Me Too? Talking Dead staffers quit over Hardwick's return

A couple of weeks ago it looked as if AMC/NBC game show host and Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick was out of the woods in terms of the #MeToo accusations hurled at him by his ex-girlfriend, Chloe Dykstra. Having been returned to all of his normal television duties and even having a few extra jobs tacked on, he seemed to have been vindicated, prompting me to ask if he was now the official face of those wrongly accused in the Me Too moment.

But as it turns out, not everyone was delighted about Hardwick’s rapid return from the career graveyard. The Huffington Post reported this week that members of the staff on his AMC show The Talking Dead have resigned in protest of his renewal and will not be coming back for the next season.

The staff of the AMC “Walking Dead” wrap-up show, “Talking Dead,” will be a little smaller when it airs Sunday night.

The Wrap is reporting that several staffers, including one executive producer, have left the show because of AMC’s decision to allow host Chris Hardwick back on the network.

AMC has not yet commented about the departures.

The initial headlines I saw regarding this story were actually underselling the report a bit for some reason. According to the referenced article in The Wrap, these weren’t just a couple of low-level staffers who made coffee. One of the women departing the show was his female executive producer. The article doesn’t name her, but the show only has a couple of executive producers and the only woman listed in those ranks is Jen Patton, who has a lengthy list of credits and award nominations. I think we can assume this is someone who knows Hardwick pretty well. She was not only his EP for four years of Talking Dead but also the EP on some of his other shows, including Talking With Chris Hardwick, Talking Preacher and Talking Saul. She seems to have been joined at the hip with Hardwick ever since he broke out of standup comedy and the Nerdist web presence and really began making a career for himself on television.

In addition to her, a “handful” of other women walked, though a definite number isn’t specified.

Yet again we see the perils of holding trials in the Court of Public Opinion rather than an actual court of law. Has Hardwick been vindicated of the charges put forward by his crazy ex-girlfriend or not? It’s a tough case to consider under the best of circumstances since the only time Dykstra has weighed in was when she wrote a blog post where she didn’t even mention Hardwick by name (though it was obviously him being referenced) and she hasn’t made any comments in public since then. One might imagine that no matter how badly she felt, the landscape has changed enough that she wouldn’t be afraid to speak up now and make her case.

But the investigation by AMC that supposedly cleared Hardwick’s good name obviously isn’t carrying any weight with at least some women. It’s understandable to a degree if there are activists out there with zero direct knowledge of the situation who aren’t ready to welcome Chris Hardwick back. There’s definitely been a “believe the women” mantra taking hold over the course of this movement. But if someone who has worked as closely with him as his own executive producer is incensed enough to give up her job in protest, perhaps there was more to this story than we learned initially.