Lurking Under the Surface of Sleepy Hollow: Diversity Casting versus Use of Stereotypes
Having recently failed out of Scandal because of the rapidly degenerating storyline and my actual inability to deal with the anger Fitz inspires in me, I thought to fill the void in my regular schedule by picking up Sleepy Hollow. Based on my twitter feed over the last couple of months, I knew that there was apparently a lot of chemistry between the two leads (good), that Orlando Jones has a twitter account (apparently excellent? I don’t know, he’s sure retweeted a lot), and that it was going to be horror-drama-comedy. Everyone seemed to be talking about it, and I figured, given the fandom explosion, that it might be worth watching.
Now, given the fact that my experience of watching Supernatural was a train wreck of misogyny, racism and American superiority, I spent a couple of hours checking in with people to see whether Sleepy Hollow was going to repeat history. Supernatural being largely responsible for a majority of my rage headaches, I was eager to void anything that might smack of the same mix of shitty writing and terrible politics.
But no, people largely assured me that while Sleepy Hollow played INCREDIBLY fast and loose with facts and history, and was steeped in so much Christian doctrine as to eschew pretty much all else - oddly despite showcasing an inability to check basics (it’s the Book of Revelation, not Revelations) - it wasn’t the worst thing on TV. (I do wish they’d introduce at least ONE long term character that isn’t Christian; it would be such a glorious change to actually have the presumptive doctrine of America = only Christianity challenged on screen. But I digress.) As a giant plus, I was told that the show was amazing for race given its diversity casting. Not just token side-characters here or there, but an actual diverse cast in which the majority were non-white! And they weren’t just written to be throw-away characters either!
And somehow, in all the praise for its diversity casting, I failed to ask the primary question that I should have, which is whether or not the show’s portrayal of ethnicity and culture is actually worthwhile.
Spoiler: it really isn’t.