Doing the Lord’s Work in Sleepy Hollow

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Abbie Mills and her partner, Ichabod Crane

My #HollowHangout girls are falling apart. Chrissy, @SleepyAddicts, had surgery yesterday; Christine, @SpotonLI, brought her doggy home with a “cone-of-shame” and knows way too many cocktail recipes; Linda @Gentlegale, took to her bed with back pains; Darla, @OriginalDBubble, Regina, @clement_regina and Michelle @MichelleEdd83 are still crying and trying to find the answer to the question, “What just happened?”; and I’ve just come home from the doctor after getting 20 cortisone shots in my leg and foot because of a psoriasis outbreak. We’ve jumped ship from #SleepyHollow to #TWD. The rest of the gang is just plain mad. They’re ready to join the cast of #TheAmericans just to get their hands on a weapon. Most of us just wish we could try some of the stuff that has Brian all omniscient in #Limitless. Maybe our good old friend @dougaa could send some healing balm our way.

How did we get to this point?  We thought we had to just get through 7 years of tribulations and then take a honeymoon with The Witnesses, celebrate their “Bond” with the holy sacrament of marriage, join a conga line with all of the #Sleepyheads, witness the birth of Libbie and Benjamin, and join the back yard barbecues with Frank, Cynthia and Macey and Joe and Jenny. And don’t forget the fireworks and apple pie a  la mode on the 4th .

Well, that was one of many scenarios in the fanfic world. And no matter what you think may have been the future of Abbie and Crane, those futures have all disappeared. This was the big shock. Our writers were called out for some timeline issues over the course of the last two seasons. But this, stealing time, well, that’s a biggy. You can’t argue it. It’s final. And it takes the future with it. I know for me, this was the biggest disappointment. The future of two beloved characters has been altered and I add Crane to this, because with Abbie gone, he will be a different man should the series continue. And our dear Abbie just poof–disappeared.

The ladies of the #HollowHangout have shared all kinds of ideas with each other about the show. We all have our own passions. I came to the show knowing the work of Orlando Jones. I had recently seen “42” and was somewhat familiar with Beharie. I didn’t know who the hell Tom Mison was other than “Tall, Dark, & British”, until I googled him and realized I did know him as Ben Sixsmith. I also realized he has lovely double-jugs. He’s such a chameleon, that one. Chrissy is a Sci-Fi, Fantasy, soap-opera romantic who was married to the hashtag #ichabbie. Michelle, Regina, and Darla are fierce Beharie fans who love supernatural story-telling. Linda is a great fan of Sci-Fi and good writing. And Christine showed up at @TomMisonFans NYC meetup last fall where we had so much fun just talking Sleepy Hollow. We are all #Sleepyheads. Or should I say “were”. It’s hard to tell where we’ll all land.

I’ve tried to stay off social media the last couple of days because I couldn’t take any more anger. It just fueled my own sadness and for me, dwelling on what happened was not healthy. When you deal with immune system disorders, emotions can make you physically ill. I decided I had to find a balance somewhere. But because the Hollow girls DM each other every day, it’s hard for me to ignore the feelings and thoughts of this group of ladies whom I have come to cherish.

Skepticism is what caused me to watch the pilot. I worship in the church in the center of the burial ground that inspired Irving’s tale. I couldn’t imagine how a TV series could come out of this story. Well, as soon as “Sympathy for the Devil” rang out, I was hooked. (When Orlando came to the church a year later, we stood in front of the 18th century communion table and I told him how happy I was that he and Lyndie came to the place that was at the heart of the story that was at the heart of his Sleepy Hollow. He reached over for me and gave me an earth shattering hug. For that, Orlando will always be “my guy”.)

Initially, it was the twistory  I most enjoyed about Sleepy Hollow, because I’m surrounded by echos of the American Revolution in Westchester county. My fascination with the growing relationship of Crane and Abbie grew gradually, and mostly because of the compassionate way in which Abbie was written. The yellow sticky notes scattered on switches and appliances and plumbing with operational instructions so that Crane could make himself a cup of coffee and take a shower in the morning endeared me to her. Abbie was a strategist who could size up what was needed at the moment, be it donut-holes or a travelling spell. Or a bath for a man who had been in the ground for 200 years.

Many of the Hangout gals came because of Nikki Beharie. They were familiar with all her work and they just adore her. When she became Abbie Mills, they couldn’t get enough. For these sci-fi fans, having a black female kick-ass action hero was a dream come true. A sign of changing times. Better times. Sleepy Hollow had the most diverse cast on TV at the time and it seemed organic, not forced. The Paley Fest panel was a sheer celebration of the story, the actors, the diversity of cast, the writing, everything.

As the show progressed, it was as if they were indeed doing the Lord’s work. (I’m borrowing this from a SleepyHead, who can use this phrase in interesting ways.) The synergy of cast and story showed us a world where integrity, loyalty, sacrifice were the norm. Where emotional life was not reduced to sentimentalism. Where people from diverse backgrounds and times could indeed work together for the salvation of the world. The monsters themselves were cautionary tales of the cost of sin in the world. A man who is so jealous he allows his emotional heart to separate itself from his rational mind transforming him from lover to destroyer – The Headless Horseman. A woman who is so attached to her unrequited love, she would forfeit heaven for a chance to deprive another of love – The Weeping Woman. A house full of secrets, buried deeply in roots of the family tree which foments a lineage of lies – The Scarecrow. I could go on with these metaphors, but you get the picture. Whether intended or not, this show became a story of salvation and redemption mingled with the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in relationship to the lives and exploits of The Witnesses and their comrades with a pinch of biblical revelation thrown in. This show, derived from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, came to reflect the national dialog of social justice and gender and racial equality. Sometimes a thing becomes more than was intended. That synergy of all the components that made up Sleepy Hollow became greater than anyone could have imagined. Way beyond the dramatic image of the Headless Horseman pulling a lock and load.

Washington Irving was a shaper of culture. I’m not an Irving scholar, I’m a new student of the man and I can’t get enough. Born between the American Revolution and the Civil War, he lived in a time of relative peace, with the exception of the War of 1812 which, among other things, gave us our National Anthem. In his fifteenth year he came to the Tarrytowns and discovered the Dutch Reformed Church and Burial Ground and familiarized himself with Dutch stories and culture as well as the landscape around the Pocantico River. As a young man he went off to England to attend to a failing family business and it is there, in London, that he took up pen and paper and wrote the stories that made their way into the “Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon”. Here is where you will find the Headless Horseman, Brom Bones, Katrina Van Tassel and of course, Rip Van Winkle.

Irving wanted to build an American culture separate from the heritage of the British motherland. Perhaps that was why he found the Dutch so interesting. (If you know more about this, please use the comments to enlighten me.I know that I am being overly simplistic).  For example, he took the Dutch legend of Sinterklass and together with the artist Thomas Nast and the  Episcopal priest, Clement Moore created the iconic image of our American Santa Claus.

I was talking to the Hollow Hangout ladies about this and we thought wouldn’t it be cool to do a Sleepy Hollow meet-up in Sleepy Hollow, NY at the Old Dutch Church and talk about how Sleepy Hollow changes culture. Everyone was excited about this. We shared our ideas with Monique Jones and Jamie Broadnax and I started an outline of what we might want to do that day focusing on bloggers, fanfic writers, fan artists, video-makers – all the creative forces inspired by this TV show to create, get involved, and uplift. It was an exciting plan. I say this here because I see on line that SJW – Social Justice Warriors – is being used as a pejorative against some of the fans who strongly feel the loss of this culture-shaping character, our “Treasure”,Abbie Mills and the talented artist who brought her to life. That’s unfortunate. It’s not productive. And it doesn’t change the reality that a large part of the fandom has been paralyzed by the sudden and shocking loss of this character.

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Orlando Jones and Lyndie Greewood visited Sleepy Hollow, NY in fall 2013.

In his 2015 year-end letter, Orlando Jones wrote this to his fans:

“What I’m most passionate about is removing myself from a system that is risk averse and focuses on a narrow prism of stories to spoon feed to the masses. I want to support the next generation of Ava Duvernays and Ryan Cooglers. I believe we need more Latino, Asian, and indigenous storytellers. I want to lead the charge by telling stories in non-traditional formats via emerging platforms like VR and mobile. I want to be the catalyst that inspires young black, brown, and non-binary girls and boys (and all those who are traditionally left to stand outside the gates of “the industry” waiting for their chance) to embody the merger of the poet and the engineer and define the new paradigm of how stories are told.”

Once again, I am inspired by Orlando. I love the idea of a cadre of diverse poet-engineers fighting the demons of all the fears and all the “isms” that separate the human family.

The plethora of creative work that was inspired by the TV show Sleepy Hollow can not be ignored. While we may be disappointed, crushed, and even broken by the turn of events, it would be so sad to let go of all the beauty we have shared over the last three years. I have been made a much richer person through my interactions with Sleepy Hollow fans, their art, activism, writing, and story-telling, and I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water.

When children come to the Old Dutch and ask me, is there really a Headless Horseman, I take my time. Their eyes light up. I get down to their level as much as I can with my arthritic knees and I tell them that I never give up the secrets of a story-teller, but the mark of a good story is that it will inspire them to write a story. Then I ask them what they would like to write about and they all say “The Headless Horseman”. God bless them. I didn’t answer their question, instead, I set them on their own path.

I don’t know where this is going fall out. The anger is still palpable. The sense of loss, real. Right now, as I write these words, many of my on line friends are promoting the tag “Abbie Mills Deserves Better”. And I think I saw that it is trending. So this is not just a figment of a small part of the fandom’s imagination. The hurt is real.

I ask, do we have the strength or resolve to, in the words of Abbie Mills to the 18th century Captain Crane,”Hug it out?”

Is it too late?

I hope not.

But for true reconciliation, there must be an opportunity for real dialogue – “eye-to-eye”. This is a challenge that FoxTV should consider.

tomandnikki
Nicole Beharie & Tom Mison – “O Happy Day!”

Libbie (short for Liberty) and Benjamin are the names of the Mills/Crane children in the fanfic of CastleriggCircle (BanjoOnMyKnee)

Treasure is the pet-name Crane has for Abbie in many fanfics. I’m reminded by Jena Myers that this is how Tom Mison referred to Nikki Beharie in an interview.

Update: 2 weeks later – our little Hollow Hangout did implode from the emotional response to the finale. Very sad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Doing the Lord’s Work in Sleepy Hollow

  1. And Tom called Nicole “Treasure…” Such sweet people. Such a sad ending. But maybe something good can rise, like the Phoenix, out of its ashes…

    Like

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