Day Twenty-Two: Favourite female character you love but everyone else hates
Katrina Crane (Sleepy Hollow
I've been waiting for this day to come around almost since I started this meme. I have so many feelings about Katrina, and have always been utterly infuriated at how she is received by Sleepy Hollow
It's sort of understandable, since she's very inconsistently written, and in the first season in particular she wasn't given all that much to do, but the amount of vitriol leveled at her is still, to my mind, disproportionate and unjustified. Unfortunately, I fear poor Katrina has found herself on the wrong corner of a fandom love triangle. In other words, she's the victim of shipping preferences.
One of the elements of fannish culture that I find most frustrating is the way it always seems to sell female characters short. If they're not being ignored altogether, there seems to be an oddly Highlander
-esque attitude to female characters. In other words, there can be only one. Only one 'well-written, strong female character', only one object of the male lead's affections and so on. This is both inconsistent and extremely transparent. Female characters who aren't interested in the male leads or likely to be shipped with them (siblings, lesbians, older women) never come in for this treatment.
Katrina has the misfortune to be married to the male lead of Sleepy Hollow
, but the majority of the fandom would prefer to see him with Abbie Mills, the brilliant young policewoman who is, like him, a Witness to the end times. As a result, fandom's hatred of her is intense. If they're not complaining about her uselessness they're loudly wishing for her to turn evil. (The transparent motives for fandom's hatred are immediately obvious given that Abbie's sister Jenny, who has no interest in Ichabod, is never discussed in such terms.)
I resent this fannish tendency to make everything a zero sum game. I resent the implication that if one woman is strong and beautiful and clever all others must by extension be weak, useless and ugly. I want no part of a feminism that needs to tear one woman down in order to build another up. There is room enough in Sleepy Hollow
, in all fandoms, in life itself, for more than one woman to be amazing. There is love enough for Abbie Mills and for Katrina Crane.
ETA: It has been pointed out to me (with a great deal of aggression, and somewhat proving my point) that I spend this whole post whining about the fandom and don't really talk about why
I like Katrina. I will concede that I probably should have done that.
So. I like Katrina because she's an example of a particular character and plot trope that I really enjoy. Namely, a woman working on the side of good, undercover in the bad guys' camp, feeding information back to the good guys. But it goes further than that. What I like in particular is how this kind of female character plays on the arrogance and delusions of the bad guys and highlights the depths of their self-deception. If they stopped to think for a single second they would realise that these women have no possible reason to love or respect them, and are disgusted and appalled at having to hang around with them. But they're so deluded and overwhelmed by their own power that they can't see this. (Other characters of this type: Marion in the BBC Robin Hood
series, Noriko and Marala in Romanitas
, Sansa Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire
/A Game of Thrones
, Nina in The Americans
. Sally Lockhart has a moment like this at the end of The Shadow in the North
. I'm hoping Kore in Spartacus
is this type of character, but I suspect not. As you can see, they don't always a have particularly happy time of it.)
Often these types of characters — Katrina included — have very little choice about the situations in which they find themselves. I really enjoy watching the way she finds little pieces of power, small spaces that she can carve out and exist in, in defiance of the forces arrayed against her. Sometimes indirectness, circumlocution and a kind of slantwise assertion of control can be a powerful complement to direct confrontation, and I like that Sleepy Hollow
has characters who embody both types of defiance.
But I must admit that the real draw of characters like Katrina is the moment in which they throw off the mask, choose their battle and declare themselves to the villains. 'How could you possibly think I could love you?'/'For what other reason do you think I was hanging around?'/'I have always been working against you!' and so on. It's a moment of cathartic justice, although unfortunately in most stories it never ends well for the woman revealing her loyalties.
Katrina is a particularly unsubtle example of this character type — after all, Sleepy Hollow
is not exactly subtle itself — and her ruse is so clumsy that her captors look particularly stupid. I do think the writers made an error when they had Katrina escape and join Abbie and Ichabod — why spend an entire episode grappling with how the three of them work out how to work as a team, only to send Katrina away again once they'd solved this problem? — and the less said of the mystical pregnancy trope the better. Ultimately I think Sleepy Hollow
would work better as an ensemble show with Abbie and Ichabod as clear leads and Jenny, Irving and Katrina as their sidekicks (i.e. more along the lines of Buffy
than The X Files
). But if we can't have that, I would like Katrina to continue to run rings around her captors (well, at least around Headless; Henry seems to know her game), and to save up her wrath for that one moment when direct confrontation becomes unavoidable. ( The other days )