Back when Sleepy Hollow first started, it was basically everything I wanted in an TV show. This was a few months after I’d officially given up on Supernatural as a show so not only did I need a new Urban Fantasy series, I needed one that wasn’t so white from the get go.
And Sleepy Hollow delivered.
The series opened with Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison as a super awesome team of EQUALS with a fair amount of “Will They, Won’t They” romantic sizzle. And yeah, in Jenny, Abbie had a truly bad ass sister and she did get to banter with Orlando Jones’ Frank Irving. It also also had a pretty diverse cast of characters to start (although I’m still mad about John Cho’s character).
But I mean, pretty early on The Powers That Be kept going above and beyond to keep Abbie and Ichabod’s relationship strictly platonic despite the fact that the fans were literally begging for it at points. (And I have written about why it’s so important for folks to see Black women – especially dark-skinned ones- as beloved on-screen and in text.)
Then there was the fact that even though you saw actors of color onscreen (more than you’d see on a show like Supernatural or Bitten or the Vampire Diaries), those characters tended to be killed off or disappeared by the end of the episode they were introduced in. On top of that, almost all of the recurring characters of color that got folks watching the show were killed off too by the end of season two.
Oh and at the end of season three, the chuckleheads in charge of Sleepy Hollow had the absolutely BRILLIANT idea to kill off Abbie Mills. So she died sacrificing herself to save the world (but really, it was because TPTB didn’t want to treat Julliard-trained Nicole Beharie with even a tenth of the respect she deserved as the co-lead on their show).
Sleepy Hollow wasn’t that serious.
Sleepy Hollow had a powerful, beautiful, dark-skinned Black woman as the co-lead of a show that had the potential to be one of the best shows in the genre. I saw so many Black women who weren’t into urban fantasy get into Sleepy Hollow because of her and then branch out into the genre.
I know it’s not nice to say that I’m glad Sleepy Hollow got canceled but well: I am glad and I’m not nice.
The show’s producers consistently tried to minimize Abbie’s role throughout her time as the second main character and they finally did it, by diminishing the bond of witnesses between her and Ichabod and essentially saying “hey, you’re not as special as you though you were”.
And the Black women who WERE watching and who DID make up a huge chunk of the fan base heard what TPTB were saying and decided to take their attention elsewhere. And the show suffered for that. (By the way, if you’re in the Flash fandom and rooting for Iris’ death because you somehow don’t get that she’s the core of the show? If Iris dies, this is what’s going to happen to your show. Believe it.)
I’m so damn happy that Sleepy Hollow got canceled.
I only wish it’d happened sooner.
You know… right after they killed Abbie off.