I haven’t watched this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, and I have no plans to do so. I decided last week that our time together was done. Here are five reasons I’m handcuffing this show to a pipe and leaving it stranded on a roof.
1. This show has become the television equivalent of click bait.
If I read one more interview with one of the show’s creators saying “This episode will shock you!” I might start eating their brains. It has become a source of open embarrassment for me to be watching the show and be asking myself, “oh, is that the part that was supposed to surprise and shock me this week?”
Yup. It’s click bait.
“Five crazy catch phrases Rick might utter this week!”
“Which character from the comics will appear?”
“The Governor is in this episode! Yes, we know he’s dead!”
“We’ve thought of another disgusting zombie to show you!”
“Someone is in love with Daryl and now he is sad because they might get eaten!”
The show might occasionally shock, but it never surprises.
The Walking Dead has two forces fighting against originality. One is the desire to largely follow the arc of the comic book. I understand that. But for those of us who read a decent number of the comics, this means rather than true surprises, we get “whoa that is slightly different from the comics” surprises. Frankly, a lot of the best things about the show come when it deviates from the comic.
Two, the underlying philosophy of the show is too certain of itself. A truly great show can involve itself in philosophical debate, with characters in deep disagreement and situations that argue for both sides before coming to a conclusion. The Walking Dead isn’t able to do this. The underlying theme of “Only the strong survive” and it’s accompanying “nice people won’t make it in this world” always win. If someone does something nice, you should expect that they are about to die. Probably in a gruesome way and most likely with a comment about how they deserved it because they couldn’t hack it here in this world.
It’s afraid to make any real changes.
Despite constant assurances from the creators that “NO ONE IS SAFE! No, I mean it, no one! Anyone could die! Seriously, I mean it!” there are three people who are never in real danger: Rick, Michonne and Daryl. Carol is probably on the short list here despite the fact that (spoiler) she’s already well-dead in the comics by this point in the story. Why? Because it’s a more compelling story with them alive? Nope. It’s because the fans love them too much.
If an episode ended with Rick dead, I would know we were in for something amazing. If they had spun off a second series with the Governor as the main character, rebuilding some crazy weird suburban paradise, with him struggling between being a good man and complete psycho, I would watch that show. If Carl took over and moved them to an island off the east coast where they started training horses so they could ride across the land destroying zombies, I would be so in.
Nope. We’re going to follow Rick around and keep holding him up as the “perfect man.” He’s going to go to the Alexandria Free Zone and then…. Sigh. Anyway. Spoilers. It’s sad when you can give spoilers for a couple seasons of a television show before they’re even filmed.
I’m so bored! Ugh.
In the last episode I watched (super minor spoilers) our gang ended up in a barn. Hiding in a barn. Zombies tried to break in the door and everyone had to push against the door to keep them from breaking through.
Because the zombies are becoming more intelligent and knew to come through the door?
No. Because the creators wanted some sort of symbolic moment of everyone coming together. Never mind that the zombies should have walked around the barn. Or that someone could have walked to another part of the barn and made noise and they should have moved toward it.
In the same episode Rick stated mournfully, “We are the walking dead.” REALLY, RICK? We didn’t figure that out yet? You might as well say, “We are pushing against this barn door to show our solidarity against the undead.”
The same show that lovingly shows people getting hacked up and eaten also needs to carefully disguise the action when they kill some stray dogs and eat them. Causing a crisis of faith for a priest, who seemed fine when they fought against some cannibals.
Whatever, Walking Dead.
Seriously, I’m bored. There are episodes you could skip and miss nothing. More and more of them lately. The show could be called The Drying Paint.
Z-Nation is 500% more fun.
Zombies should be fun. If not fun, then illuminating. If not illuminating, then frightening.
The Walking Dead has been all of those things at some point. It’s rarely any of them anymore.
Z-Nation has surprised me more than once. It’s nearly always fun. It’s occasionally illuminating about the human experience and yes, I’ve jumped out of my seat several times.
It’s also funny.
It has heroes. And while people are often “punished” for helping the good guys (who seem to be harbingers of bad luck), it’s all in the service of the greater good. The only thing to come out of the Walking Dead recently that has half the entertainment value is Bad Lip Reading.
All of which to say: I watch zombie shows by myself. My wife and kids don’t watch them. I have a limited amount of “watching by myself” time. There’s not room for The Walking Dead anymore.
Call me when Rick, Darryl or Michonne die. Let me know if something truly amazing happens on the show and I’ll give it another shot. Sure, I’ll try the spinoff, but for now it looks like I’m done with the Walking Dead.