Sleepy Hollow Fans: Surrender Your Feminist Cards, If You’re #TeamKatrina


Lakers vs. Celtics, Cowboys vs. Giants  – take the most intense sports rivalry you can think of and triple it.  Now you have a sense of the virtual battles raging among avid fans of Fox’s instant surprise hit series, Sleepy Hollow, many of whom are continuously fighting among themselves on Twitter and Tumblr as they count down the days until Sleepy Hollow‘s Season 2 premiere on September 22, 2014. (You can get caught up on Season 1 on Hulu plus).

Part of the show’s success is due to the undeniable, ever-present chemistry between Sleepy Hollow‘s two lead characters — Ichabod Crane and Detective Abbie Mills, played by Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. At least, that’s what Sleepy Hollow fans who ship Ichabod and Abbie think.A vocal minority of Sleepy Hollow fans are just as adamant that Ichabod and his purgatory-trapped wife Katrina are the show’s OTP.

Never used ship as a verb or heard the term OTP?  Ah, then you’re a newbie to the world of avid TV fans.  Let TV JURISTE be your guide. Fans ship two characters when they want those characters to form a romantic relationship.  An OTP is shorthand for “one true pair.

If this fandom lingo had been used when Sex and the City first aired, there would have been fans who shipped Carrie with Aiden. While others would have been just as adamant that Carrie and Mr. Big were the OTP. Another important bit of fan lingo to understand is that when fans ship a couple, they combine their names, e.g., Brangelina.  Terms indicated by bold, orange font are defined in the Dictionary of Fandom Terminology.

Femi-Fans Don’t Ship Ichatrina.  Period.  Full Stop.  It’s Not Even Open for Debate. Seriously.

Any femi-fan who actively ships Ichatrina (i.e., Ichabod + Katrina) is a hypocrite.

Harsh statement, right?  But, it’s true.  Let’s take a closer look at the Katrina Crane character, and why true femi-fans (i.e., feminists fans who are way too grown and sexy to be called fangirls) cannot embrace Katrina Crane as a heroine worthy of the leading man, shall we?

SPOILER ALERT

Do not read any further if you have not watched Sleepy Hollow’s Season One Finale

First, let’s clear up one thing about the Cranes’ marital status.

Arguably, Ichabod Was a Widower Until The Last Few Minutes of The Season Finale

Ichatrina shippers who claim they are upholding the sanctity of marriage seem to forget that Ichabod visits Katrina’s grave in the Sineater episode.Katrina_Tumbstone

Later in the Golem episode, Katrina’s coven explains that they trapped Katrina in purgatory as a punishment for using witchcraft to save Ichabod’s life.

Wikipedia (a perfectly legitimate source to use for this type of supremely frivolous discussion) tells me that purgatory  is an intermediate state after physical death.  It’s not an intermediate state between life and death.

Thus, unlike Ichabod (who was kept alive by Katrina’s spell) and Jeremy Crane (whose heart was stopped by witchcraft), Katrina Crane was dead in all but the last few minutes of the Season One finale.

Idealized Red-Haired Girls Are For Charlie Brown, Not Ichabod Crane

When we meet Katrina in the pilot episode, she’s in purgatory.  To be honest, purgatory doesn’t seem half bad. Katrina looks great!  When she greets Ichabod, she’s decked out in a formal gown with a plunging neckline and her striking red hair gently blows in the wind.

(*record scratch sound effect*).

A wind machine in purgatory?  Really?! We all know Beyonce is the only one who should be allowed such ready access to a wind machine in purgatory. She’s earned it by being Beyonce.  It’s also part of  her punishment.  Again, for being Beyonce.

Screen shot of concert audience member video.

Screen shot of concert audience member video.

Femi-fans Should Be Over the Damsel in Distress Trope, Si o No?

As Season 2 opens, Katrina Crane is back in the world of the living, but she didn’t last long before being kidnapped by the Headless Horseman.

Reason numero uno why femi-fans cannot possibly support the Katrina Crane character is that she falls into the most overdone, anti-feminist trope of all – Katrina is the quintessential damsel in distress.  Katrina is a witch, yet she just can’t seem to get her stuff together.

Throughout the season, with repeated, urgent whispers Katrina urges Ichabod to save her from purgatory. Okay, yes, I suppose it’s always a good idea to make your man feel like he’s your personal hero.  But, Katrina is the one with the magical powers. What’s she been doing for the last 200 years other than dying her hair? Shouldn’t she have been working on a way to save herself, Ichabod, and to reunite them with their son either on earth or in another realm? Maybe this isn’t a fair criticism. Katrina did not have the benefit of all those cheesy Lifetime movies-of-the-week in the 80’s where Sally Field and Meredith Baxter-Birney fought to save their families.

Once Katrina is finally rescued from purgatory, she downshifts almost immediately back into damsel-in-distress mode. When the baby Katrina abandoned, resurfaces, all grown up and thoroughly pissed off, instead of taking the heat, Miss. Katrina manages to get whisked away by the Headless Horseman. So, once again, Katrina, the only main character with magical powers, will need to be saved by the mere mortals.  This is some completely upside down damsel-in-distress mess!

Femi-Fans Don’t Usually Consider Depictions of Female Incompetence Charming.  Or, Did I Miss the Meeting When We Said We’re Totally Cool With It?

Femi-fans were up in arms when Newsroom portrayed a female executive producer as being incapable of figuring out email and another perpetually-confused looking female producer was depicted mixing up the state of Georgia and the country Georgia.

Therefore, one would expect femi-fans to express similar frustrations about the Katrina Crane character. Katrina Crane is the most incompetent witch since Aunt Clara and Esmerelda from Bewitched.  Consider Exhibits A, B, and C:

Exhibit A — Given that Katrina seems to have the ability to keep tabs on events outside of purgatory, why didn’t she know anything about the whereabouts of her son?  Did she really think giving him that ugly doll was all he needed to protect him for eternity?

Screen shot

Screen shot

Exhibit B — Speaking of her abandoned son, when Ichabod confronts “The Four Who Speak As One” (Katrina’s coven/Pennsatucky’s cousins), they explain that originally they wanted to confine Jeremy Crane to purgatory, like Katrina, but his powers were too strong.

Can we pause here for a minute? Really, Sleepy Hollow writers? Why would a full-grown witch’s powers be weaker than those of her half-witch, half-muggle teenaged son? In the writers’ defense, I suppose Katrina’s powers were strong enough to save Ichabod.  But, even with her Ichie love spell, in true Aunt Clara fashion, the whole thing becomes jacked up simply because Ichabod’s bloodline ends up linked to the Headless Horseman’s and through some metaphysical mumbo jumbo I have not quite figured out yet, all of this is somehow triggering the “end of days.”

Exhibit C — When Abbie sacrifices herself in hopes that Katrina’s witchcraft will save the world, Katrina emerges from purgatory and chokes. Her magic barely moves a twig. She couldn’t figure out that it was her own son standing before her (so much for motherly and witchly intuition). And, when Baby Boy Crane has the temper tantrum which ends Season One, Katrina’s powers were no match for her son’s.

Femi-Fans, No Ship Is Better Than a Bad Ship.

I’m not saying you have to ship Ichabbie to keep your femi-fan street cred.  Not saying that at all. Sleepy Hollow, like the show it most resembles, The X-Files, is very entertaining even without any of the will-they-or-won’t-they tension.

If you choose not to ‘ship anyone you’re in good company. Apparently, Nicole Beharie isn’t even on Team Ichabbie. Beharie says she’s happy to play a female lead character who is not defined by her feelings for, or relationship with, a man.  Go on with your bad self, Nicole!

I’ve had my say.  Think I’m wrong?  If you’re a femi-fan and you’re on #TeamIchatrina, let’s hear the reasons.


  • TV Juriste

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  • tvjuriste

    UPDATE — Some fans vehemently disagree with my assertion that Katrina was dead during most of the first season. They say she was banished to purgatory but was not technically dead. Ok. They are definitely correct that the show’s writers did include a line saying that Katrina’s body was not at her gravesite. We later learned that Headless’s head was stored in her grave.

  • K.

    *spoilers* Avid Ichatrina shipper here. You make good points and it’s true I’m not able to discount all of them. But one that I’ve seen on the interwebs and here is mention of Katrina’s powers. I’ve seen more of a complaint about it in season 2. We can assume since she didn’t/couldn’t use her powers in purgatory that they’ve been weakened (They’re like a muscle, don’t use it and it weakens), which explains where she is at the season finale. Everyone has been complaining about her lack of powers this season as well. I think people are forgetting that while there were months out here in the real world between the first and second season there were only minutes in the Sleepy Hollow world. Katrina’s powers are not going to come back in minutes, hours or, even some days. So when she is trapped in Headless’ house she is indeed trapped with barely any powers to do anything about it. And then Henry puts a hex on the house so she CAN’T use her powers. And now we see this spider predicament.