The Walking Dead has spawned a best before date and it’s coming in 2023. While many fans of the show will be sad to see it go, I won’t be among them.
AMC announced in 2020 that season 11 would be the final season of the series, offering 24 new episodes, which started airing on Aug. 15. While I would never hope for the end of something others love, I’m not sad to see the series go.
A strong beginning
When the first season of The Walking Dead aired, I was thrilled. A horror fanatic to my core, I desperately hoped for something akin to a George A. Romero classic. Unlike Night of the Living Dead or The Crazies, however, I felt that The Walking Dead grew to resemble a gory soap opera rather than a horror show.
Season one, episode one started strong, with more than five million viewers. It sucked me in with serious 28 Days Later vibes. Right down to the lead character Rick Grimes waking up in an abandoned post-apocalyptic hospital, which is the same way the film begins.
As the show ebbed into season two it began taking the shape of a traditional television drama. Grimes’ wife became pregnant. Having trysted with her husband’s partner from the King County Sheriff’s Department, the baby news sparks animosity, overshadowed by a barn full of zombies.
Early in season three, the drama continues, but suddenly it’s less Maury Povich and more Sophie’s Choice. Grimes’ son is forced to kill his own mother after she performs an emergency cesarean section on herself and starts turning into a zombie. This was the last season of The Walking Dead I watched as a fan.
The human condition
Whenever I raise these points in conversation with true Walking Dead fans, the reasoning I get for all the drama is “the human condition.”
I understand the show is trying to encapsulate more than gratuitous gore and jump scares. It harbours reality and fantasy, showing us what humanity might be like in an eat or be eaten existence.
I get it. I just don’t like it.
When I watch zombies, I want to see hordes of them climbing each other at high speeds to get over a protective wall in Jerusalem. I want to see homemade tanks with chainsaws pushing through slatted boards to ward off undead clingers. I want to see forced quarantines in zombie-infested apartment buildings with secrets lurking on the top level.
I don’t want to stress over paternity results, watch young boys get their eyes shot out or cry over baseball bat-wielding weirdos murdering main characters.
In short, if a zombie feature makes me cry more than cringe, it’s not for me.
Source material deviations
I have plenty to say about my distaste for the show’s dramatic style, but I also have great admiration for the source material. The Walking Dead is based on a graphic novel series of the same name and while the books are similarly devastating, it’s nice to see literature and art birth such a following.
Something I find interesting about the books and show is that some of the most popular areas of the program had nothing to do with the source material. Daryl Dixon, for example, is a widely celebrated character who was designed specifically for the AMC television program.
Other inconsistencies included character expiration dates. The character Carol outlived her literary counterpart, while Carl died in the show, but lived to the end of the comic series as a hero.
To be continued
I may not be a fan of the show, but I can respect the following it’s created. The Walking Dead has notched itself firmly into the realm of cult classics and pop culture alike.
Fortunately for The Walking Dead fans, my opinion means very little to AMC. You’ll be happy to hear a spin-off featuring Daryl and Carol will premiere in 2023 as the main series ends.
Ah well, can’t win ‘em all. Not without Daryl’s crossbow anyway.