Pilot: Okay, there were 2 women in this thing — live ones, anway — they had exactly one scene, and only one of them displayed any kind of personality. And that personality was “Make half-hearted attempt to stand up for something you believe is right; capitulate immediately to the alpha male and go make out with him in the forest”. But okay, it’s the pilot, you really shouldn’t judge shows by them.
Episode One: Why are they making the woman whose idea it was to look for escape via the sewer wait on the roof while two dudes who know nothing on the subject crawl around in the tunnels? (The cartoonishly racist character played by Michael Rooker was also offensive; not because he was racist but because it suggested that all racist people are really oafish and obvious in their racism. We all know that nowadays, the more subtle forms of dogwhistle racism are much more corrosive.)
Episode 2: Okay, WOW. Apparently women’s job in the zombie apocalypse will be laundry. And cowering in the bushes whenever a zombie shambles into camp.
Episode 3: Oh look, women got to do something besides laundry: fish! You know what, too little too late. Peace out, show.
Look, my problem with this show is not that some of the characters are sexist. It’s that the show itself is sexist. It assumes that when civilization collapses, everyone will just blindly fall back into these rigid, archaic gender roles. And except for some token grumbling by them uppity kollij-edumacated wimminz, this will be accepted as just and meet. It treats the notion that women are human beings as some kind of silly indulgence of effete civilizations that will just naturally fall by the wayside when the shit hits the fan.
One of the things I’ve always liked about end-of-the-world scenarios is the theme of people rising above, of finding strength they didn’t know they had. World War Z is a great example of this; as is the classic doomsday comet novel from the 1970s Lucifer’s Hammer (although we'll have to ignore, for our purposes here, the parts of that book that are horribly racist).
People that can contribute to the group are going to be treated well for it, and what they’re packing between their legs is secondary. Sitting on your ass all day, like that wife-beater; or freaking out and maniacally digging graves until you get sunstroke and have to be tied to a tree? Hit the road, you wastes of skin.
Not to succumb to internet tough guy-ism here, but I really don’t see myself finding a man to take care of the scary monsters for me when the dead rise from their graves. I’ve read The Zombie Survival Guide. I’m going looting at Academy Sports in Lafayette (picture a super Wal-Mart with nothing but guns and other weapons and sporting goods) and TCOB myself. Plus, I know how to pickle (and theoretically, preserve meat). Dude, I would totally make it.
I’ve heard from people who read the graphic novels that the television show made some improvements, and hooray for them, I guess. But there’s always gonna be something that’s more sexist. It doesn’t mean I have to accept things that are a little less sexist.