Lori Walking Dead
All right, class, who can tell me which Walking Dead character has been the most disliked by the vast majority of the viewing audience? You there, in the back — what’s that? Andrea? Close, but the answer I’m looking for is Lori. Yes, Lori Grimes was definitely the worst, because at least Andrea didn’t start to completely suck until season 3. Lori was pretty much a giant waste of food since episode one.

I never blamed actress Sarah Wayne Callies for the fact that I wanted to punch Lori in the face every time she appeared onscreen, but Callies recently spoke out about the way her character was perceived on The Walking Dead and I’m not sure how I feel about her point of view. On the one hand, I can see why she chooses to stay positive about all the Lori hate … but on the other hand, if Lori wasn’t intended to be a hateful character (ie, she wasn’t a villain), is the fan backlash really a success?

(Walking Dead season 3 spoilers ahead!)

In a recent interview Callies said that Lori’s horrific death in season 3 helped solidify the character she was playing all along:

When they told me – I mean I’d always known Lori was going to go, because she goes in the comics – but when they told me it was her time, I just said, “Let’s make it a moment of redemption and make it a moment between her and her son and let’s build it around that.” And I think they did a beautiful job of articulating a character who’s been such a focus for all kinds of controversy and all kinds of issues about sexuality and morality and women and femininity and everything, to make that moment of incontrovertible love and sacrifice for her family. For all the other things that we’ve speculated about that she may, or may not be, she leaves in the way I always knew her – as a woman who would do anything to keep her family safe.

Okay. Lori did have a serious tearjerker of a speech right before she died (” It’s so easy to do the wrong thing in this world. So, if it feels wrong don’t do it, alright? If it feels easy don’t do it, don’t let this world spoil you. You’re so good, my sweet boy. Best thing I ever did, I love you, I love you. My sweet, sweet boy I love you. Goodnight love”), and I would have felt sad for anyone who died the way she did, even the Governor. But one incredibly dramatic scene can’t make up for three seasons of being wholly unlikeable and making terrible decisions and constantly losing Carl and telling Rick to kill Shane then freaking out when he actually did and telling Andrea that women should be in the house doing laundry and managing to get in a car crash in an apocalyptic world with no other vehicles.

In fact, shortly after season 3 wrapped, Callies admitted Lori never had a chance to truly redeem herself:

There were some very specific things that mattered to me to find with Lori in the third season. And redemption was a big part of that – a sense of redemption in her marriage and a sense of redemption with Carl. And while I don’t think either of those were ever achieved completely – because that would tie things up in a package that’s far too neat for our show, and I don’t think honest in life – I think we took steps down that path in a way that not only dramaturgically served the show, but in a way that I’m grateful to, personally, because I have such a profound affection for Lori.

Props for making me look up “dramaturgically” in the dictionary, Callies. But yeah, I’d say her original statement was more honest than the way she’s spinning it now.

She now says that she thinks all the Lori hate is a good thing:

Actually, I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s really honest. I come from theater…there’s something about having a relationship with your audience that feels very honest as an actor. I don’t need people to like me. I want people to engage with the stories I’m telling and feel passionate about them. So if they’re feeling passionate about them one way or another, I feel like I’m doing my job.

See, I can’t buy what she’s selling because I don’t think Lori was ever intended to be as disliked as she was. Season 2 showrunner Glenn Mazzarra sounded slightly defensive when asked if Lori was going to be “less annoying” in season 3 (spoiler alert: she was not):

I think she is realistic in a lot of ways and she’s certainly a character that people are talking about. So I don’t find her irritating. I think it’s interesting that people are so focused on her and I think the work ahead of that is to see where the – in Season 3, we really have to look at the Rick, Lori relationship and what it means that, you know, she put Rick and Shane in motion to try to kill each other. So that’s an interesting place to start and we’ll certainly examine that character.

I think Lori Grimes was a poorly written character, plain and simple. As an actor, I can imagine it feels like you did a good job when you play a villain and people react strongly to the person you portray, but in this case, no one loved to hate Lori. Instead, we couldn’t wait until she was killed off, because we were so sick of her. She wasn’t deliciously evil or scary or disturbing, she was just … lame.