Opinion: ‘Walking Dead’ is just what we need

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer is a sophomore integrated life sciences major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Shawn Mercer at [email protected].

“The Walking Dead” is a television series featured on AMC that has really impressed me. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the series depicts life after a zombie apocalypse and follows Rick, a former sheriff’s deputy and survivor, through his journey to find and protect his family in the post-apocalyptic world.

Rick does end up finding his wife, Lori, and son, Carl, along with a larger group of survivors. This group includes his best friend and fellow officer, Shane. Having believed his friend to be deceased, Shane and Lori had become romantically involved, only to find out Rick is still alive. This situation draws on all sorts of complexities of pain and emotion and leaves the viewing sympathizing with all those involved because their actions do not seem unreasonable. Ultimately, this interplay leads to death of Shane, not from a zombie but from a bullet.

Although taking place during a zombie apocalypse, the series is not about zombies; it is about people. The zombies are more or less obstacles that remain a constant threat to the lives of the survivors, but it is the interpersonal reactions that make this show relatable to real life.

This is just one example of the way in which the show pulls in the viewer by playing on real human emotion. Another theme that runs throughout the series is who is trustworthy and who is not. Initially, Rick and the other characters are more willing to help a stranger they encounter along the way, but as they get burned time in and time out, they begin to turn people away.

“The Walking Dead” blurs the line between what is right and wrong with the introduction of the series’ first villain: the Governor. Complete with a sinister eye patch, the Governor, at times, appears to be pure evil, but the viewer wonders, in his moments of humanity, whether there still is hope for him to come back to the light.

The show demonstrates strength with its strong female protagonists. The women on the show are not models placed conveniently to balance the gore of the zombies, but characters as complex as the men on the show. There is a wide breadth of roles the women play in the show, including mother, warrior, peace broker, leader and companion.

The show shocks the system of the viewer by killing off characters that those watching are already emotionally invested in. This makes the show more believable by not privileging those we have come to know over lesser characters solely for purposes of plot. This draws the viewer into a world where no one is safe and no name is sacred.

“The Walking Dead” is a show that viewers deserve in a world of reality TV and puffed-up drama. It is a show that takes the viewer along for a journey of human relations and emotion, blurring the lines between what is right and wrong, where all roads lead to danger with no safe haven in sight.