Spoilers for The Walking Dead up to mid-season 3. And lots of misogyny.
As you may have heard, I have recently started enthusiastically binge-watching The Walking Dead. Somehow, I had managed to avoid almost all spoilers for the first 4 seasons, except for one: I knew that Lori, the wife of the main protagonist and so far the central female character, was killed off sometime in the 3rd season. I knew this only because the entire internet (ok, my Facebook feed) seemed to erupt with glee when she died.
I had tried reading the comics a few years back and had to stop because (among other ridiculous failings) they were rampantly and consistently sexist. When I started watching the show, I assumed that Lori would be dislikable for the same reasons she was in the comics: poor writing and bad character development which constantly framed her as hysterical, irrational, overly emotional, and helpless.
But then she just… wasn't any of those things. I didn't love Lori as a character, and found it frustrating that the writers seemed to put more time into trying to get the audience to sympathize with abusive, violent assholes like Shane. But Lori was (given the apocalyptic circumstances) fairly consistently even-headed, emotionally stable, and un-objectionable. Hell, her last act is one of self-sacrifice, as she calmly chooses a painful violent death in order to save the life of her child.
So what the hell was people's problem with Lori? I'm hesitant to poke around on forums too much, because I'm only halfway through the third season and I don't want to see any spoilers. But the criticisms I see can be summed up by these lovely memes:
Which, let's be real, translate to "misogyny, misogyny, misogyny". I mean, I think the show is sexist, but even the show makes it pretty clear that Lori is a faithful wife. She has a relationship with Shane because she thinks her husband is dead, the world is ending, and she's desperate and lonely and afraid. I think you'd be hard pressed to find people who wouldn't do similarly, and I'm frankly surprised that anyone would be that critical of the choice. As soon as Rick returns, she draws clear boundaries with Shane and is unflinchingly (occasionally annoyingly) honest and loyal to Rick. So what gives?
For those of you who watched the show as it came out: do you have a sense of why Lori attracted such vitriol? Is it just one of those herd-mentality situations, where some people were predisposed to hate Lori because they'd read the comics, and then it just became the 'thing' to do? I'm sure if you're primed to be hypercritical and start scrutinizing every characters' actions, it would be easy to latch onto mistakes. Is it because when women make bad decisions based on emotion it's unforgivably stupid, and when men make bad decisions based on emotion (like, say, getting into a knock-down drag out fight in the middle of a parking lot that you haven't cleared of zombies), it's justifiable (and probably the woman's fault anyway)? Or is it just because general viewers really hate any character that's not a (male) testosterone-fuelled hardass?
ETA: I should probably clarify that I'm not surprised by people disliking Lori. But I am surprised by the amount of intense vitriol that seems to be directed specifically at her and not at the many other poorly written, unlikeable characters.