afternoon e-mail blast. It’s super-easy, and it’s on the house!
The show’s newest romance is just the latest bold story line.
took a major departure from its source material Sunday night, and—for the most part—audiences cheered. Rick Grimes and Michonne No-Last-Name-Required made good on the sexual tension and mutual affection that’s been simmering for three seasons. It’s just the latest in a long list of choices that has made the hugely popular zombie series one of TV’s most progressive shows.
When she was fully introduced to the show back in Season 3, Michonne first appeared to have some sort of attraction to Laurie Holden’s character, Andrea. But in the comics, Michonne is almost exclusively attracted to or romantically paired with black men like Tyrese, Morgan, and the not-yet-on-the-show Ezekiel. There are some hints that she
be carrying a torch for Rick, but she’s nowhere close to acting on it. But actress Danai Gurira says that she knew since way back in Season 3 that she had a special chemistry with Andrew Lincoln. Gurira names “Clear,” one of the best episodes in the show’s six seasons, as the moment she first felt it, and you can see it in her cat-who-ate-the-canary grin.
“I remember chatting about it for the first time with [current showrunner Scott] Gimple,” Gurira told
. “But, back then it wasn’t his call [he wrote the episode under then-boss Glen Mazzara].” That episode saw Carl, Michonne, and Rick peel off from the larger group and briefly form their own little family unit. Rick’s wife, Lori, may only have been a few episodes gone, but the writing was there on the graffiti-smeared walls and their fizz-pop chemistry inspired a small-but-vocal part of the fandom to begin to hope that Michonne and Rick might one day act on it. Like many seemingly unlikely couples before them, Rick and Michonne got a portmanteau nickname (Richonne!) and a fervid fan campaign.
But are Rick and Michonne really all that unlikely? Andrew Lincoln seemed to think so. Here’s his reaction to reading the script for Episode 10:
I sat there and screamed when I read it. I ran to her trailer, banged on her door and screamed, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” It’s insane and I loved it! It is a strange experience because their relationship for so long — as friends and as actors — we’ve been playing a certain complicated, difficult, respectful and loving almost familial relationship. And to step through the portal into this new place was really trippy.
Fans may find themselves surprised by this “new place” as well, because, as Viola Davis put it in her 2014 Screen Actors Guild acceptance speech, Hollywood doesn’t always think of “dark-skinned, African-American” women when looking to cast a “sexualized, messy, mysterious woman.” Michonne shares plenty in common with Davis’s
character, including the killer smile and enviable biceps.
comic book and the show have long been ringing the bell for progressive characters and relationships. Sure, the show had a problem at the start with a rotating cast of easily killed black men, but somewhere in Season 3, the
hit its stride. The toughest warrior in the show’s battle-hardened cast is Carol, played by the 50-year-old Melissa McBride . And, if the ratings are any indication, the inter-racial and queer couples at the center of this show (Glenn/Maggie, Aaron/Eric, Denise/Tara, now Rick/Michonne) have done nothing to dampen the
’s popularity with millions of viewers from coast to coast. Some growing pains aside, the show has proven again and again that, while its viewers might enjoy watching escalating horror and big men wield bigger guns, its bolder storytelling strokes have been embraced as well.
s recent stellar track record with progressive characters and relationships, it still very much matters that Gimple and comic creator/executive producer Robert Kirkman happily pulled the trigger on this particular relationship. It doesn’t
like merely fan service; there were three seasons of lead-up here. But as Vulture’s E. Alex Jung put it, “for awhile it seemed Richonne, like other Tumblr favorites — Stucky (Captain America and Bucky) or Hannigram (Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter) — was destined to exist in the imaginations of the viewer.” These ships, as they’re known on the Internet, often carry enormous weight for audiences because they
feel so outside the norms of what’s allowed in film and TV. We may still be pretty far from having a gay relationship in a
of StormPilot (Poe Dameron and Finn) so vital to fans frustrated with a lack of representation on-screen.
But more and more, we’re seeing Hollywood creatives willing to be as progressive as your friendly neighborhood Tumblr teen. The first big step came from the under-watched animated Nickelodeon show
, which fulfilled fan-fueled desire to see bi-racial female leads, Korra and Asami (Korrasami), live happily ever after. But it’s an even bigger deal to see that sort of progressive coupling on a massively popular show like
like a big deal that the white male hero might pick the strong black woman as his partner, but that choice matters to someone, and, best of all, it makes perfect sense.
Sam was a simple-natured boy with a love-hate relationship for Carol (and her cookies) and ended up being one of the biggest burdens in Alexandria, wreaking havoc on Rick and his crew as they maneuvered themselves through a seemingly endless horde of zombies. We can’t blame him for being haunted by Carol’s goose-bump-raising quote about being eaten alive by monsters, which ultimately led to his, Jessie’s, and Ron’s death. Then again, who really thought his fate would fare for the better when the mid-season finale ended with him wailing “Mom?” in a sea of zombies?
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