#Richonne is still the flavor of the month. I’m against it as are many fans of the comic book. There have been many arguments for and against this ship and some of them have been everything from insane racist, sexist BS to incomprehensible love fests that take fanboyism to new heights. The writers of The Walking Dead on AMC are brilliant. We’re now wrapping up 6 seasons of the show and it’s just as intense as ever and is setting up for one of the most dramatic finale’s ever. My argument has been and remains that the #1 reason The Walking Dead is such a good show is that they stick to the source material for the most part. All the most memorable episodes of the show in every season have been homages to the comic book, some so spot on that the exact panel and dialogue from the comic book was used. In other words, The Walking Dead on AMC is best when it follows the comic that it’s based on.
The Walking Dead Comic came out in 2003 and I began reading it in 2009 and it amazes me that there are still so many people who are fans of the TV show, who won’t and often outright refuse to read the comic book. In all honesty, I have a hard time calling these individuals fans, because a fan to me, is someone who loves something so much that they obsesses over every detail and try to learn as much as possible about the object of their fandom as possible. This lack of support for the source material and author highlights what I believe is the major division when it comes to the debate for and against #Richonne.
There exists an entire body of dare I say mostly women, who could care less about all the hard work, writing, and publication of the comics, but they wanted Rick and Michonne to hook-up and that’s all that matters. Established plots, story arcs, etc. is irrelevant. #Richonne happened and that’s all that matters. This to me, is the most egregious and ignorant bloc of the shippers out there. They claim to be fans, but they are disrespectful of Robert Kirkman and all his hard work and because they refuse to read about the characters and story the show is based on, they have no clue that what they think is great is potentially detrimental to the entire show and may actually make the show less than what it could be.
Andrea is the main reason why #Richonne was destined to happen. Comic Andrea was a young, 20 something, who was with Rick’s group from the beginning. Initially pensive, by the time she reached Alexandria, she’d become a bad-ass. After the death of Rick’s new flame Jesse, he leaned on Andrea and they hooked up. Currently, Carl calls her mom and rarely appears in a comic, except as Rick’s wife and co-leader of Alexandria. She’s rarely shown as the sharpshooting, sniper she’d become. Andrea has been completely domesticated rarely seen or heard.
TV Andrea was poorly cast and was borderline Lori annoying. They almost had to kill her on the show. When they did, they had to do something to still advance their adaptation of the comic book in a way that still works. So they used Michonne and Sasha in order to carry forward her storyline. This is one of the biggest problems with #Richonne.
Comic book Michonne is a warrior queen. She’s the embodiment of the feminist message. Michonne is more than equal to the men around her, she’s her own woman, she sleeps with who she wants and loves who she wants. Sexual relationships don’t diminish her and men pine after her, not the other way around. Michonne is the fiercest, deadliest character in The Walking Dead hands down. A silent and deadly apex predator, Michonne is voted most likely to be the last human living in the end. One of the baddest bad guys the survivors encountered, The Governor was terrified of Michonne. She killed Penny and tortured him even nailing his manhood to the floor. Michonne made it clear that to cross her, means death or worse.
TV Michonne on the other hand is a mere shadow of her comic version. Granted, I believe that part of the problem is that The Walking Dead is on AMC. Maybe if it were on HBO they could do more with the character, but no one who has read the comics would argue that TV Michonne is comparable to Comic Michonne in many ways. Though Danai Gurira is a phenomenal actress, the writing dictates that she can’t be the Michonne that fans have loved for more than a decade. This was amplified with #Richonne
The problem with #Richonne is that it RUINS Michonne more. Those “fans” who refuse to read the source material, if given the choice between the two Michonne’s would pick comic Michonne every time.
What’s disturbing is that many of the shippers bring up race when in comes to this Black woman being in a ship with the lead and while they think that shows some form of acceptance and a moving forward or progress in Television, it actually highlights that the character was railroaded.
Comic Michonne is stronger than Rick hands down in the comic. The Governor thought her more of a threat than Rick. Even after beating her and raping her for days, The Governor could not break her and paid for his treachery by her hand.
How much more progress and a demonstration of Hollywood being accepting of a strong Black female character, had they kept all that in? Rick is nearly equal to his comic counterpart, so why did they water down Michonne? In fact, The Walking Dead on AMC has a habit of taken strong, fierce Black Characters from the comics and watering them down. Tyrese went from the tough, dangerous, capable, father and right hand to Rick, to being a babysitter for instance.
Michonne was given worse treatment. She was mostly asexual though comic Michonne is very sexual and again being able to survive days of torture and get revenge highlighted the strength of her character having already lost her children and boyfriend on the onset of the apocalypse. Currently in the comic for instance, she found love only to have it snatched away, and is now on the warpath. We’ll never get to see this now because of #Richonne. In fact, we may get even more watering down of Michonne as she now takes comic Andrea’s role as Rick’s silent and rarely seen consort and Carl’s new mom.
#Richonne is a major deviation in The Walking Dead on AMC adaptation. It weakens Michonne even more, but it amplifies the butterfly effect on TV show adaptations.
No logical person expects an adaptation to be 100% faithful to the source material. In fact, it’s a great thing to see some deviation especially for the better, however shows like The Walking Dead, which were greenlit based on the success of their source material are always at their best when they follow closely what made the best sellers in the first place. As such, whereas small deviations like merging or deleting minor characters, ignoring sub subplots that don’t affect much, changing attributes or locations, etc. don’t impact the overall adaptation for the most part. However, when you do major deviations regardless of how great it is for ratings or what some fans lobby for, have the potential to destroy the show in the end. Plot deviations create a butterfly effect that increases the frequency of plot holes and missteps that often compound and cause the show to jump the shark so much that it begins to suck and is ultimately cancelled.
The change that seems good at the time, could be the downfall in the end.
When True Blood didn’t kill Lafayette at the end of season one, it created a chain reaction that helped ruin the show. Yes, we got an amazing actor, but we lost all the subplots from the novels that involve the cook at Merlotte’s always getting killed. Since we didn’t have that, the writers then had to find and make up stuff for Lafayette to do, hence all the magic stuff that got sillier as the show went on. By not making Jason a were-panther we lost access to the larger world and a greater connection to the faeries and ultimately the faerie war. Killing of Sophie Ann meant no Las Vegas pyramid rescue, Sookie never met fan-favorite were-tiger Quinn and more. Changes beget changes and it got out of control. No Bubba, no Desmond Cataliades or Diantha. True Blood is a perfect example of how one change seemingly for the good, can spiral out of hand. The same can be said of Under The Dome, but there’s rarely a Stephen King adaptation that gets it close to being right, so it was expected to fail.
This is my fear about #Richonne. Killing Dale meant keeping Herschel around longer and having to find someone else to be tainted meat. Creating characters like Daryl meant making Tyrese weaker. Killing Sophia meant no crazy Carol who kills herself after her boyfriend Tyrese is caught sleeping with Michonne. Killing Andrea means someone had to become Rick’s consort and Carl’s mom. Making Michonne the new Andrea means no relationship with Morgan, no propositioning Heath, and likely no Ezekiel which was the shows best chance at finally introducing a strong Black character. There’s so many butterfly effect moments in The Walking Dead on AMC that it’s hard to keep up with. The question #Richonne makes me ask over and over is with such a huge deviation, how long before something seriously breaks?
I guess we will find out with Negan.
In the end, I believe the shippers got this one wrong. It may make all your fan-fiction dreams and other fantasies come true, but it ruins Michonne more than she already was. I hope the writers can dig themselves out of this mess.