By all means Fox's Sleepy Hollow should not work. It's a nutty show about a Washington Irving character and the apocalypse. But somehow it does. And while it doesn't need you to start watching—it has steady ratings and a second season has already been ordered—you should you. Here's why.
The cast is filled with truly talented actors
Yes, the actors on Sleepy Hollow are very pretty, but they're also really good. Nicole Beharie, who plays Lt. Abbie Mills, is a Juilliard grad who broke out two years ago in Steve McQueen's art-house drama Shame. The show's Ichabod, Tom Mison, cut his teeth doing Shakespeare in the West End. On the light side of things, Orlando Jones, who plays the police captain, is a MADtv vet, though he knows how to play it straight. Of course, credentials alone can't make a good show, but the cast's chemistry and easy rapport make for great viewing. Take last night's episode: the show opened with a humorous bit in which Abbie teaches Ichabod to appreciate baseball (and yelling at umpires) and closed with a touching moment in which Abbie admits she can't lose Ichabod, who has come to believe that he has to sacrifice himself to save the world. The sentimentality of the ending plays well because Beharie and Mison have already sold on their characters' connection. The show would not work if it didn't have the actors willing to sell it, and these guys are completely on board.
Abbie Mills is awesome
While Ichabod is the character that's easy to fall in love with—have you seen Tom Mison?—Abbie grounds the show by defying stereotypes. Beharie has created a character that is tormented without being weak, and fierce without being unfeeling. As Nichole Perkins wrote at BuzzFeed, Abbie therefore defies the stereotype of the "Strong Black Woman:"
In a recent episode, her strength and silence — hallmarks of the SBW — bring a creature of death into her life. She, quite literally, must express her emotions and memories, or die. In order to save herself and her loved ones, Abbie forgoes the stoicism we’ve grown accustomed to. She opens up, and in the process, Abbie sheds the burden of being a Strong Black Woman by expressing her emotional turmoil, freeing herself to fulfill her prophetic destiny.
In addition to breaking free of stereotypes, Beharie holds down the show. If it was all Ichabod, there would be no one to ground the show.