You Talk Too Much, Mother: Skip Hemlock Grove
by Madeline Iva
“You talk too much, Mother.” This is the big culminating moment of the first season for Hemlock grove. Roman kills his mother by ripping out her tongue. Oh, you want a spoiler alert? Here’s my spoiler alert: Hemlock Grove is misogynistic as f*ck.
Skip Hemlock Grove–here’s a few good reasons why:
1) TELLING WOMEN THEY TALK TOO MUCH
Man, that culminating moment did not sit well with me. Don’t get me wrong: Roman’s mother is evil. But she’s 3-D evil, and has a lot of interesting stuff going on with her. But you see, Roman is evil too. We’re ultimately rooting more for him, because we’ve seen more of his humanity, but we’ve seen a bit of her humanity as well. Given the fact that they practically cancel each other out, can we really triumph in someone telling his mother to shut up, then killing her? Hmmmmmm.
It’s just the whole way it was done–like we were supposed to rejoice that she’s being ‘put in her place’. No. Having pretty much gulped the first season in three swallows, I was left to assess the damage of my cough ridden days spent binging on the sofa.
2) I sat through, like, FOUR WOMEN BEING CHEWED UP BY A WEREWOLF–VAGINA FIRST.
3) I sat through Roman RAPING A GIRL AND THEN TELLING HER TO FORGET IT HAPPENED. (He has that power.)
4) THE DEAD GIRL BODY COUNT: 12 named female characters on the show. Seven high school girls and five women.
SO! Who’s left at the end to be in season two? It’s a blood bath people. By the end one is left in town. (The one who was raped.) One has left town. Ten are dead. (We think.)
There are 11 named male characters on the show. All of the authority figures are male. Who’s left at the end? Well, one moves away by the end of Season one. One has his face scratched–but it will heal. And one is dead. The homeless guy.(Suicide.)
Ten women dead by the end of season one and one homeless guy.
5) VIRGIN/WHORE TROPES — WITHOUT IRONY. Slut shaming is so 1980’s, people.
The show has a good mother and an evil mother. The good mother gets far less on-air time, and doesn’t actually DO anything. You have a somewhat clueless virgin and a lot of ‘popular girl’ werewolf bait. The sluttiness is played down a bit, and not really judged—but we know how this goes. The cheerleader, the slut, the mean girls. They all wind up screaming and then the blood splatters…it’s just so old. SO OLD.
I wrestle with the fact that I love gothic-suspense-y twisted and perverted stuff. And this is suspense. This is twisted and perverted stuff. But wait. Usually the point of all this gothic mayhem is that we see it from the point of view of a young female character. What’s revealed to her is the unfair twisted horrors that she never suspected lay beneath the place that at first did not appear all that bad.
But wait! This is exactly the experience I had with this show! Yet I don’t *think* that’s the experience the show creators wanted to convey. The world is a sinister, creepy place where ten women die (and two get raped) for every one male death. Gah! I already knew this, but thought we’d seriously left this crap behind us.
6) WE WANT NEW SKOOL GOTH NOT OLD SKOOL MISOGYNY: There’s so many other twisted, perverted, and gothic stuff that can involve getting out of the old school male trenches. Gay people doing twisty stuff. Men getting raped instead of women. (but not the gay men, please.) Monsters (the physical kind) having love affairs. Gorgeous a-sexuals. Disabled heroes. Jewish heroines. (The place is near Pittsburgh, for god’s sake.)
On this show women are 99% grotesque, evil, or werewolf bait/victims while the very few who aren’t spend most of their time on the sidelines, are passive, unless, you know, they’re being supportive–of the men. What is this? 1955?
There’s one fairly important character on the show who is a person of color. And that’s it. She winds up flayed, and suffocated. So she’s dead. (We think.) One person who is disabled. Shot twice with a shotgun–dead. (We think.) Nobody included in the show at all who is over the age of 50–except–wait for it–a Hispanic maid.
7) WOMEN ARE THE ‘OTHER’ REALLY? REALLY?? I’m scratching my head thinking “Who wrote this?” Young Hollywood guys or old school white writer guys? Or some mix of both? Bleh. Because by the end I’m convinced that these writers/producers/directors don’t find women very interesting or multi-dimensional. Okay, so maybe all these women aren’t *really* dead. Like dead for good. But the way women are treated in general–I don’t even want to know what they have to go through in season two.
I give the old guys a pass assuming they grew up in the Mad Men era or took the 80’s to heart and haven’t evolved with the times. They’re dinosaurs. So be it. However, I have a hard time not making all sorts of disturbing assumptions about younger men writing this stuff. Like maybe they’re bro-culture rape-y types. I could see them saying “Hey! We included lots of women in the show.” Yeah, like you deserve a medal. That’s not the point. How can you be in your twenties, thirties, or forties in America and not have a clue about women? How can you still see women – who are all around you, no matter where you are – as the “other”. Still????? Something must be wrong with you.
So as hot as poor Roman is – that’s it for Hemlock Grove for me. The show moves on–and one hopes, learns from its earlier mistakes. But I’m not alone–obviously. For more excellent Hemlock Grove hating check out Yo Heart Frijole’s astute blog post.
And follow us at Lady Smut. Where we’re upbeat and positive–unless you’re being a total asshat and get us really angry.
Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance. Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes. Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.