This post will contain spoilers for the entire first season of Hemlock Grove, read at your own discretion. Due to my abject refusal to research anything, there may also be spoilers for season 2, but those will be unintentional. Misogyny and Rape-as-plot-device are also discussed in minor detail.
TL;DR: It’s right there in the title.
Guys, guys, I did the thing. I said I wasn’t going to hate watch any more Hemlock Grove and then I hate watched the entire first fucking season because someone on the internet promised!!! that if I hated the first season I would like the second one because there was a changing of the guard. I imagine they are at least a little bit right because season one is SO BAD YOU GUYS it is SO BAD.
You know what I think the writers did? I think they assigned everyone homework and said “Google commonly used tropes and symbolism!” and then they wrote their findings on a piece of paper and drew them from a hat mad-libs style to create their scripts.
There’s a scene where the Lesser Skarsgard** washes Shelley the resurrected monster’s feet, everyone. BECAUSE HE HAS A MESSIAH COMPLEX DO YOU GET IT????*
In the discussion where I was told I should stick it out, other people came forward and complained about the shows misogyny. Having only seen two episodes I was like “lol ladies die but misogyny??” SPOILER ALERT: When someone on the internet tells you something is misogynistic THEY ARE PROBABLY RIGHT AND YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THEM.
Out of it’s large cast of interchangeable brunette ladies (and Shelley), four blondes, and a black lady (surprisingly, a fleshed-out character with her own motivation and NOT a token!), ALL BUT TWO are dead/possibly dead at then end of season 1. That is all but TWO of the women who featured with any prominence, FRIDGED FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MALE CHARACTERS* (a woman in a minor roll is left by her husband and a maid survives.) As for male character deaths? Well, I assume Casper the cat was a he (sacrificed for some ~*~*~spoopy gypsy magicks!~*~*~ you guys, because gypsies do sppppooooopy magicks!*).
Rape is used as a consequent-less plot device* to develop the same male character twice (clarification: he is the rapist). He is able to use his ~*~*~spooooopy upir mind control powers~*~*~ to totally get away with it AND wipe the memories of his victims so they don’t remember it even happened! How convenient!
*Approaches podium* I, Irreverent on the Internet, would like to nominate Roman Godrey for the Woobie of the Year award. And if you look at that TV Tropes page, it mentions that Woobification is sometimes non-canonical and created by the fans, but the writers in this case seem to be trying to create that kind of character intentionally. He rapes a girl because he feels sad about himself! He’s not really bad, he’s nice to his sister! He apologizes for being a shit stain… but not to either of his two victims (yeah, yeah he was mind controlled into the one. What the fuck seriously).
The overarching theme of the episode is that our rich half-demon misunderstood rapist and our magical wrong side of the tracks werewolf gypsy are trying to hunt down a vargulf (vargwulf? wargulf?) that’s been eating ladies from the vagina up (NOT KIDDING*.). It turns out that the evil werewolf is a obnoxious “I need to have every life experience ever possible to be a novelist” girl who spread the rumors that Peter was a werewolf. That everyone in podunk Pennsylvania believed. Because… they have so many werewolves and a rich history of being irrational in PA? I dunno, I think Hemlock Grove the town is supposed to be in the Pittsburg area so maybe it is like that out there. I’m only familiar with the Eastern half of the state. ANYWHO this girl goes through the motions to become a werewolf so she can EAT GIRLS WHO ARE HAVING SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS BECAUSE SHE IS A REPRESSED VIRGIN WHO IS MAD PETER LIKES SOMEONE ELSE*. I CONTINUE TO NOT BE KIDDING.
In my original post I discussed my fears over how they would use Shelley’s character. I ultimately actually liked Shelley. She was intelligent, complex, but insecure in a realistic way. However, her purpose in the show was to serve as a grounding point for Roman’s humanity and ultimately as the scapegoat for sweet, normal virgin girl’s killings*. Shelley is MIA at the end of the finale, presumed alive but having sustained gunshot wounds, possibly dead.
Letha, the no-longer virginal* Aryan poster child, dies in childbirth* delivering her incest (depending on your country’s views on cousins) baby.
Guys, this show hates women in a way that is so obvious you can’t even use prancy avoidance logic to deny it (Like you can with say… Supernatural)
I feel a little bad referring to Bill as the Lesser Skarsgard up there, because the kid is a good actor in his own right, but he’s just not as attractive to me as his old brother, and his show has been consistently bad from the get-go**, whereas True Blood just slid down a hill to suckitude. Hemlock Grove seems to be deriving a lot of stuff from dear old TB, from the apropos-of-nothing music in the end credits, to dressing their Skarsgard in black tank tops, to having their demon creatures like blood and have fangs.
Manbeast HATED watching this show with me. My ability to call out all their tropey-tropes and symbolism before they were on screen, my insistence that it’s the worst show ever (I’ve watched 100 episodes of Glee, I think I know what I’m talking about)… just…
The first season of Hemlock Grove was AWFUL and if that stranger on the internet was not right about the second season being watchable I WILL RIOT.
**barring any season 2 adjustments