An Open Letter to Anyone Bitching About “The Walking Dead.”

First, let’s eliminate the roughly .0087% who work in the writing and/or television fields. Most likely, your criticisms are A) valid, and B) thoughtfully expressed. You’re off the hook, here.

Now, to address the hordes (see what I did there?) who – while seemingly wishing to wash their hands of the entire series – just can’t seem to STOP WATCHING IT EVEN IF IT SUCKS SOOOO BAD OMG. Assuming that you simply have issues with self-control and this is why you continue to watch something that obviously bothers you a great deal, I’m going to try and address your concerns the best I can, given that I’m 1) not Robert Kirkman, and 2) probably more of a “zombie fan” than at least 3/4 of you whiners.

In perusing the various message boards and fan sites, whiners seem to fall squarely into one of two schools of thought:

  • This isn’t as good as/doesn’t follow the source material.
  • This doesn’t have enough zombies/has too much “drama.”
  • To the former – I get where you’re coming from…to an extent. You get very attached to a story, and you almost always are disappointed when it’s translated into another medium and loses what you consider to be essential plot points or characters. The fact is, though, that what works in a novel (or a graphic novel) does not necessarily work on film. Even if it’s simply to spare yourself the disappointment, you have to go into the series with very, very few expectations. It’s even better still to view the source material and the series as two completely separate stories, that happen to share certain similarities.

    This has worked nicely for me so far. Confession: I squirmed uncomfortably for the first couple of episodes in Season One. I cocked my head – puzzled and irritated – during the whole CDC debacle (which doesn’t happen at all in the comics). After a second viewing, though, I actually grew to appreciate it.

    I also take a sort of weird comfort in the fact that while Sophia meets a terrible end in the series, she’s alive and well as of right now in the comics. I cried like a baby when Dale died in both versions (although he died an arguably more dignified death in the comics). I couldn’t stand Shane in the comics, and still can’t stand him, but I find him far more compelling in the series and have come to understand why they’ve continued to keep him around. Hershel is a much richer, more developed character in the series. Andrea, on the other hand, kicks WAY more ass in the comics. And – hey – I think just about everyone can agree that sexy hick Daryl Dixon, who is nowhere to be found in the comics, is a much welcome addition to the series.

    In short, I’m able to follow both stories quite happily. I really suggest you give it a try.

    Now. To the latter group. You know who you are. You’re pissed that all the living people just mope around and talk about their prrrrrooooblemmssss. You feel quite strongly that there is far too much talk, and not nearly enough walk(ers). I don’t even know where to begin with you schmucks.

    Let’s start with the fact that there is a WEEKLY SERIES WITH ZOMBIES BEING SHOWN ON TELEVISION. This in and of itself is a giant mountain of AWESOME! coated with a fine dusting of HOLY FUCKING SHIT! There is nothing else like this on television, and surely you can stop grousing for a second and admit this.

    If you want a weekly series about zombies, you have to look at it realistically, from the perspective of the people who are bringing this to you.

    First and foremost – BUDGET. I’m sure you and your friends could make a way moar awsum show about zombies that would just have loads and loads of the aforementioned, with a good, splattery zombie kill roughly every 42 seconds. But you know what? I’m guessing you and your friends are not independently wealthy and don’t have a great deal of money to spend on special effects. Therefore, your zombies – plentiful though they may be – are going to look like crap. Don’t even argue with me there. Unless you’re Rick Baker, you are not going to make a convincingly rotten horde with little more at your disposal than spirit gum and some fake blood from the joke store.

    Now, let’s take a trip in our WayBack machine and recall the Season One premiere. Remember how many goddamn walkers were in that episode? How much, do you reckon, did that one scene cost? I know it might be a tad over your head, but above and beyond special effects, there’s the cost of permits to film in downtown Atlanta, to ensure that an entire city block is yours and yours alone in which to film. There’s also the cost of extras, catering, crew, and equipment. And that was for ONE SCENE IN ONE EPISODE.

    Think that over, and then come back at me with your “there aren’t enuf zombies WTF?” Because unless you’re going to write a big fat check to underwrite the cost of more walkers, you need to can it, for real. I enjoy a good horde as much as you do, but I’d rather see an episode with one or two really creepy and horrible walkers, knowing that they’ve lavished a good deal of attention to detail on said, than have them blow their entire budget on one massive horde. That thing in the well was nine kinds of awesome….so awesome that I wasn’t going to begrudge them the fact that it was the only walker on that episode.

    Finally – Robert Kirkman (the creator of the series) has, from Day One, maintained that the titular “walking dead” refers to the survivors, not the walkers. His is the philosophy of Romero: a good zombie story is one in which the zombies themselves are secondary, even tertiary. The real horror is in what a situation like that does to the living. This is what we’re seeing now. We are seeing people who, in functional society, were for the most part moral, ethical, and law-abiding citizens. This is what this story is about. It quite effectively raises some pretty frightening questions, because while maybe there won’t ever be a zombie apocalypse, there could very well be a similar kind of societal breakdown as depicted here. Maybe you’re a superhero, but most people aren’t, and certain behaviors and personal philosophies are going to be examined, re-examined and possibly jettisoned as everything continues to (literally) decay. If you can’t appreciate the fact that this is what this series is attempting to explore, then perhaps you SHOULDN’T be watching it. There’s plenty of splatter out there that won’t make you have to, like, THINK. Go check it out.

    Meanwhile, I’m going to continue to enjoy the hell out of this show, and thank my lucky stars that AMC had the intelligence to see it for what it is.

    4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Anyone Bitching About “The Walking Dead.”

    1. I blogged about what readers would have done if you were there, kill the prisoner? let him live? comment if you please! 🙂

    2. Excellent response. Excellent. Frankly, I see enough zombies in my neighborhood and on this series. I need some relief a la the back stories. Frankly, the drama going on gives you someone to dislike and wish for zombie death upon. Right now, I’m not feeling too charitable towards the old guy who just stands around holding a gun and condemning everyone else.

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