Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why I'm Done with The Walking Dead, by Kyle Johanessen


Hello out there. Sorry I’ve been gone so long, I’ve had even less on my mind than usual. I’m also a filmmaker in my spare time and my latest film, Devil May Care, is doing well in the festival circuit and has been occupying a lot of my time. Yes, this is shameless self promotion and no, this is not what the article is about so stop worrying. I talked a few weeks ago about the return of The Walking Dead and how I wasn’t all that excited about the new season.  Well it turned out to be a pretty good season that’s kept me pretty well interested. But after sitting through the mid season finale, I’ve just had enough, I really have. It’s not that the show's quality has gone down, far from it actually. I just can’t take it anymore.

I’m not gonna sit here and recap the episode. I’m going to talk about it of course (spoilers) but I’m just not going to go step by step. What I’m going to talk about is how the show is so completely devoid of any hope that there isn’t even any point in watching. I ran into this problem with Game of Thrones and the Red Wedding, and I knew that was coming.  I just can’t sit through the bleakness.

Now that’s not to say that I don’t like darkness in stories. Ask anyone who’s read my stuff, I put my characters through the ringer and have no qualms with killing them off. I tend to think having a dark story makes the light at the end of the tunnel shine that much brighter.  But never have I experienced such a lack of hope in a story, than I have in this TV show.  

Hershel has been brutally murdered, we watched TWO children die (yes, I think Judith is dead) the Prison is destroyed and the group is scattered with none of them knowing if the others have survived. So where is the light at the end of the tunnel? Where is the single ray of light piercing the clouds? Sure, the Governor is dead, but that only offered a few fleeting moments of satisfaction before realizing that the damage has been done. Ok, it was immensely satisfying, but it was still fleeting.

So now what’s going to happen? They’ll introduce new characters that will all die. Some will be introduced just to die. Others will be introduced to let us fall in love with them first and THEN they’ll die. And ya know what? I’ve just had enough.

Other shows this dark let you know somehow or someway everything will be ok. But not shows like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. And yes, I know they both started comics or novels and they are drawing inspiration from those sources and ya know what, I think BOTH shows would benefit from deviating a little bit. 

It’s not just characters dying but the manner in which they die. Rob Stark was betrayed, made to watch his pregnant wife get stabbed to death (in the stomach) before being stabbed in the gut and beheaded. Hershel didn’t just die, he was cut in the throat and then brutally beheaded. Oh, and we get to watch an eight year old girl get bitten by a Walker. Greeeaaaat.

These aren’t heroic deaths, they're senseless murders. And, in most situations, they don’t do a whole hell of a lot to drive the plot forward. “But, Kyle,” you may say “People get senselessly murdered in real life. Real life is like that.” Yeah, your right, real life sucks. That’s why I watch shows and movies, for the escapism. I don’t need to watch a television show to be reminded that life is bleak and dim and we’re all going to die some day (Some say I’m a glass half full kind of guy). I want to see a world that sure gets pretty dark sometimes but in the end, good will win out. That is not Game of Thrones and it most certainly is not the Walking Dead.

So I think I’m moving on from this show, as I have chosen to move on with Game of Thrones.  I just don’t see the point anymore. There isn’t going to be any justice in these worlds, the good guys aren’t going to win and I get enough of that in the real world. I don’t need to watch characters die, horrifically, for the sake of shock value rather than interesting plot or heroic sacrifice. My fantasy worlds need to be different from the real world, or they’re not fantasy. So despite the quality of the story telling within the Walking Dead, I more than likely won’t be tuning in again.

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