The Walking Dead: Sarah Wayne Callies talks gender double standards

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC, The Walking Dead
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC, The Walking Dead /

Lori Grimes probably won’t make any top 10 favorite characters on The Walking Dead lists anywhere. There may be some people who liked her or were indifferent, but most fans have pretty strong feelings toward the dislike side of the scale.

The extreme dislike took the actor who played Lori by surprise, but did not bother her.  “I didn’t see it coming with Lori. I knew she was complicated … I never want to play a character in order to be liked. That’s vanity, that’s not art.” (Via Bustle)

I was not always fond of Lori, but there were some times I really liked her and a few times I really hated her. But I don’t think my reasons boiled down to the bad mother thing that is joked about. I think the two reasons people generally give are bad mother and Shane.

Here’s where, if you really think about it, Sarah is right that there’s a gender double standard.  “I also think of some of what was going on with Lori was tremendous gender double standards. People judged her parenting decisions in ways that they never judged her husband’s parenting decisions, because the expectation was she should care for the child in the home. I learned a lot, actually, about our cultural function from people’s reactions to Lori.”

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Sarah doesn’t mention Shane, just parenting, so I’ll start with that. People joke about Carl never staying in the house and Lori never watching him. But he was 10. She didn’t need to be stuck to him like he was 4, even in an apocalypse.

Rick, Carl and Judith. The Walking Dead - AMC
Rick, Carl and Judith. The Walking Dead – AMC /

Rick has a baby and nobody makes him out to be a bad dad for not knowing where Judith is every second. And when big strong Tyreese decided to take care of a precious baby, he was considered a wimp and people wanted him to be killed off because he had become a nanny and a useless character.

Sophia was usually out being a kid with Carl and nobody calls Carol a bad mother. Bad things can happen even when your kids are standing right next to you.

Part of Lori’s  lack of appeal was the misfortune of the timing of the apocalypse in their marriage.  We didn’t like her from the way Rick talked about her before we even met her. And it even included the way she said something cruel in front of Carl.

As far as Shane goes, I wonder if the reaction would have been the same if a man thought his wife had died and found comfort with his wife’s best friend during those 2 months. We were set up to hate Lori because we loved Rick already and we didn’t want our hero hurt.

Something else that seems to come into play in many action/hero/journey/growth movies is that the hero usually fights with his wife and separates somehow while the hero works things out alone and then the wife shows up at the end of the movie ready to forgive and understand.  Watch for that pattern!

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It must be difficult to write good conflict with the married people working together. The one movie I remember distinctly being pleased with that it didn’t follow that pattern fully was Field of Dreams. His wife never just told him he was crazy. She tried to keep the farm going while he went out chasing the people he thought he was meant to find. But he still had to go off on his own for a while.

So while I didn’t always love Lori, I did love her telling off Carol and Andrea about the gun and the looks though, Sarah Wayne Callies made me think a little more about her character and stereotypes. P. S. I also loved Andrea telling off Lori at the farm!

“It’s fascinating, I’ve gotten thousands of letters from around the world from people thanking me for Lori, for her strength and her unwillingness to be sort of cute and unthreatening just because that’s more appealing. I stand by Lori. I think she’s an amazing character. I think she’s beautifully written.” (Via Bustle)

Next: Timeline of events in The Walking Dead

Even if you hated her, Rick once loved her, Carl loved her; her death was heartbreaking and she gave us Judith.