March 8, 2013

What I Love About The Walking Dead

I came into the whole Walking Dead thing a little late, jumping in about the beginning of the current season. I kept hearing about how The Walking Dead was an engaging, different kind of zombie show, but I have to admit I was skeptical after having seen my fair share of corny, gratuitously gory zombie movies and television shows. I had grown tired of the masses of the undead vacantly declaring their undying (pun intended) love for the grey matter that inhabits the skulls of the living.

But I gave The Walking Dead a try. From episode one of the first season I could tell the show was something different. Where other zombie stories rely on the monsters to inject much of the horror elements, the writers of The Walking Dead have rely on the human characters and their emotional responses to the changing landscape they find themselves in. Seeing how families, friends and individuals react to one another when they are relentlessly pursued by zombies in a place that is seemingly overwhelmed and lawless is fascinating.

The show constantly has me questioning what I would do if I woke up from a coma and found the world had been turned completely upside down. Having been in some desperate situations myself I know the answer is that I don't know, because you never know how you'll react until you are in the moment. I've seen big tough guys cower and cry like babies, normally calm people become blithering idiots and wallflowers rise up to action.

I won't lie: The Walking Dead can be pretty intense. Unlike some shows, there is an air of danger and tension in each episode (though some are more that way than others). One of the biggest things that makes such a feeling of tension possible: any character could genuinely die at any time. I don't want to spoil anything for people who haven't watched the show, but let me tell you death is a common thing in the post-apocalyptic world. In a way this element is refreshing, since knowing that certain characters won't die no matter how bad of situations they find themselves in kills much of the tension in other stories.

That being said, I do have favorite characters in the show (who are fortunately still alive). By far my most favorite is Daryl, the crossbow-wielding brother of perhaps the biggest jerk in the whole series. At first he didn't seem like a very complex character, but over time Daryl has proven to be quite complex and human in a way others are not. Personally, I think the whole group could learn a thing or two from Daryl about surviving in the cruel new world.

Sound off! Do you watch the show? Why or why not? Any favorite characters, moments or other opinions? I would love to hear them!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I haven't kept up with it but every time I do watch, one of my favorite characters dies.

Steven said...

Alex, if you watched more regularly that wouldn't happen :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I wrote a whole blog post about Daryl and how the writers set us up to have very low expectations of him (thanks to Merle), and then gradually surprised us.

And then I tried to copy that trick in my WIP.

Steven said...

Dianne, I missed that post - do you have the link handy? I admit I misjudged Daryl in the beginning of the series. We often fall into the trap that brothers will behave the same, even though experience teaches us that often is not the case.

Charmaine Clancy said...

The Walking Dead has produced many television phenomenons - including our attitudes to certain characters. Daryl is by far the most popular character and anyone that wasn't on team Daryl was won over as soon as he nursed the baby and declared her name would be 'Lil' Asskicker'.
The other is possibly the most unlikeable character, Merl. Simply because he is Daryl's brother, viewers are warming to him and don't want him killed off (there are whole polls on who should and shouldn't die - Carol rates pretty high as one who should go).
The only thing that doesn't sit right with me is this attitude of staying in little groups and not accepting new people. I would think grouping would be the instinctive way to go because you have stronger defences, can build more protective housing, more labour to produce food resources, and of course the human natural desire to belong.
Yep the show gets me thinking more than it should.

PS - glad you like it, you just made my best friend list.

Steven said...

Charmaine, glad I'm not alone in my Walking Dead obsession! I have liked Daryl for some time now, but I keep hoping Rick would pull his head out and get it together, because composed I think he would be the leader the group needs and deserves. As far as the groups thing, I think everyone wants more help but at the same time the trust thing is so tenuous -- there are no contracts, police, etc to help control for if someone you take in kills everyone in their sleep, etc. The show is such an interesting study in sociology, I think that is one of the most fascinating parts of it.

Scarlett said...

I am not a zombie lover.
Gore is not my thing.
Watching as someone is disemboweled turns my stomach. I have no idea what really pushed me to watch that first episode of Season 1.

But as you said, Steven, there is something compelling about these characters, and the petri dish they are living in for all to gasp, cringe and cry over has all our thinking caps tightened down!

How better to show human nature in action and the struggle to survive in the most extreme of circumstances. This show speaks to our worst nightmares and our hope that we would stand the test, if we were to be put in the same position as many of these characters.

Great topic. So glad I stopped in when I did or I might have missed casting my own vote. God knows what might happen then!

Carry on, Darryl! Carry on!

Steven said...

Scarlett, I'm not really into the whole gore thing either, not that it disturbs me quite as much but just that I don't crave it like some people. I'm still not sure what drove me to watch the first episode, but I was completely hooked by the end.