Editor’s note: The following is in response to this Hypable opinion piece by one of our writers.
I’d like to start out by saying that I am not a reader of Kirkman’s comic books, but I am an avid (and somewhat obsessive) fan of his TV show. The Walking Dead is an amazing show, and I like to believe that what makes the show addicting is that the characters are deep and three-dimensional. So why is it that viewers can accept all of Rick’s irrational flaws and mental instability, yet we cannot possibly understand Andrea’s current emotional state? We can blame Rick’s mental fall on Lori’s death, but the truth is that his collapse was a long time coming.
When our series began, Rick emerged as the ideal male figure; a strong protagonist with realistic emotional flaws that he was able to express while maintaining his image as the steadfast and strong leader. His downward spiral began as soon as he awoke in his hospital bed in the first episode. Rick struggled and survived and led the group as best he could and we viewers all accepted his choices (whether or not we agreed with them). Over the past few episodes we have seen Rick fall even deeper into insanity and depression. Even before Lori’s death, the “Rick-tatorship” had taken form.
Rick’s male character reacts to the zombie apocalypse and insane pressure by functioning in an overdrive of masculinity and power. He must take control in order to remain functioning. Is Andrea not the same? Her character flaws make her realistic. Do we want a perfect character?
Andrea’s spiral mirrors that of Rick’s. After an insane loss (that of her sister), she tried to control her fate and was thwarted by Dale in the CDC. She chose to take control and try to prove that she and the other women could do more than laundry and household chores, they could fight and hunt. She is not disillusioned by their makeshift home at the barn. When the walkers overrun Hershel’s and Andrea is separated from the group, she fights and fends for herself until exhaustion and lack of ammunition seems to seal her fate.
Michonne’s entrance provides Andrea with safety, comfort, friendship, and belonging, all things that women tend to desire in times of stress. When Andrea falls ill and is eventually brought to Woodbury, she sees all of the comforts that she has so missed, along with protection and a sense of purpose. Is it so wrong for her to want these things? Does is make her a weak character?
We could compare how Andrea views Woodbury to the way Lori saw Hershel’s farm, as a safe haven. But Andrea is not Lori. Andrea has not simply played the typical television female. She is not content washing dishes or being ignored. She still wants to fight and guard the border, and she is still our once beloved Andrea. She has simply lost her way, much like Rick. In order to function in this situation (nearly dying and losing her best friend), Andrea has been ignoring her instincts in the same way Rick has been ignoring his rationality and emotions.
Although Rick turned off his emotional switch (how often has he interacted with his newborn child? How often has he ignored the group’s interests in favor of violent zombie-slaying outbursts?), Andrea reacts to her new situation and to the apocalypse by trying to find comfort and hope in her surroundings. She wants to feel safe and protected, and wants to be a part of deciding her own fate.
The viewer sees the insanity of Woodbury, but Andrea can’t. Like Rick, she has blocked out what she can’t process. Can we really fault her for being human?