Everything Wrong with The Walking Dead (And What You Can Learn From It)
The Walking Dead is a good show. It’s gritty, dark, often times raw, and has that gore factor that you just can’t find on broadcast television. It gets people talking.
But, as all stories, there are imperfections. I’m not here to ask why they have a 2013 Hyundai when the apocalypse happened in 2010 (something has to pay for all that gore and apparently it’s the South Korean car makers).
I also don’t care about certain characters unlocking infinite ammo mode. Let’s just assume they reloaded off camera.
“But, there was no time…”
LET’S JUST ASSUME!
Here, I want to talk about some weird storytelling flaws that you should avoid. (Probably spoilers, but, dude. Netflix.)
1. Almost every episode’s plot is launched by someone doing something stupid.
You didn’t have to be a super genius to survive the apocalypse. The law of averages says that isn’t the case. When The Walking Dead starts, Rick comes out of a coma and is thrust into a world he doesn’t recognize. It’s okay if he makes some mistakes, especially if he’s just going through routine.
“Hark, a monster! I shall shoot it!”
Gunshot brings hordes of zombies. Okay. He didn’t know any better. He learns that shooting them is maybe not the best course of action (if he survives).
In the second season, Sofia, a little girl, goes missing. She was supposed to stay somewhere and wait for Rick. He went back and she was gone. The rest of the season is spent with them living on a farm, sending out search parties. Now, when I was a kid and Mom told me to stay somewhere and wait for her, you better believe I did. When I was separated from her in the grocery store, I knew to not wander around because she would retrace her steps.
Realize I was not surrounded by zombies at the time.
Again, I can forgive an 8 year old for getting scared and running like Hell, but she didn’t even go back to the car. And she wasn’t attacked by a zombie at that point, either. See, when they do find her, she’s a zombie. And, she still looks pretty normal. Which means she was bitten and got away or she died of natural causes and the infection took her. Rick wasn’t gone for very long, so she wasn’t attacked where he left her. He would have heard a scream and the zombies would have lingered.
The real stupid thing that got me, though, was after the massacre of the zombie pets in Herschel’s barn (that’s right, I’m not addressing the stupidity of the zombie pets).
Herschel is in town, drinking away his feelings. Glen and Rick go to find him. They tell everyone before they leave:
“We think Herschel went into town. We’re going to go get him. We’ll be back later.”
Ten minutes later, Lori, Rick’s wife, is running around going “they’ve been gone too long.” Jesus, lady, it hasn’t even been an hour. So, she decides to go into town and find them. She doesn’t tell anyone she’s leaving. On the way into town, she’s looking at a map and crashes into a zombie (flipping the car because…physics?), and she’s lying unconscious as zombies start to close in around her.
Meanwhile, no one at camp has even realized she’s missing. They don’t realize it until nightfall. While I’m sure some people think, “High Drama!” I say, “No. Let the bitch die. If she’s dumb enough to A) go looking for someone before they said they’d be back B) not tell anyone where she’s going in a world populated by zombies and C) not watch the goddamn road, let the zombies eat her.”
When anyone says they like The Walking Dead because of “the characters” I’m forced to ask why. They are TDTL, too dumb to live. You like the show because people are running from zombies and there’s high tension with climatic payoff. Call a spade a spade.
It’s not drama. It’s stupidity. People don’t like dumb characters. If you’re going to get your characters in stupid predicaments, try to give them a smart/unavoidable reason to be there, otherwise, it’s dumb.
2. Utterly Useless Women
Not every girl needs to be Buffy. But, one of my gripes with The Walking Dead is that none of the female characters are strong. When a female character does have a moment of strength, it’s like flashing arrows are pointing at it. “Look! We aren’t the 1950’s! See?”
Is it ironic that, during season 2, any scene featuring the female characters without a man present takes place in the kitchen? Is this some kind of agenda or just better lighting? Are you trying to make a statement? Andrea doesn’t know how to shoot and wants to learn. The men folk laugh her off. The character, Shane, who becomes the most deplorable villain of the second season, is the only one who takes her seriously. Oh, and after she murders a whole bunch of zombies, they have sex. Because, you know. Character building.
There’s a whole damn scene in the middle of episode 10 season 2 (in the kitchen, of course!) where Andrea and Lori hash it out about female gender roles in the Zombie Nation.
Lori literally says, “The men can handle this on their own. They don’t need your help.”
It’s like the world not only ended, but regressed to some caveman era.
*grunt* Leave the decision making to the men folk. *grunt*
Have a strong female character. Don’t make her a bitch. Don’t kill her off. And, for the love of God, don’t make her a whiner.
3. What planet are they on?
Notice how I haven’t called the zombies “walkers” in this whole article? Because it’s weird to call them “walkers.”
Shuffles? Yep. Doesn’t care if pieces fall off ’em? Yep. Only die with a shot in the head? Yep.
That bitch is a zombie.
They have a whole conversation with the killer from the first season of True Blood where we find out HIS group has been calling them Lame Brains. I think the name speaks for itself.
“We call ’em Walkers.” Why? Are there Runners? Gliders? Floaters?
Why? Do zombies not exist in your world? Did George Romero never exist? It’s weird that they don’t acknowledge them as what they are. It’s like they live in a parallel universe. The theory that this is true exists. The Walking Dead takes place in a world where zombies never hit pop culture. That’s a whole different problem. This is a whole subset of people it’s hard to relate to because they don’t know what zombies are.
If the dead started rising in our world, we would be right on top of calling them zombies.
Is it silly to call them zombies? Maybe. But, at least acknowledge it. You haven’t done anything new. There isn’t a twist that makes them different. Someone needs to call attention to it, even in passing. Even if they call them Walkers out of respect for the people they once were, that’s fine. Just give us a hint.
On the flip side, there are the frozen zombies in Game of Thrones. Why doesn’t this bother me? Two reason
- They exist in a world that never heard of zombies
- The White Walkers appear to fall under the command of a specific Walker and are organized. This is a big enough twist on the zombie trope to give them a special classification.
Okay, so that’s not everything that’s wrong with The Walking Dead, but it’s some stuff to think about if you’re writing your own story. So keep these three things in mind.
- If they’re Too Dumb To Live, kill them.
- Women can have a life outside of the kitchen.
- Call it what it is or at least give us a reason to not call it that.