and some other prominent dramas. It’s a symptom of an ailment the writers might actually care to remedy, beyond appeasing black viewers.
First, the basics. Earlier this season T-Dog told Dale he was concerned about being black and a weak link in the group. This was an insightful moment from the writers, foregrounding the idea that being different after the apocalypse might be a problem–after all, in times of stress, people stick to their own–and an interesting meta-commentary on the fragility of being a black character on TV. T-Dog was a great candidate for a quick kill. Then T-Dog disappeared. I literally forgot all about him until last week, when he had one line that was almost comically interrupted. This week T-Dog was similarly marginalized, leading Vulture‘s recapper to state: “By this point, the casual dismissal of one of two minority characters…on this show is feeling extremely suspect. The only thing saving it from being full-on offensive is that the same treatment is being given to Hershel’s entire white family.”
The problem isn’t only about a tired debate over representation.