A Four-Course Menu to Feed and Fix The Walking Dead

  By: Andrew Evans

AMC’s The Walking Dead is about the lives of the last survivors of every nerd’s favourite hypothetical, The Zombie Apocalypse. A small, (don’t say rag-tag, don’t say rag-tag) patchwork band of wanderers representing a horribly-clichéd cross-section of Southern society bumble through ghost towns, empty highways and endless forests trying to stay alive, despite idiotic decisions that would suggest the opposite.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this would make for a fast-paced, frightening spectacle. Sadly, for every five minutes of head-splattering and brain-chewing, there’s 15 of humourless, shrill people yelling at each other about broad philosophical dilemmas.

The show’s writing staff opted to spend most of this season watching these characters hang out on a relatively safe – read: boring – ranch with a mysterious veterinarian named Herschel and his anonymous family, who mostly just do household chores while casting worried glances at their new house guests.

When it was revealed that former showrunner Frank Darabont had a different – and really cool – idea for the season two premiere, his successor Glen Mazzara said it was dismissed in the writer’s room because “we wanted to get to our characters.” Problem is, we, the audience, do not want to get to your characters. We want the zombies to get to them. Frequently. These people are not sympathetic when given time to think. Their arguments over whether to search in this forest or that forest, or whether to give a weird 12-year-old a gun, or “LAWD, IS IT WORTH GOIN’ ON IN THIS HERE GODFORSAKEN LAND!?” are comically repetitive.

There is plenty of room in a one-hour drama for reflecting on a world gone mad and all that. Unfortunately, these aren’t the characters to do it. This is, for the most part, an angsty group of flustered morons with poor decision-making skills, unclear motivations, and bad accents.

As season 2 approaches its climax, why not serve up the zombies a delicious four-course meal of irritating humans? Trim down the cast, save some money and maybe the show becomes interesting again. Let’s hope the flavour profiles of these people are more complex than their personalities.

Antipasti – Carpaccio of Dale

 Token Wizened Old Man and fishing-hat aficionado Dale Horvath started out as a harmless presence, doling out the kind of paternal advice his beard would predict. Initially, he provided an emotional fulcrum around which everyone else could act hysterical and ridiculous. Sadly, the show’s writers have spent more time fiddling with Dale than Dale’s spent fiddling with his RV. His relationship with Andrea (aka the suicidal, gun-loving, crotch-grabbing, ammo-wasting, Daryl-shooting, middle-of-the-woods-car-sexing babe) quickly became less touching when it became apparent he wanted to introduce a little touching to it. His jealousy over her passenger-seat romp with Shane felt tacked on and more than a little disrespectful. “Of course the old widower would get the hots for her! He’s old and lonely!” The feeble confrontations that followed only made him more depressing.

Farewell, Everybody’s Uncle. Your eyebrows will be missed. May the zombies gnaw endlessly on your undoubtedly tough, jerky-like skin.

Primi – Fettucini e Carl

 Twelve-year-old Carl Grimes is one tough cookie. Shot by a hunting rifle, operated on without proper anaesthetic by a guy who considers a barn full of zombies an essential part of a ranching operation, witness to the feasting on of his adult guardians by zombies, yet seemingly not even emotionally damaged in the slightest! In fact, he wants to become an ass-kickin’, name-takin’ sheriff just like his daddy! This is aweso… No, hold on, this is ridiculous.

Much like Dale, Carl Grimes is a confusing creation. First he was a mildly-annoying kid who, quite reasonably, spent most of his time missing his dad, then hugging his dad, freaking out, and generally making Carl Faces. But after enduring a Series of Unfortunate Events through the first few episodes of this season, he’s emerged as a kid as incapable of negativity as he is of getting a tan despite wandering around fields in South Georgia. “Hey, I’m like you now,” he contentedly remarks to his eternally frazzled father after spending days bleeding out in a stranger’s living room. “We’ve both been shot. Isn’t that weird?” Yes, Carl, weird. That is so WEIRD. Apparently the bullet that burst in his torso imparted a strange appreciation of irony.

Sorry, kid, but the zombies need to finish what Otis’s rifle started.

Secondi – T-bone of T-Dawg

Let’s get this one out of the way quickly. The Walking Dead‘s only remaining black character is an innocent and generally bewildered guy who goes by T-Dawg and is a master of Will Smith’s “aw HELL naw!” sass. The show needs a real black character, not a diversity hire.

(One thing that will be  missed is hearing ol’ Dale say “T-Dawg” with unmatched whiteness. Of course, we’ve already served him up as an appetizer.)

Dolce – Lorimisu

Standing out amongst this pack of flustered goofballs for one’s boundless negativity is no easy feat, but as Lori, Sarah Wayne Callies is putting on a masterclass of self-pitying, whining, attention-seeking and improper use of birth control*. She conveys most of her emotions by playing with her hair and staring impatiently at people.

*A few warnings, ladies. 1) In the real world, morning-after pills will not be labelled “MORNING-AFTER PILLS.” They will also not be labelled “WHOOPSIES TABLETS” or “EMBRYO EXTERMINATORS.”  2) If you do purchase Plan B, do not consume them like Skittles. Two should do just fine. 3) They will not terminate a pregnancy – they help prevent conception for 72 hours following the oopsy-daisies moment. Just want to make sure we’re clear.

The overriding problem with Lori is that she is – or believes she is – always being acted upon. Nothing is her fault, nor can she fix any problems on her own. She blames Shane for their I-thought-he-was-dead affair, and her explanation to Rick went something like, “Shit, I dunno! I wanted to feel something.” (If there’s one thing The Walking Dead has taught us, it’s that there’s no aphrodisiac quite like being attacked by the reanimated corpses of your friends and neighbours.) And as if merely making her a put-upon, demanding control freak wasn’t enough, the writers have now turned her into a comically-exaggerated proponent of traditional women-in-the-kitchen, men-shooting-zombies gender roles.

Carol is even more passive, relying on a steady dose of male assistance and comfort to get through every episode. I suppose that’s the writers’ attempt to demonstrate the lasting emotional damage of spousal abuse, but it minimizes her to little more than a damsel-in-distress. Now that she’s hit rock bottom with the loss of her daughter, the show has an opportunity to develop her into a better character as she attempts to stand on her own again. Lori, on the other hand, will merely be the centre of a boring paternity argument that will only be solved if Maury Povich survived the apocalypse. I don’t think he did. Neither should Lori.

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Categories: Television

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4 Comments on “A Four-Course Menu to Feed and Fix The Walking Dead”

  1. Racquel
    February 29, 2012 at 3:02 PM #

    Okay, so I am a fan of “The Walking Dead”, and I do like the fact that this season has been more about the characters. But I thought your article was hilarious!! I actually laughed out loud; I got a number of weird looks at work for it, but it was worth it.

    Next time though, I would like to hear your opinon on the 3 most important characters Rick, Shane, and Daryl. To me they carry the show.

    • February 29, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

      Thanks Racquel! I could have written about the shows strengths – I’m not sure that Rick necessarily is one, personally – but saying nice things isn’t nearly as funny as complaining.

      The show has been slowly getting better over the last few weeks and the Shane/Rick dynamic is finally starting to take shape, so maybe once the season’s over I’ll come back and say something a bit more pleasant.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. February 29, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

    Reblogged this on Andrew Evans Talks At You and commented:
    My first piece for TheGazeMagazine.ca. Great people, going to be a great site.

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