Z Nation and “A Chick Thing”

17 Oct

While I was counting down the hours before the return of The Walking Dead, I took the opportunity to write down some thoughts about Z Nation. Sure, it’s no Walking Dead, but it does have its moments.


Last weekend, my sister visited, and, among other activities, she took a break from her TV-less lifestyle. After I got to show her the wonderful “Manhattan,” she found that SyFy was starting a four-episode marathon of “Z Nation.”

I had previously caught the last 20 minutes of that show’s premiere, been annoyed by a stupid decision to needlessly pursue a zombie into a clutter-filled deathtrap, and decided just to wait a few weeks for TWD. But my sister wanted to try Z Nation, so we watched for a couple of episodes, and I kept it on after she went to bed.

Z Nation

Neither the production values nor the script matches up to TWD, but if you don’t take it too seriously, it’s quite watchable. I can’t blame it for having characters who make stupid decisions, certainly not on the basis of comparing it with TWD. Elements that I like include the quiet sniper youth; the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a real natural leader, although somebody was elected by acclaim; the age mix and approximate gender balance and racial diversity; and the occasional contacts with the hacker/eyes in the sky guy, which are actually rarely too helpful.

One moment that lingers in my mind a week later is from the third episode, “Philly Feast.” To summarize without being too spoilery:  Cassandra used to belong to a violent sort of cult-family that preyed on other zombie apocalypse survivors (she didn’t get a vote on this). She escaped and joined our little group; in “Philly Feast,” the family tries to get her back, and much mayhem ensues. After the dust clears, the guys in the group want to throw her out for lying about her past, and she cries “you just don’t understand” while one woman, who has briefly been in a similar situation, hugs her; the third woman hovers nearby.

Finally, a guy asks whether this is some kind of “a chick thing” in a tone of voice that hovers between frustration and possible sudden revelation.  The three women hesitate for a beat, and then all together answer “Yes!”

I laughed. It was so obvious that in that moment, they were all thinking that “chick thing” was sexist, and the real answer was much more complicated — for reasons I don’t want to spoil — but saying yes would end the argument (I may have been projecting, but I was not at all doubtful about my interpretation of their acting).  And it did indeed ended the argument; they all moved on together.

I flashed to the scene in “Alien: Resurrection” when Ripley shoots up the cloning lab. Johner protests about the waste of ammunition and then says, “Must be a chick thing.” He shrugs and lets her continue her actions.

However, regardless of these two scripted scenes, I’m having trouble thinking of any real-life examples of when, faced with some “inexplicable” female scruple or behavior, with an important issue at hand, guys just conceded that something was “a chick thing,” so let them have their way, and moved on.

It’s far more common in a lot of real-life venues for the “chick thing” label to lead to more aggressive arguments and attacks — the female viewpoint is not only inexplicable, but obviously inferior and wrong and distracting; it must be shut down.

I realize that it’s asking far too much of some people to want them to actually try to understand other people’s point of view, let alone empathize with them. But I’ve indulged in a brief little fantasy in which saying something was “a chick thing” was a magic phrase that actually got people in all walks of life to realize that although you may not understand a certain point of view, argument won’t necessarily make the other person adopt yours, and sometimes the best thing to do is to drop the argument or maybe even to concede.

(Hey, gamergaters! Women and their apologists are always going to object to distortion, lies, harassment, threats, and doxxing! It’s “a chick thing” so STOP arguing and STOP doing those things! MOVE ON! Sigh.)

Well, until that dream comes true in real life, let’s hear it for even semi-positive examples in fantasy. Despite the voiced condescension of “a chick thing” as seen on these two screen examples, I can’t help enjoying the portrayal of it as “here’s an immovable object, so I guess I’d better stop trying to be an unstoppable force.”

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