FOX’s new smash-hit ‘Sleepy Hollow’ revolves around one Ichabod Crane, a dashing, principled gent from the Revolutionary War who has mysteriously awoken in the year 2013. Crane’s mission is to combat the headless horseman — who happens to be, we learn, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — and some other unsavory types. The result is a spooky, delightful show and the record-high ratings prove America’s appetite for this kind of entertainment is nearly endless.
But it’s the nuances of Ichabod’s character, and the storyline itself, that are particularly interesting: you see, Ichabod is quite the Tea Partier.
First, there is his constant talk of liberty. In the first episode, while explaining why he, a Brit, defected to serve under General George Washington, he matter-of-factly notes “the rule of tyranny betrayed the weight of his conscience,” while wearing his revolutionary blue coat and looking like one of the eager, costumed Tea Partiers milling about at a conservative confab.
This liberty-minded view continues in the second episode, which premiered Monday, with a line most often heard from Second Amendment supporters. Ichabod protests, “As a free man, any law that takes away my God-given right serves neither God nor its own design.” God-given rights? Laws infringing on those rights? Ichabod could give the opening speech at an NRA convention.
Then there is the subject of taxes. During perhaps one of the most humorous – but oddly poignant – moments, Crane glances at the receipt of a doughnut purchase: “What’s insane is a ten percent levy on baked goods. You do realize the Revolutionary war began on less than two percent. How is the public not flocking to the streets in outrage?!”
Finally, the entire storyline revolves around the Book of Revelation. (This is new to the show’s adaptation as the original tale, published in 1820, does not connect Sleepy Hollow’s ‘headless horseman’ to the Bible’s horsemen, nor does the popular 1999 film adaptation starring Johnny Depp.) As gritty, scary, and downright cool as the Book of Revelation is, it is curious how few films or entertainment plot lines have used it as a source. A little ‘too Christian,’ perhaps – too ‘Bible-based.’ But in Sleepy Hollow, we have the Four Horsemen idea center stage, prompting the viewer to thumb through that Bible on the shelf with curiosity and awe.
To be sure, Sleepy Hollow is in no way a political show, nor will it turn into one, but it is nevertheless worth considering how overarching conservative themes of, for instance, liberty, and opposing government overreach manage to somehow find their way into the entertainment the American public most enjoys.