The Walking Dead, S5 Ep6 — Consumed

This is normally where I start talking about the week’s Walking Dead episode. Not this week. This week, I’m starting with Yvette Nicole Brown.

Brown, best known for her role as Shirley on Community, was a guest on The Talking Dead this week. She’s been on before. Some guests come on with a few jokes ready. Brown comes on with notes and theories the show doesn’t have time to explore. She’s not faking it. She’s a serious fan of the show.

This is not to say that every theory or opinion she has about the show is automatically right, but she is a serious fan. Maybe too serious (which is absurd — it’s a show about discussing The Walking Dead). People laughed at her for counting the number of times fire appeared in the episode in her notes, and she really didn’t get to expand on her theory about how Carol burned things in the flashback and Daryl burned things in the “present.” The show has time limits, I get it. But that her attention to detail and theorizing is seen by some as going overboard rubs me the wrong way. Still, Brown does have a legion of Talking Dead fans. They well outnumber the haters. It looked like the main thing we’d remember from that night was that Yvette Nicole Brown had proven herself to be the Talking Dead Master.

Then it all went to hell.

Hardwick brought up shipping. Brown didn’t bring up shipping. She had talked about Carol and Daryl, yes. It was a Carol episode, and she was with Daryl virtually every minute of it. Does she ship them? Maybe, but not in that hostile, all-consuming Twitter/Tumblr way.

 

The Walking Dead - Yvette Nicole Brown TweetThe conversation turned to Beth and Chris says to Tyler James Williams (Noah), “what’s up with Noah and Beth!” Williams doesn’t say anything (obviously he can’t give anything away either way). Brown says “ship it!” In a sing-song voice.

She might as well have painted a bulls-eye on herself.  You can say the fallout that would follow was all about respect for Emily Kinney. You’d be kidding yourself. I know what the fandom has been saying about “Boah” (Beth and Noah). A lot of “Bethyl” (Beth and Daryl) shippers see the suggestion of Boah as an assault on Beth. And they believe that there is no possible reason for anyone to ship Boah but extreme “Caryl” (Carol and Daryl) stanning, that is the ONLY reason someone would want to see them together.

If it hadn’t occurred to you that this attitude is really, really, racist (Noah, in case you missed it, is black), you need to take a breath and step back for a while. Also, you should maybe find a more productive outlet for your outrage.

A little later in the show, Beth came up again. They were talking about why so many people ship Beth. She said that Beth looks like a Disney Princess — in other words, she is easy to ship because she looks like what we’re used to seeing from childhood as the romantic interest/lead. This is neither untrue nor cruel, but Bethyl shippers jumped on her on social media for being disrespectful of Emily and for saying that Beth has no value other than her looks, which she never said — she was contributing to a shipping topic she didn’t start.

BURN HER

BURN HER

And of course, you can’t remove Yvette’s race from the context of her comment, either. While the comment wasn’t bitter, the fact is, the fandom for her own show is obsessed with shipping two white girls in every possible way, while virtually no one ships her character with anyone (I did the math: about 0.7% of Community fanfics on AO3 include Shirley in a pairing). She has no right to imply that Beth’s appearance has something to do with her popularity ship-wise — Really? 

She also said that Noah was more age appropriate than Daryl, which also spurred outrage, with people basically acting like she said that age gap marriages should be outlawed.

Brown said on Twitter that she was done with the TWD fandom. And who can blame her? If that means she will no longer accept invitations to the show, it will be a loss for The Talking Dead and a loss for The Walking Dead fandom. All over the bad behavior of some particularly hostile fans, not because she actually said anything wrong.

Apologies to Carol, whose episode was derailed. Conveniently.

Apologies to Carol, whose episode was derailed. Conveniently.

As for the episode itself, it’s a great Carol episode, exploring all the things that brought her to the moment when she is wheeled into the hospital, from her past spousal abuse to her murder of Karen and David to her single-handed attack on Terminus. Daryl is also explored, as he starts to come to terms with his own past abuse. They wind up in a temporary shelter for victims of domestic abuse — a place Carol had once fled to with Sophia. Daryl respectfully burns an undead woman and child who were locked in one of the rooms, in an especially impactful scene. They eventually run into Noah, who has just escaped the hospital and robs them off their weapons before they learn that he knew Beth. It’s not especially romantic (though maybe that’s just me being so over TWD shipping), but there is a lot of insight here. It’s by far better than last week’s mess.