Let’s start this off with a disclaimer of sorts. I know AMC isn’t perfect and I know I have issues with loads of characters arcs across a variety of their shows. But for this moment, for this summit, and for this article, let’s talk and listen to each other. Let’s learn. And let’s understand that AMC, for all the faults that it has, is not just trying to give female creators a voice/opportunity/platform. They’re actually doing it.
We got an opportunity to join AMC and it’s content creators at its first-ever summit. AMC brought EP’s, showrunners, and cast members from the network’s remarkable and popular shows like The Walking Dead, Into the Badlands, Better Call Saul, and newcomer Dietland. And we, the fans/writers who have dedicated our lives and sleepless Sundays writing reviews, got to see the content that we love from a different perspective aka those who create it and those who have never dipped a toe in the world of fandom. (Poor unfortunate souls for the latter there.)
You, she, he, we, know what fandom is. But about half of the room at the AMC Summit seemed a bit lost and impressed by fan culture and what we’re capable of. It’s like they discovered a bright and shiny new stone and we’re (the fans) just sitting off to the side in a pile of beauty and swimming in fandom stones while watching the wee baby discover a whole new world. Thing is, AMC has discovered how bright, shiny, and important/valuable we fans are to the world of TV.
We are the consumers and AMC has decided to amp their game the fuck up to satisfy our thirst!
AMC is no longer at the center of the universe when it comes to their content.
And god am I proud that they figured it the fuck out.
They even came up with nice little terms for fans like “Oof = object of fandom” and “Efangelizing,” the latter being when you shout at your friend to sit down while you lay down the 47 reasons why they should like The Walking Dead and why they’re going to sit down and worship at the house of Dietland every Monday.
Unlocking this key to understanding us has enabled AMC to start compartmentalizing the huge magnitude of what their shows mean to us. We see ourselves and the struggles we’ve been through in women like Carol and Michonne from The Walking Dead. We relate to body issues or the weight of the world watching us and waiting to fit into a little box in women like Plum from Dietland and Kim Wexler from Better Call Saul. We even find peace, moments of self reflection, and a greater understanding of the loved ones in our lives because of the characters we connect with on screen.
Without an understanding of the fans watching the shows consumed, I don’t think AMC would’ve also been able to see that we are HEAVILY lacking in female centered, created, and directed content that says fuck you to expectations, the patriarchy, and the bits of society that want to fit us into a category or easily understandable box. But how can they not know, you ask? Well most people think that fans are a bunch of entitled trolls who want to scream, stalk, and act like we own the place. They ignore us. And when they do acknowledge us it’s to look down on us because they think they know better than us about the content we need in our lives. And plenty of times they think we’re bored men stuck in basements just keying away and trolling people.
(If you’re reading this in your basement, hey. *head nod*)
Fans are women who know they’re BAMF’s and are just waiting for the world to catch the fuck up because we’ve got money to spend on merchandise, experiences, and cons that understand our life experiences and mighty need to take a picture with Danai Gurira. (P.S. I need this.) And throughout the four panels held (The Power of Fandom, The Kick-Ass Women of AMC, From Book to Screen, and A Masterclass with Better Call Saul) I could tell that I was being seen.
That I was being acknowledged.
That I was being appreciated.
That AMC understood that yes, I am a fan, but I’m also a women just thirsty for change and stories that match my life experiences or show me a completely different one like Tulip O’Hare’s on Preacher.
That’s why I can’t get the words out of my head from all the women that starred in these panels, from the biggest showrunner to the person responsible for costume design, and that I’m struggling to come up with some fancy way to introduce them into this piece without going, “Here it is!”
Well, here it is! Each and every single one of these talented individuals have left me proud that my stories as a woman are being appreciated, that AMC is kicking down the door for other female creators to take the damn wheel, and that this is the future that my kids, nephews, grandkids, etc. are going to be left with/started off with.
Because of Angela Kang they will know that they can do this:
“When I was a kid, I didn’t think this was a job I could have. I didn’t think there were Asian women who could run the show, that wasn’t a thing. Now, there are so many more women who are showrunners and that’s exciting. It means the next generation can and go – hey of course this is a job I can have.” – Angela Kang
Because of Lorraine Touissant they will know that they can say fuck you to that glass ceiling because that bitch ain’t there:
“I come from these women that didn’t know that they couldn’t do it. They didn’t know about a glass ceiling. So I just didn’t expect one.” – Lorraine Touissant
Because of Julianna Marguilies they will know that they have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to their experiences:
“We’ve always been who we are, it’s just that now we’re finally being appreciated for it and not having to apologize for it.” – Julianna Marguilies
Because of Rhea Seehorn they will know that they are revolutionary women who don’t fit in any damn slot:
“That’s how they approach my character and that is not only what they tolerate in my contribution but what they expect in my contribution is making her a three-dimensional human being that never has to fit in the slot of what female characters are or what female characters do. She’s a human, which should not be revolutionary but for some reason it is.” – Rhea Seehorn
And because of networks like AMC things are changing for fans and women’s stories as a whole on TV into something where we are seen, appreciated, understood, and acknowledged. That’s something to be damn proud of.
The Walking Dead returns for season 9 Fall 2018.
Better Call Saul returns for season 4 on August 6th, 2018.
Into the Badlands airs Sundays at 10/9c.
Dietland airs Mondays at 9/8c.
What AMC stories, shows, or arcs have you connected to? What more could AMC do to connect to fans? Let us know in the comments section below!