Why I Hate On The Walking Dead So Much
Posted by Alan Edwards
I’ve been asked that question before by friends of mine. They know I love zombies and zombie movies. They know I write books about them. They watch the show and can’t understand why I have such a problem with it. I try to explain, and bits and pieces come out, and after I’ve been asked that question I lie awake at night pondering the answers to that very question. Why on Earth do I, a zombie lover, hate on the Walking Dead so much?
I think, for me, it all has to do with missed potential. This show could be great. It should be great. The zombies are awesome, the effects are great, they have, uh, actors, they have an incredibly popular comic as their source material; there is no reason why a story set in a zombie apocalypse that has good effects should make me so angry. But these writers have figured out a way. I’m going to try to make this somewhat organized, to keep my thoughts in order. Maybe I’ll learn something from all this, What Not To Do In a Zombie Story. In no particular order, here are some of the things that I think make the show so much worse than it should be.
The Zombies: The zombies look awesome. Unfortunately, over this season the zombies seem to be less important, an occasional threat. It’s like they’ve drained the show of any real fear of zombies, since the characters in the show don’t seem to be afraid of them anymore, at least since they got to the farm. Andrea gets accused of shirking important duties like laundry because she wants to watch for zombies, which gets dismissed with a sniff as “sunning herself”. Only when the characters venture out do they have to deal with the threat, and it’s so infrequent that it seems like the writers have a timetable in their head – “Been two episodes since a good zombie fight. Send the characters out for no compelling reason.” Instead, the show centers around the domestic issues with the group, which somehow just aren’t as compelling as “Hey, everyone, we could be overrun at any time by walking corpses. Let’s put up a wall or something.” The fact that everyone is sprawled out on the farm, not worried about anything, letting their kid run around unsupervised, helps dispel any notion that the zombies are truly a threat. Christ, anyone with a screwdriver is capable of finishing off a couple. Except Dale. Hahahahahaha, Dale.
Dale: Anyone who’s read my reviews know that I hated Dale. He was talked up to be the “conscience” of the group, but his actions never really lived up to that billing. He was manipulative. He lied to further his own beliefs about what was the Right Thing To Do, like pretending that the RV was broken down to ensure that the group kept fruitlessly searching for what turned out to be a dead girl or taking away the group’s guns and planning on hiding them so he could get his way. Instead of just talking people into doing the right thing, he had to misdirect and lie. Andrea wanted to kill herself, but when Dale forced her to essentially kill him to do it, she backed down, not wanting to be responsible for the guy’s death. When he got his chance to convince others about what was Right with the kid from the rival gang, he couldn’t, because he had no arguments. Saying something is Wrong doesn’t cut it, nor does invoking Civilization when none exists anymore. He was nosy, ferreting out information and then turning around and dispensing it as he willed, despite being asked not to. He was written as an awful human being that we are still somehow supposed to be attached to and consider a Good Guy. Based on what? What did Dale ever do that was an asset to the group. He never even put the Psychic Powers he obviously has, based on his ability to deduce that Shane killed Otis on the basis of absolutely zero evidence whatsoever, to any use at all.
Carl: The poor kid. He adds nothing to any scene. He’s a MacGuffin to bring the family to the farm. The writers clearly have no idea what to do with him, except make him as annoying as humanly possible. The best episodes with Carl in them were when he was in a coma. The kid is uniformly awful. He does have a magic hat, as Mirwyn posted in a comment to the DaleFace episode, one that brings him ridiculous luck because otherwise his dumb-shit antics would have gotten him killed. Further evidence that it is magical: like any magic item, it resizes itself to fit its wearer. Or Carl has had some kind of weird head growth thing happen to him.
Lori: Holy fuck, where do I start? She’s a shitty mother, based on the fact that she takes no responsibility for her only child’s whereabouts in the middle of a fucking zombie apocalypse, whether they are on an isolated farm or a road filled with abandoned cars and zombies. She is an insult to anyone with any kind of feminist inclination whatsoever by indicating that all the ladyfolk should be doing is laundry, cooking, and lying on their backs for the menfolk. She’s a plotter and instigator, the kind of person to convince someone to stay with the group in order to ensure her and her unborn child’s continued safety, and then whisper to her husband that the person she convinced to remain is trying to take over Rick’s place in protecting her, and that Rick needs to deal with him. She is, without question, the worst human being in the world. I am sure I don’t need to tell you that, if you’ve watched any of the show. Seeing her face makes both me and Baby Jesus cry.
Rick: Rick was an awesome character, driven by one thing: finding his wife and son. We felt his pain as he struggled through a zombie-ravaged town, meeting other survivors with their own heart-wrenching tales. We rooted for him as he tried to escape Atlanta, felt glad when he met other survivors, and thought that maybe he and the blonde girl Andrea would make a decent couple as he struggled with the idea of finding his wife but finding comfort in the arms of another. But then we find that the blonde’s group includes his wife, and that’s when Rick begins to unravel. He is crowned Leader for some reason, even though he is clearly ill-fitted for the role. He worries too much, struggles to make decisions, and insists on doing everything himself – and then when he can’t carry through with what he thinks is best, he changes his mind. A friend of mine had a discussion with me and my wife, and he argued that Rick is a good leader because he insists on doing everything himself. In this way, he proves that he isn’t an aloof armchair general, making decisions that puts others in harm’s way. While I understand what he means, I feel like the leader of a group can’t leave the group every time something needs to be done, because then you have a group with no leader while he’s gone, and one without a leader if something should happen to him. Also, insisting on doing everything yourself sends a clear message: I can’t trust any of you to accomplish what I want done. That doesn’t help a group. It creates a group that wonders why their “leader” isn’t just off on his own. It creates a group that will decide to follow someone else. Except on The Walking Dead. Rick has been reduced to a hen-pecked, haunted-eyed Hamlet, unable to make decisions and unable to back up the few decisions he does make. He looks ready to snap, brittle, and is still supposed to be the “hero”. I don’t get what the writers want us to think about him.
T-Dog: I’ll use him as the poster boy for the underutilized characters on the show. Why is he here? They give him nothing to do but lurk in background shots. They’ve made no effort to make him interesting or compelling. Again: then why is he on the show? Same with some of the people who suddenly appear and disappear from the farm. For one episode there’s a 17-year-old guy, then he’s never seen again. Why have these people if you have no use for them? Pare them down and work with those you’ve got, then. I don’t get it.
I imagine I could keep going forever with this, but the problems above are the main problems I have with the show. Maybe, someday, someone will sit down and figure out what to do with this. Like I said in my last review, the show seems to be going the Heroes route: a strong start, then the realization that they had no fucking idea what to do after it became a hit. Heroes struggled with what it wanted to be and petered out into a nothing show until it slunk away, leaving us to wonder just why we liked it in the first place.The Walking Deadis shaping up to be the next hit series that does it, because the show just seems completely directionless. What is trying to say to us, show us, tell us? I don’t think they know what they want to say, either. They gone away from the source material but retain some of its trappings, for no particular reason I can fathom. It’s become a zombie version of the comic series, wearing its form but lurching around aimlessly, grabbing onto whatever storyline or bit that looks interesting, sucking the life out of it, and moving on to the next thing. Maybe that’s their intention. Maybe it’s an avant-garde expression, a TV show about zombies acting like a zombie itself.
Yeah. Somehow I don’t think so. Maybe it’s a hit, being run by suits, and now just sucks ass.