‘The Walking Dead’ and our fascination with zombies
[published April 17, 2013]
About: The Walking Dead is an American horror drama television series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff’s deputy Rick Grime, who awakens from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating “walkers”, resembling zombies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way. The eponymous title of the series refers to the survivors, and not the zombies.
I rented the television series The Walking Dead as a part of Zombie [pop culture] research – I really wasn’t going to write about it here. “What more is there to say?” I thought. It is a fact that zombies are a big pop culture draw.
However, I thought about this ‘draw.’ Vampires are sexier, smarter, faster etc. It is quite straightforward for me to understand this fascination. So why zombies who are ugly, dumb, slow etc.? The comparison is a good one. Both die as human and transform into other humanoid forms. Both feed on humans and animals…The metaphors for the vampire come quickly – eternal youth, beauty, strength – never ‘dying’ – in the sense of being gone forever. In both cases, death in the traditional sense is circumvented.
So, I looked at our fascination with zombies. Zombies stop at nothing to get what they want – food/flesh. Regardless of imminent threat or danger they persist. Not because they know better, they simply don’t care. If we need to confront our worst fear that would be it. There is no ‘desire’ here, on our part – the cultural desire for youth [creams, Botox, plastic surgery etc.] or strength [gyms] – there is just threat and fight. There is a fear. Additionally, there is the anxiety of becoming one and losing self.
There is a lot to confront here. A lot of it is psychological: The whole “maybe suicide is a valid option” thing, morals changing because of circumstance – “kill or be killed”, for one… Predators in the television show are also human eg. The Governor.
There is so much gore. Entrails, brains, blood, guts, and amputations…the squirm factor is exquisite.
I like this television series for many reasons. Firstly, there is an arc to the characters – most develop over time and learn something about who they are and their world. Also, certain high-profile deaths are shocking and unexpected. This is unique and other television shows usually keep their stars around, you know?
Unfortunately, I think I can predict the hook-ups but you never know: Daryl [I have a major crush on him] and Carol. Rick and Beth – Carl might get jealous because he has a crush on Beth, he also has to deal with someone taking the place of his mother … Carl is a very complex character actually. I imagine that his arc, over time, might be very special.
The actor interviews are some of the best I’ve ever heard and some of the actors have English accents. I did not know that: Rick, The Governor and Maggie…
The series has been well received and has received many award nominations including ones for the Writers Guild of America Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series (Drama). The series has also attained strong Nielsen ratings, surpassing various records for a cable series, including receiving 12.4 million viewers for its season three finale to become the most-watched drama series telecast in basic cable history.
It was announced on December 21, 2012 that The Walking Dead has been renewed for a fourth season