Quitting a television series isn’t something I find easy. After a while with a series, I feel as though I have invested so much time in it that I may as well stick around to see how it all ends. There are a few examples out there of my quitting a show (like “Desperate Housewives” right before the final season), but those are few and far between.
I tell you all this because I just don’t like “The Walking Dead” all that much. I don’t see myself deleting the season pass on my TiVo for the series (see above), but my goodness, I just don’t know why I watch anymore. My issues with the series exist on multiple levels as well. There isn’t just one thing about the show I dislike.
First off, the characters and the choices they make. I understand that not living in a zombie apocalypse it is hard to predict what I might do in such a situation, but I know this – Rick and his crew regularly do reprehensible and/or just plain ridiculous things. The entire skepticism that they have this season surrounding the town and its people are a part of that. We are supposed to understand that they have been burned one too many times, but they have approached this entire relationship as though it is doomed to fail. Why be there at all if that’s the case? The answer isn’t safety, because they feel like they’re not safe. There is, from the stance they have offered, no reason for them to stay in the town but they have… for now. We all know the relationship is doomed, we have known it from the beginning, but we’re still forced to endure the telling of the tale.
That leads right into point number two, there doesn’t seem to be a purpose to the overall story, nor is it clear that any sort of final destination exists (whatever it may be). Every season can pretty much be summed up by explaining that Rick and his crew go somewhere they think they might be able to stay for the rest of the apocalypse, but it all goes to hell and they have to leave worse off than they were before. The CDC, the farm, the prison, Terminus, and now with the town – the specific reasons they flee change, but at some level they are all interchangeable locations.
Part of the reason for this is the lack of a great villain or great enemy – the real fight that our heroes face is how to stay human in the face of the zombie apocalypse, and that’s a fight that the show regularly fails to tell well and which the characters are losing (this last bit is absolutely understandable and just fine). You might say to me that I’m wrong about the show not doing a great job depicting that struggle, but there again I only see variations on the same theme told over and over and over again (example: Carol does something awful which seems unforgivable and she is clearly sinking into the mire but wait, it all kind of makes sense even if you disagree with why she did it).
Now, the show did have one great villain, The Governor. Unfortunately, he was so great—and the producers must have known this—that they had him stick around far too long. I lost count of the number of times people around him should have killed him or Rick and company should have taken him out or he deserved to die for some other reason, but it happened again and again. Then, finally, when we all thought he was gone for good, he popped back up in severely weakened form in order to attempt to terrorize once more. By that point, however, he was just another storyline that the show drawn out for far too long.
This coming week we will get the season finale of the show. I will watch, some of it may impress me, but most of the time I have a feeling that I’ll be let down by the telling in the same way that I have felt let down for years. Then, I will go without it for months and when it returns this fall (presumably this fall anyway), I’ll sit down and watch the new season unfold in roughly the same fashion and wonder all over again why I continue to watch.
Here is the thing though, I’m sure I’m going to continue to watch. I just don’t see a way in which I won’t be there when the new season starts. Maybe next year will be my last though. Probably not, but maybe.
photo credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC