I passionately pursue uninfluenced first impressions of almost any shows, books, movies, or art that I experience, to the point that I sometimes avoid movie trailers for fear of “spoilers.” I also watch/read/see most shows, books, movies, and art well after it’s released, during which time people take the opportunity to consume, review, and discuss those things. Therefore, I have to stay on red alert for spoilers much later than is reasonable. Out of consideration for any other dedicated-but-woefully-late media consumers like me, this is your official spoiler alert for a show that started in 2010.
Andrea from The Walking Dead is sensitive, pragmatic, intelligent, and in general could be considered inherently good. She is fiercely loyal, and has some progressive ideas about suicide and choice that I’m not always sure I disagree with. It was interesting watching her refocus her deep well of passion from the verbal and mental channel of a civil rights lawyer to the physical and instinctual role of a post-apocalyptic survivor. She is not afraid of her voice, and is a refreshing example of an unapologetically womanly woman who does not use her gender as an excuse or bargaining chip. All in all, she is a complex, well-developed character worth studying, with admirable qualities and understandable flaws.
I can’t fucking stand her.
She makes some stupid stubborn stand to prove she makes her own rules and I want to smack her. She runs her stupid mouth because she’s not a timid little sheep and I want to smack her. She sticks up for her stupid boytoys out of blind ignorance and I want to smack her. She diligently practices with her stupid gun and valuably contributes to her stupid communities and I want to smack her. Her stupid hair curls in a pretty way and I want to smack her.
Andrea is a central character from basically the beginning, and my intense dislike for her spawned early and grew fast. Something instinctual and primal responds whenever she is mentioned or appears onscreen, and that something says “Smack her.” I’d like to think this is not merely the actress’s fault for looking smackable somehow, but I haven’t read the comics, so I can’t technically say that isn’t why yet. However, I went through the show wanting to smack several other characters, and the desire to smack eventually subsided to empathy for pretty much all of them–even Merle. Andrea’s smackability has been an unwavering constant.
Her efforts are no less earnest and thoughtful than anyone else’s, and they’re all operating in a reality for which I have no obvious personal reference point, so my harsh criticism of her has felt relatively unmotivated. I attempted to temper and quell my Andrea-induced rage with rational analysis and self-reflection.
The truth is that I make stubborn stands to prove I make my own rules. I run my mouth because I’m not a timid little sheep. I’ve stuck up for my boytoys out of blind and willful ignorance. I don’t have a gun yet, but I lose a lot of sleep trying to figure out how to valuably contribute to my communities. My hair curls in a pretty way.
I don’t remember precisely when I looked at Andrea and saw me instead, but I was not thrilled. I don’t enjoy finding new ways to not like myself–despite my talent for it–and the realization took all the fun out of hating her. As fashionable as self-deprecation is, people often don’t get the joke, and I probably look like a jackass tearing up a character I pretty plainly resemble to anyone who knows me well. I feel like I’ve been robbed of something because I never get to purely indulge in despising a character (obvious exception: Dolores Umbridge).
And so, forgiving Andrea is extremely annoying. I’m pretty grumpy about it, and am trying to do it gracefully by being frank about my reluctant but legitimate link with her. She has given me an opportunity to assess my own behavior from the outside, which is useful any time anyway, and is perhaps especially necessary during this current period when I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts about the consequences of my actions.
Andrea dies relatively early and relatively badly. I’m not anticipating any zombie apocalypse-level crisis in my future, but her full narrative is something I should probably consider as I work on my own life. I will try to be less annoying, try to be a better team player, and try not to sleep with power-hungry psychopaths who will try to murder me and all my friends.