I love The Walking Dead, or do I?
Before we get into this, I want to put across a disclaimer:
- This is my honest opinion — If you disagree, I’m sorry, but you are wrong:
Hype for the Walking Dead season 7 is taking over entertainment sites and social media. A frenzy surrounds the handy work of Negan in season 6’s finale.
The Walking Dead is undeniably popular, the show has a cult international following and is one of the biggest franchises on the planet.
Which is weird…
Am I going crazy, or is The Walking Dead not actually that great?
All Filler, Not Much Killer
Season 6 was pretty damn exciting and intense, about 10% of the time. The rest was super boring.
The Walking Dead has a habit of putting a lot of filler into its shows. Character development is dragged out at a painfully slow pace, often in a way that doesn’t drive the plot at all.
I liked Tyreese, but his death was one of those frustrating moments. The ending, where they found him, heaved him to the car and stopped half-way down the road was heart-breaking, devastating.
The whole thing with hallucinations before that? Bullshit. That dragged out plot was like a low-budget indie movie.
This is not progressing the story; this is filling an episode quota.
Okay fine, character development is important to the show. It means we get attached and care about what happens.
But this is exactly why I’m suggesting The Walking Dead is bad. Because while this method works, it is BAD.
Think of some other popular, character driven shows: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc.
Our love of characters like Tyrion, Walter and Draper burns just as bright as our love of characters in The Walking Dead, but (almost) every step they take moves the plot forward and drives the story.
Imagine if Game of Thrones spent an entire episode with Tyrion and Ser Jorah trapped on that boat. After 60 minutes of conversations, adventures and a touch of morality, we learn why Ser Jorah is so in love with Danny. Fantastic…
This is how I felt about Morgan and his damn jail cell reintroduction, for example.
So much time was invested in this one, tiny piece of character arc. It could have been explained in 5 minutes, or carefully weaved into the narrative, but it wasn’t.
You could cut The Walking Dead down to 10 episodes a season, remove the meandering filler and the plot would be unchanged. Add in improved characterisation, and you’d have a better-quality series.
All the Terrible Characters
For a character-driven show, The Walking Dead sure does have a lot of hated leads.
Currently ranking high on the fan hate list are the likes of Carl, Eugene, Morgan, and Gabriel — personally, I’m upset with Carol right now.
Every show has terrible characters, but The Walking Dead has so many. Why? Some, like Carl, are just bloody annoying, but I also believe it is down to that overdevelopment of personalities.
The creators try so hard to force character arcs and progression down our throats, making it over saturated.
When you’ve got characters like Rick, Daryl, and Michonne that people love and want to follow, you don’t really care about Sasha having a mental breakdown in the woods or Enid running off for some BS reason. These are interesting enough on their own, but they diverge from the story we want to hear, which makes us angry at their very existence.
It’s not that their stories are bad, we just don’t give a fuck.
Heavy Reliance on Cliff Hangers
TWD is a known advocate of the cheap cliffhanger, and fans got pretty fed up last year with the whole Negan thing. But this is not the first time The Walking Dead has left us on a dirty cliff hanger.
In season 4 we saw the destruction of the prison, but the likes of Glenn were still inside and plenty of characters unaccounted for when the show cut to black
Then, in season 5 Rick and the gang finally made it to Terminus and were immediately captured. What happens in the exciting conclusion of the series? You’ll have to find out next year, because the series doesn’t need a conclusion, apparently.
Following that, in The Walking Dead season 6, we got two. The first came in the mid-series finale when Sam starts calling out ‘mom’ in the middle of a zombie horde. And, of course, we had Negan.
A good cliffhanger exists to keep you addicted to the story; a bad cliff hanger exists to boost ratings by forcing consumers to come back for more. The Walking Dead has done this repeatedly, sacrificing good storytelling for cheap shots at getting high rating figures for season opener.
The creators have promised to kerb this habit, and I am inclined to believe them.
For now, though, this is another reason I believe The Walking Dead is bad.
What Once Made It Thrilling Has Become Boring
All the way back in season 1, The Walking Dead garnered a lot of excitement from its intense, horror-esque moments.
A character wanders into a house. It’s dark; there is silence. Then, the dead appear. Everyone shits themselves, it was great.
6 seasons down the line and they are still pulling the same old stunts. It’s not exciting anymore; it’s dull and predictable. You just want them to leave and get on with the story. You know it’s all going to be fine. Carl will, unfortunately, make it out alive.
Find a new way of building tension and forget about this tired old trope.
Contributor to the blog, Jess, pointed out something I definitely agree with. The Walking Dead has a distinct lack of soundscape. Initially, this made the show stand out and gave it an eery feeling. Now, though, it just seems to drag things out even more.
Music is a great way of building emotional resonance with an audience or teasing an upcoming moment. Without it, The Walking Dead seems kind of empty. They need to change their formula, revitalise it.
If The Walking Dead is Bad, Why Do You Watch It?
The Walking Dead, to me, is a bad show with flashes of brilliance. It’s wonderfully powerful, yet terribly flawed.
The point of this blog was not to bitch about why I hate the show because I don’t, it was to point out that it could be so much better.
I just want them to cut the shit. I want them to rip out the filler, stop wasting time on boring characters and cheap ways of getting us to keep watching, and focus on what makes this show amazing: a handful of genius characters, a clever narrative of realism set in a nightmare world and, of course, some sweetass zombie brutality.
What did you think of my rant? Agree, disagree? Let’s start a charming and civilised conversation in the comments section below.
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James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.