Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
Has The Walking Dead Killed the Zombie Craze?
Despite my meandering and confusing review of The Walking Dead (TWD) seasons one through five, in which I professed to dislike the show and then go on about what’s so good about it, I have continued to watch the show. I’m a total sucker for zombie fiction, even the bad stuff, and TWD is definitely the bad stuff. Since season five the show has gotten worse, not better, and I don’t see it improving anytime soon.
The same problems that have always plagued the show continue to the current early season seven. When they’re not shooting or stabbing something, they walk and talk or stand and talk. I had thought this dull pacing had its zenith in season two, but seven is making a strong run for it. The protagonists are still morons, improbably still alive years into the zombie apocalypse. If there’s a wrong move or a dumb decision to make, they will embrace it. Suspension of disbelief is tested constantly on this series.
Any other kind of show wouldn’t have as much problem with this, but as I point out constantly, good zombie fiction is not about the zombies but the still living protagonists. I have a really hard time enjoying a zombie show in which characters who have somehow become fan favorites stand around and jaw jack about who likes who and why doesn’t everyone like me and please be quiet while we’re trying to escape. That is a shout out to a young boy character in season six who was so consistently stupid that when he was finally put into a position where he had to finally stop being stupid or he’d get a bunch of other people killed…well, I’ve heard a lot of viewers cheered when he got it.
And you don’t have to read what viewers think of the show, you can watch their reactions. I hadn’t known it was a thing for people to tape themselves watching the show so we can see their reaction to it. That level of echo chamber was a huge and confusing revelation to me. But I will use a good tool when I find it, and after watching the three biggest shows of seasons six and seven (so far) I can make some assumptions about where the show is going.
You see, the people who produce TWD have developed a bad case of audience contempt. Instead of trying to make a good show that viewers will come back to because they enjoy the experience of watching, they connive and fool and string along, showing a strong disdain and disrespect for everyone who watches and, theoretically, pays the bills by watching the (massive numbers of) advertising and buying TWD swag.
The Walking Dead is the heart of the zombie genre right now, and will be the first thing people think of when the zed word is mentioned for a long time to come. The contempt the producers are showing for the audience is giving the genre a bad name and I worry that bad name will spread out to movies and books, leaving me fewer opportunities to enjoy my favorite monster.
They have to know they’re not entertaining people. One quick peek at internet articles will show a lot of people promising to quit watching. The producers continue to spit on their audience, though, knowing full well that no one is going to quit them. On the surface, it looks like they are correct that TWD audience is a bunch of masochistic zed junkies, until you watch the fan reactions in real time. In the last episode of season six there was a cliffhanger of such epic proportions that a surge of protest washed over the show. Tons of people went on-line saying they’d never watch again. Their viewing reactions were “horrified” and “pissed off”. I thought for a while they might actually do it.
But no. Season seven rolled around and the gang showed up to watch. This time, the producers went beyond cruelly making loyal fans wait for months to find out what happened (when the story could have easily concluded the cliffhanger in season six without damaging the storyline) and made them wade through a third of a show with the standard dull talk until BAM! the cliffhanger was resolved. Not. There was a second part to the denouement, one guaranteed to crush the heart of fans. The scene was massively violent and gross, showoffy in its fx ferocity. The viewers weren’t angry, they were stunned. They were sickened and bewildered, like a friendly puppy kicked in the teeth.
“Ah,” I said to myself. “The rest of the season will be dull as dirt to lull them back into complacency.” Because that’s poor writing and production, which is what we’ve seen for several years in TWD. They despise the audience paying their salary and know they will sit through hours of snoozefest so they can be smacked in the face again later in the year. And it did get dull. The audience will dutifully wait till December for another real advancement in the plot, and I have no doubt it will be insulting and cruel. Maybe this time they’ll take the hint and find some other zombie fiction. They can read my reviews and find something good to watch.
Remember that Fear the Walking Dead was still in the secret stage when I wrote my first TWD review? I think it was secret because they knew they had a dog on their hands. That show makes TWD seem lively as a firewalker, and the producers have made it so cheaply Ed Wood would be proud to own it. I consider it another indication that TWD people sneer at their audience and throw darts at their pictures.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Americans would stand up to being treated badly and make the ne’er-do-wells pay for it? I’m not holding my breath. But I do worry that they will react to it enough to send my favorite monster back into the shadows, and that is doubly irritating.
- The Walking Dead – AMC
- The Walking Dead – IMDB
- The Walking Dead – Facebook
- The Walking Dead – Twitter
- The Walking Dead TV Series – Wikipedia
CFR: In Addition: The Walking Dead – RIP.
LOLOLOLOLOLOL! Sorry I couldn’t resist.