It’s Really Not About the Walkers (The Walking Dead)

My partner and I just started watching The Walking Dead from the beginning, for the first time.

I know, I know. Season 11 and the series finale wrapped up late last year. We are behind even more than usual on this one, because for years we actively resisted watching it.


  1. Zombies
  2. Post Apocalypse

Zombies and post apocalypse tend to go hand in hand, but not always.

I don’t like zombies.  I don’t like zombie stories.  Most of the time, they’re far too gruesome for my tastes. Brain- and flesh-eating zombies opens up a story to all sorts of “cool” gross-out moments, and The Walking Dead does deliver its fair share.  (I admit, I close my eyes for those moments.)

As for post-apocalypse:  It’s technically science fiction, so it’s in my wheelhouse, but there’s been so much PA put out lately that I’m pretty sick of it.  Most PA evolves into dystopia, too — also not one of my favourite sub-genres.

Have you spotted the pattern?  Zombies, PA and dystopia are all downer genres.  I write space opera, which is nearly always positive and upbeat, even if the upbeat is just the ending.

I had no intention of watching The Walking Dead, but a relative was raving about the series finale, and also happened to mention that after the first season the zombies — sorry, the walkers — are most often just a background complication to further ruin the lives of the ensemble cast, and that most of the series is really about the people, their relationships to each other and how they grow throughout the series.

My story-teller brain was intrigued.  I’ve heard people raving about the series over the years.  I saw people give up social engagements in order to watch the next episode, or rush home to watch it now the episode had dropped.

In addition, the series was created by Frank Darabont (based upon books and comics) and he was the original show runner.  As Darabont’s Shawshank Redemption is on my top ten movies of all time list, that was a positive for The Walking Dead.  Darabont wrote the first few episodes, too.

So we tentatively sat down to watch the first episode.  Which ended up being not too bad — although the hero shooting a child (a zombie child, I hasten to qualify) in the face really sets the tone for the whole series.  It’s a warning we took to heart.

We watched a couple more episodes…which turned into watching it every night.  We’re up to season 7 now, which is uber hard to watch (if you’re familiar with the series, you know why).  We’re not likely to quit until we find out what happens to everyone.

What I like about the series:  It doesn’t pull punches.  Main characters die (which is more realistic than the principal actors all coming through unscathed).  Major characters make shitty choices and have to face some dire consequences.  And running through the whole series is the “family” thread that Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln, sporting a damn fine southern accent) keeps clinging to as one of the few things that will save everyone from turning into conscience-free killers.

So far, the storylines have managed to surprise me a few times — which is not half-bad, because most of the time I am way ahead of the scriptwriters.

Even if zombies and PA isn’t your thing, if you like solid character stories, you might actually enjoy The Walking Dead.  And this month, the final season drops on NetFlix, too.

But given how far behind the bell curve we are on this, you’ve probably seen the whole series already.

If you haven’t, enjoy.


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