Angela Darmody: Killed by Lazy Writing

I hope nobody was too surprised by what happened to Angela Darmody and her girlfriend Sunday night on the usually stellar “Boardwalk Empire.” If you were surprised, then you haven’t been paying attention to pop culture very carefully. The character played by Aleksa Palladino is just the most recent victim.

*Spoiler Warning*

As I had predicted, Manny Horvitz (William Forsythe) descended on Atlantic City with blood on his mind. He believes that Jimmy Darmody, who he’s been needling over a debt, was the architect of a failed attempt on his life. He chokes the location of the Darmody home out of bootlegger Mickey Doyle and creeps in during the middle of the night. When he finds Jimmy’s wife Angela in the bed and the shower running, he takes her hostage and waits for the bathroom door to open. When it does, he shoots the figure that emerges. It’s not Jimmy Darmody, though. Instead, he has shot Angela’s new girlfriend. He is genuinely surprised, but wastes little time in terrorizing and killing Angela despite her pleas for mercy. Horvitz makes sure that both women are dead, shooting each one extra time after both are already lying still in blood on the floor.

I should have predicted the eventual victim of Manny’s wrath here on LeBlog last week. I was pretty sure of who it would be. I did not make that prediction, however, because I wanted to believe that it wasn’t true. I told my wife, but I guess nobody would take her word for it. I sure wish I hadn’t been right.

There was ample reason to believe that the writers were done with Angela. Very recently, she and Jimmy had admitted to each other that they were not in love. If Angela is not married to Jimmy, what is her place in the show? This is a show about gangsters, not about painters. Also, this was happening at a time when Jimmy’s status as top man in Atlantic City appeared to be getting the better of him. Oh, and there was that psychopath butcher coming for him, too.

But there’s a much more powerful reason that I believed Angela’s days were numbered. It’s the same reason Shirley MacLaine’s character had to die at the end of “The Children’s Hour.” It’s the same reason Sandy Dennis died in “The Fox.” It’s why Tara on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was shot dead and why Tara on “True Blood” was shot in the head just THIS SEASON.

I can’t lay out the situation any clearer than it was done at this site:

http://stephenbooth.org/lesbiancliche.htm

The specifics there have a lot to do with the controversy over Tara’s death on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but the same cliche visited on that fan base has been visited on those of “Boardwalk Empire.”

I will continue to watch this show, but I am disappointed by the laziness and thoughtlessness of its writers this week.

I am sorry, Angela. You deserved better. So did we.

Posted on November 28, 2011, in personal musings, reviews, TV and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. There’s a lot to keep track of in pop culture. I don’t actually blame anyone if they don’t know the backstory on this. I am frustrated by the thoughtless recycling of hurtful images and story devices (you can’t call this a storyline).

  2. The interpretation present in http://www.stephenbooth.org/lesbiancliche.htm is highly biased, in my view.

    Lebian couples with tragic fates can represent an atempt to sensibilize and touch the viewer. Not a explicit conspiration to show that “homossexuality is bad”.

    People forget that those guys in the media always sided with lefitist and gay groups.

    If we pay atention to the fact that there are much more heterossexuals or implicit heterossexuals portrayed in the media as psycopaths, murderers etc, the number is greaterr. And i dont see any heterossexyal complaining about that.

    People tend to see things in a way they want to. They gotta see the things in a way that the cultural atmosphere favores that.

  3. Percentage-wise, that just doesn’t ring true to me. There have been plenty of murderous gay and lesbian characters in films.
    Just off the top of my head, there are murderous gay characters in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Cruising,” “Basic Instinct,” “Barbarella,” “North By Northwest,” and “Pulp Fiction.”
    Not to mention the often unspoken gayness of countless villanous characters throughout film history (or were they just British?).
    The point is, that if all tv and film characters perished at the rate of the gay ones, it would be hard to maintain a primetime lineup, and movies would be even bigger bloodbaths. EVERY film would have to have an ending scene like in Hamlet in which half the cast bites the dust.
    The rate is out of balance.

  4. Now that you saw the finale, tell me, there was a gay undertone between Jimmy and Richard?

    Giimme a break.

  5. I never said there was.

    If your point is that assumed straight characters were killed in each of the last two episodes, I do not contest that. That is clearly true.
    My point of view on this is two-fold:
    1) Neither of the main characters who died in the last two weeks was killed in a context that can be construed as a comment on anything but the circumstances of that character. Both were killed for stabbing someone else in the back. The Commodore literally, Jimmy figuratively. Angela was killed by one of Jimmy’s gangster rivals as retribution. That event did not need to be framed as it was in the context of her sexuality. It seems even more pointless now that Jimmy has died.
    2) I do not mean to suggest that no gay characters should ever die in TV and films. I merely mean to suggest that in our current spot in history the rate is out of balance. When you can offer evidence that the percentage of explicitly straight characters who perish is equal to that rate in homosexual characters, I may reconsider my position, but this just doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Thank you for reading and commenting. The thoughts of other peolpe are always hoped for and instructive.

  6. True blood spoiler. I got the DVD for Christmas, I’ll not bother watching it now. Thanks a bunch.

  7. btw, it hasn’t been released yet.

    • Maybe he got a pirated copy for X-mas… (we really need emoticons so I could put a little eye-roll face here).

      The article itself is a spoiler. There is a spoiler warning. And someone really wants to whine about spoilers for a show that aired last summer?

      Welcome to the internet, Stu. (insert eye roll face)

  8. Haha. I take my spoilers on the chin. I accidentally read the headline for this article while looking at what else was on your blog after reading about The Walking Dead. While I’m up to date with the US on TWD, I’m playing catch up with BWE watching as it airs on television here in Australia.

    D’oh! Oh well, that’s the net for you.

    Having watched that episode this morning, I thought I’d come back and check out your blog … only to trip over the other articles about deaths in the next two episodes. Serves me right. LOL.

    I’m not up to date with Tru Blood either. : )

  9. sorry about that, ikeebear.
    Obviously, I was posting with the hopes of attracting regular viewers who would understandably be abuzz about the most recent episodes and might be looking around the web to see what other people thought. The most efficient way to do that was to include what I thought would be the most direct search words for that crowd.
    I would encourage you to watch those episodes anyway, because there’s a lot of other stuff also going on.

    • No worries, buddy. It’s just one of the hazzards of the net, compounded by living on the opposite side of the planet to the US.

      I actually watched the last two episodes yesterday and today, so I’m going to check out your other articles now.

      Cheers.

  10. Caught up with this episode last night. Obviously, I knew almost a year in advance that Angela Darmody (whoever that was) would be killed by lazy writing. So I wasn’t really shocked when it happened.

    I missed the last half of the first season of the show. But I never really developed any connection with Angela. That coupled with the fact I knew the death was coming, I really couldn’t get all that worked up when it finally happened.

    It did seem a little graphic. And the double tap was extra cruel. But that is in keeping with the show. I agree about the portrayal of gays and lesbians in movies and TV as a whole. But I don’t hold any one show responsible for that. (Not saying that’s what you were doing either.)

    Now that time has passed, has the initial outrage faded at all?

    • I rewatched the scene by chance recently, and of course the nature of it was not a surprise at all.

      The character’s death was never a surprise to me. I had predicted it internally. What bothers me is A) it added to the unusually high death rate of homosexual characters in TV & movies. B) the scene was post-coital, which sends an unfortunate subtle message, sort of like simillar scenes in 70s/80s horror flicks. C) it was unnecessary. The character could have been sent packing with her new friend if the writers had nothing else they wanted to do with her.

      The only real positive of the scene was that it led to the freak out crazyness that occurred the next episode. But that could’ve been managed some other way.

      Obviously, my opinion about what was done and how it was done has not changed. The outrage at the time stemmed in part from what had happened not long before on True Blood, and the feeling that it had just become open season. Enough was enough, already.

      • Yeah, you indicated you saw it coming. There was a great deal of foreshadowing.

        I can’t really argue with any of your criticisms. I tend to take stuff like this on a case-by-case basis. Given the nature of the show, I give Boardwalk Empire a bit more leash. I expect them to kill off characters left and right. And I expect them to do so in the most salacious way possible regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

        If something like this happened out of the blue on a less violent show, I’d be more offended by it. I just expect these HBO shows to push my buttons. It’s why I watch them. But they probably could have been less cliche about it.

        I can definitely see how coming hot on the heels of Tara’s death shooting on True Blood, that would throw some gas on the fire.

      • and it wasn’t just Tara. Far worse was Lafayette being possessed and made to stab his own boyfriend through the heart, In the Same Episode.

        • You know, I am usually sensitive to that sort of thing. But it didn’t really phase me. I think it’s because True Blood is supposed to be a horror show. I expect horrible things to happen to everyone. If you are too sensitive, you run the risk of not having diversity on the show or making minorities “safe” characters. Which would in turn make them boring.

          Also, I never really considered Tara “gay”. I know she was involved in a relationship with a woman that season. But she kept her at arm’s length the entire time. It seemed to me like a coping mechanism after having been screwed over by so many men and raped mentally and physically by a male vampire. We had seen several seasons of Tara as a heterosexual character. She just never seemed all that committed to her new way of life.

          Gay or not, I was really bored of Tara. She had become pretty useless to the show since season 2 and probably should have died at the end of that storyline. That happens with a lot of characters on True Blood. Sam might as well have been on his own show for the last few seasons. By the end of that season (was it 4 or 5 I don’t recall) I was ready for any change to Tara’s stauts quo. And I think that ultimately went in the right direction.

          But I can’t argue that killing off two gay characters in one episode looks bad.

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