Monday, 11 November 2013

The Walking Dead: Soap Opera or Social Commentary?

Fans of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and subsequent films, which owe a huge debt to Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, will recognize his influence on subsequent "zombie" films and specifically on the hit television series The Walking Dead. Like millions of others, I am a fan of the series, and I was surprised to read that Romero regards The Walking Dead as a "soap opera" and declined to become involved in its production. Romero indicates that his zombies were always used for satirical purposes or political criticism, and he sees this missing from the current series.

While I agree that there is an element of soap opera to the series in that viewers get hooked on what's coming next, I think the series is much more than that. For example, I compare the Rick of old, who apologizes to a crawling and mutilated zombie for what has happened to it and kills it as if wanting to end its misery (Season 1, Episode 1, "Days Gone Bye"), to the current Rick, who twice drives away and ignores the pleas of a hitchhiker for refuge and then stops to pick up his backpack after he has been destroyed by walkers (Season 3, Episode 12, "Clear"). I think the series is quite cynical in  regard to its depiction of humanity's capacity to become desensitized to violence in its efforts to survive. (In fact, the most recent episode in which Carol becomes an outcast because she has killed two members of the community  is entitled "Indifference".)

For the text of the article on Romero, please click here.

For an interesting article on Melissa McBride, who plays Carol, please click here.

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