I know my opinion isn’t exactly popular. The Walking Dead’s gargantuan ratings already prove it’s an extremely popular show. But please don’t hate on me. Hear me out and let me know what you all think in the comments, I’d love to have an interesting debate with people who think differently.
I remember when I first heard about The Walking Dead. “A serious drama? With zombies?!” Perfection. I’ve always loved zombies. World War Z is, in my opinion, the very best piece of zombie fiction ever made, even above Romero’s films and the hilarious Shaun of the Dead. An adaptation of the book is coming out this summer and we’ll see how it turns out. So I’m a huge zombie fan. I’ve watched every episode of The Walking Dead and no one else wants it to be a fantastic show more than me.
And I recognize it has had some fantastic episodes. The first half of this third season was actually phenomenal. Showrunner Glen Mazzara produced some of the finest hours of televisions of last year. He made bold choices, killed major characters in episodes that weren’t premiers or finales and revitalized the show after a slightly boring season that spent a lot of time in a farm and in the search for Sophia.
But then, in December, it was announced Mazzara would step down as showrunner at the end of this season. The show came back and it wasn’t the same. The boring on-the-nose moral debates came back and Rick went from stating “This isn’t a democracy” to the bland character The Walking Dead writers make him be some times. The Governor started out as an interesting character that would do everything to defend his community. And then he turned into a mustache twirling villain motivated by revenge? He was just too bad to be believable, even in a world of zombies.
The show has great actors, great directing and great moments. Remember the very first scene of the third season? When Carl finds a can of dog food and is about to eat it and Rick knocks it out of his hands? That was the best scene in the whole series. Without a single word, the show made a point about its central theme: Humanity.
And that’s the thing. That scene was so smart. The first thing you learn about screenwriting is “show, don’t tell.” Think of the montage at the beginning of Up or the Incinerator scene in Toy Story 3. Not a word is said and these are arguably the best scenes Pixar has ever made. But The Walking Dead, for the most part, not only runs away from intelligent visual storytelling but focuses on lengthy moral debates presented to us through dialogue instead of action. That’s my major criticism of The Walking Dead.
Other things I dislike are that the show seems to be terrified of its characters being unlikeable. This makes sense, but the show instead chooses to make its characters justify everything they do with dialogue and more dialogue. If you compare it to Game of Thrones, where characters also do terrible things but don’t justify themselves, the HBO series is the better show. If we know the motivation behind the actions of the characters, we’ll generally like them even if they do terrible stuff. Luke kills millions when he destroys the Death Star. Walter White does the most terrible stuff in Breaking Bad and we still, somehow, don’t hate him. But The Walking Dead is so scared of its characters being unlikeable that it makes them boring. They are people in a post-apocalyptic world. They NEED to survive. That’s why Carl is the only interesting character right now. He does what’s necessary to survive and protect his people. I understand that the whole point is to keep their humanity. But show that through action and story, not boring monologues.
And lastly, the show has so many irritating characters. It’s okay if you hate characters. Who doesn’t HATE Dolores Umbridge or Joffrey Lannister? It’s perfectly okay to passionately hate a character for his or her actions. But I think we all hated Andrea, not because of her actions but because of her complete inability to be useful. In the season finale, we got the great concept of using Milton as a time bomb of sorts. But then it was infuriating to see Andrea stop her attempts to escape to talk to Milton.
So those are my points. What do you guys think? I hope next season is great and they stop changing show runners every seven episodes. Stability will make the show better for sure.