Kill Her Off (Jen Lindley was a slut and sluts die)

JEN LINDLEY OKAY

*I spoil lots of plot points about Dexter, The Walking Dead, Dawson’s Creek, Breaking Bad and Mad Men below, so whatever you do DO NOT read if you want to stay TV-Pure*

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jen Lindley, lately. It didn’t matter at all how Lindley’s character developed – whether or not she became the ‘good girl’ she desperately longed to be, finally found somewhere she felt that she fit in, or became the proud badass rebel who embraced a destructive past rather than wither from it – she was always pigeonholed right back to the same old stereotype: wild, blonde, slut.

The supposed depravity of her early teen years in New York were so goddamn awful that she’s constantly reminded of it, reminds herself of it and is mercilessly punished for it in nearly every episode. Christ alive, Capeside.

Not very popular in school? Not getting along with the gang of bores you’ve inadvisably picked as pals? Lost another boyfriend to Joey ‘dishwater dull’ Potter? New galpal got drunk, fell off a cliff and died? That’s because you’re a deviant, wild child slut. Shame. On. You.

It isn’t just Jen who’s pigeon holed, either. In fairness every character on Dawson’s Creek endures the same, unrelenting, stick figure characterisations (the girl next door, the bad girl, the nerd, the black sheep) as the next; a formidable endless gloop of overblown vocabulary and poor teenage life choices bounced off the same stereotypical archetypes.

Joey, for one, is an all round do-gooder virgin. It doesn’t matter that she ends up with virtually every one of her male counterparts on the show (even the gay ones!), lives off Jen’s sloppy seconds or plays the kind of games with Dawson’s poor, overly sensitive heart that the Backstreet Boys would have scored a number 1 single off the back of, the end point is that she’s a good girl. And good girls survive and do well for themselves, because, hell, they deserve it.

Jen Lindley is not a good girl. And bad girls don’t survive or do well for themselves. And that’s exactly what happens.

NEVER HAVE SEXIf you look at it from the rules of the Scream films (written by one Kevin Williamson, who as it happens, also wrote Dawson’s Creek) and the standards of all mainstream modern horror films, then it stands to reason that of course Jen Lindley dies in the final ever episode of the Creek. Not only does she die (of a bullshit heart disorder thing which I think is supposed be the writer’s sophisticated way of symbolising her broken, slutty heart, or some shit), but she leaves behind her poor bastard child, after the father walks out on her. Because that’s what happens to bad girls, you guys, they get bumped-and-dumped. You know what happens to Joey Potter? She dances off into the sunset with Pacey ‘JACKPOT’ Witter in one hand, and presumably a winning lottery ticket in the other.

TRUE LUV

Jen, as a character, is the fictional punchbag for the writers during the entirety of the show. Her character arc is horrific (gets relocated from New York to Capeside for being ‘too wild’, moves in with bible bashing gran, dates Dawson, gets dumped by Dawson for being a slut, is hated by Joey for being a slut, watches Dawson and a slew of other exes fall in love with Joey, is loathed at school for being a slut, watches the only cool girl she knows die after falling drunkenly off a cliff, gets screwed over some more by a few other blokes, gets knocked up, dies), and that’s that. She’s the token slut-slaughter. She’s the morality tale. Keep your knees together, ladies, and your mouths shut, because it gets worse.

1 3 2

The slaughtering of specific female characters extends beyond the writers room on numerous other shows, too. A quick browse around the multitudes of comment sections, forums and blogs all around the internet shows that fans – both male and female, before I get called out for that shit – have no time for bad women.

This kind of character baiting is so arbitrary that people never address it as being a product of bad writing, but merely just a side effect of the character being female.

DEBSYes, Debs in Dexter is horrendous. Her constant, cartoonish swearing, complete inability to recognise basic serial killer traits (oh, hey sweet brother of mine! They found more dead bodies in the bay! Been out on your boat all night, again, huh? Cool!) despite being queen of the cops or whatever her title is, and one dimensional personality (extends all the way from ‘Hey Dexter, I’m making steak for dinner!’ to ‘Holy fuck, this shitting goddamn fucker has just fucked another fucking case and I’m fucking angry about that, fuck’) means that for season after season the general fan consensus has been akin to a pack of kids posting their ‘shit list’ letters off to Freddy Krueger in the hopes that one day he might read them and kill little bad girl Sarah Pigtails in her sleep. Deb bad. Deb die.

RITA DEADWhich, in fairness, is exactly what happened to Rita – Dexter’s hapless wife, who had three parts to her personality: pretty, cooking and smiling – and LaGuerta – angry, suspicious, ballbreaker – both killed off without a semblance of decent characterisation between them. I baited for their blood too, the same way you desperately want a wipe board to be clear again when somebody’s scrawled a dick on there with permanent marker.

It happened on The Walking Dead too. Lori was an atrocious character, but instead of actually just trying to reverse the damage and doing something interesting with her, they threw in the towel and gave the fans what they wanted. Cue an unfathomable death that entailed a fucking stupid emergency c-section followed by her own son having to shoot her in the head. The overall response to all of this wasn’t, ‘well, she was a really shit character’, it was ‘well, you know, she did start shagging Shane only a few weeks after she thought her husband was dead, and then dump Shane for her husband again, and then try and protect shane after he attempted to rape her and got herself knocked up and all that, so you know, bitches be crazy. She had it coming’. Basically, she was a slutty housewife. Aint nobody got time for that. Kill her off.lori-funny-walking-dead-meme1

The only other worse killed off character than this in The Walking Dead was poor old T-Dawg, who presumably, after the writers realised that they’d made a complete mess of trying to write a ‘black character’ decided to just scrub him off the scripts completely, kill him in a misty and heroic manner (but completely without fanfare) and then try again with some new black characters, introduced at exactly the same time that poor old T-Dawg made his undramatic exit.walking-dead-meme-t-dog-this-doll-gets-more-airtime-than-me

Swing and a miss.

There’s also, however, female characters who aren’t poorly written, but completely misread. Skyler from Breaking Bad isn’t seen as being an unavoidable victim in the terrific tragedy that has been Walter White’s descent from cancer patient trying to save his family to crystal meth kingpin, she’s seen as being a weak, stubborn and pithy woman who (shame on her!) won’t pander to Walter’s wants and just be the perfect, supportive wife that her (in fairness, pretty badass) husband so adamantly wants her to be. Kill her off.

Betty Draper, too, isn’t celebrated like her ex-husband Don is, for all of her flaws (including, but sure as hell not limited to, her fiery temper, impulsiveness, and poor parental skills) but is abhorred for them. Don Draper is a jerk. Betty Draper is a jerk. Betty is the one the audience hate to hate. Don is the one they love to hate. Kill her off.

JEN N JACKJen Lindley was never really hated by the audience. In fact, sometime around the episodes that her and Jack McPhee started to build up a fab-fag-hag relationship and she turned the entire Capeside High cheerleading team into a cast of misfits in ripped fishnets and ironic pig tails, she became a firm fan favourite.
It made no sense to kill her off, especially when the real femme-bait for the fictional grim reaper was Joey ‘kill me’ Potter.

But beyond what the fans want, and beyond what makes for great TV (seriously, can you imagine how much better the final episode of Dawson’s Creek would have been if Harmony Korine could have written it, turning the Creek into a PG-13 version of KIDS with Joey Potter in Chloe Sevigny’s role? AMAZING TV), at the end of the day it’s the writers who call the shots. And if those writers have a certain morality to preach or just don’t have a clue how to write a convincing female (or black, or gay) character then you can bet your ass that you may as well be watching Barney Rubble in a wig and calling him Betty. It’s not the women who deserve to die. It’s the poor writing. Kill it off.

BARNEY

Advertisements

One thought on “Kill Her Off (Jen Lindley was a slut and sluts die)

  1. Pingback: Snogging Versus Death | A Feminist Trash TV Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s