As I progress further into my research for the nonfiction zombie book, I can’t procrastinate watching The Walking Dead anymore. I attempted to watch the series when it first came out and got maybe halfway through season 2 before I stopped. I couldn’t stand the characters. How did such idiots survive the zombie apocalypse? Why were they still surviving?
The scene where Lori goes into the field to pee on a pregnancy test instead of going into the bathroom and locking the door sealed it for me. It also drove me insane that Dale insisted on keeping his camper, which was held together with duct tape and luck, because it held sentimental value. I’m pretty sure when survival is at stake, sentimental value goes out the window. Park it in your driveway and make it your goal to come back to it one day. Until then, get something reliable that’s actually going to help your cause.
As I come back and watch the series now, I’m convinced the characters are insufferable for a reason. This is a very emotional time. The world has just ended, corpses are walking around on the streets. The survivors are trying to figure out what’s going on, but they are also trying to hold on to their humanity.
Zombies bear a striking resemblance to us, but they lack emotions. And that’s the point. They are supposed to make us reflect on our lives and figure out what it is about us that makes us human. The Walking Dead attempts to do that. It shows us the characters overreacting to situations, being extremely emotional, because they are different from the flesh-eating, unfeeling corpses hunting them.
There is also a sense that the characters are common and therefore flawed. It’s very easy for me to yell at the TV screen about how I would do things differently, but I’ve never been in that situation before. I don’t really know how I would react. Not everyone in the world is going to have the skill set to be rugged survivalist, but the point is they don’t have to be. Each character in the series brings something helpful and maybe unexpected to the group to ensure survival.
The most important thing to look at while I’m watching The Walking Dead is how do the characters grow? Every character has to grow and change, it’s part of their story. If they can’t or don't, that’s when they end up dead. While I still cringe slightly when I think about watching the series, I’m also excited to look at it through different eyes.