Jared Padalecki in The CW's Walker.

Walker’s Jared Padalecki Talks MAGA and Toxic Masculinity

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Jared Padalecki is here to make The CW’s Walker his own and he doesn’t care who knows it. In a recent interview with Variety, Padalecki talked about how this version of Walker, Texas Ranger wouldn’t be partaking in toxic masculine tropes, kicking the marginalized down instead of hearing them out first, or working in a world of black and white. Walker will be working in areas of grey, where questions need to be asked and things need to be picked apart, before coming up with a solid answer.

As Padalecki tells it, this isn’t a story about a roundhouse-kicking man who knocks down people of color left and right while perpetuating toxic masculine tropes. This is a story about a man trying to do what’s right by himself, his family, and of those he helps every single day. So, don’t expect him to be like Chuck Norris’ version from the original series. And oh what a relief that is for us—maybe not so much for MAGA, gun-toting Republicans who probably hoped to see a Walker that was tough on immigration and PoC in general, but a relief for us as viewers who are always looking for more diversity, inclusivity, and growth in the content consumed.

It’s also a relief since reports have come out that someone who looks like Norris was spotted at the Capitol during the domestic terrorist attack. It could be him, if I’m being honest. The former ranger also hasn’t hidden his thoroughly conservative opinions about the government or rights for LGBTQ people. And Padalecki wants people to know that there is no way that the audience will be able to pinpoint whether Walker is a Republican or Democrat. He’s just a Texan saying that he needs to hear the whole story before making a decision, while supporting his local community in any way he can.

In the interview, he shared, “We don’t want the audience to ever know whether Walker is quote conservative or quote liberal, or quote Republican or quote Democrat. This version of ‘Walker,’ we play with the gray area: This is not a show about a martial artist kicking minorities in the face; this is a show about a legit Texan saying, ‘Hey, I need to hear the whole story before I make a decision.”

My worries for the show practically became nonexistent when Padalecki talked about what inspired him to take on this passion project. The idea for a new and revitalized Walker came when he was still working on Supernatural. He was in his trailer reading an op-ed by a law enforcement official who chose to support migrant children and their parents instead of separating them like he was duty-bound to do. He told Variety, “I thought, ‘What an interesting person who struggles with what they are bound to do by duty and what they think they should do by their own moral compass.”

This idea, this thought, that this inspired Padalecki means that I’m going to see a man who fights “through somebody’s head and heart” before his fists and feet. That distinction is important and proves that love, time, and patience was put into writing a show that isn’t stuck in the past, but looking towards the future. And while some might be mad that this is the direction that Walker will be going down, I’m excited. It’s 2021, and the only way to move forward is to come together as a community, face our own antiquated notions on what it means to be a man, and allow ourselves to grow without forgetting where we came from.

And that’s a show I can get behind.

(image: The CW)

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Lyra Hale
Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.