Zombie series transcends genre expectations

Season 4’s penultimate episode, “This Sorrowful Life,” brought in around 10.99 million viewers.(Photo from imdb.com)
Season 4’s penultimate episode, “This Sorrowful Life,” brought in around 10.99 million viewers.
(Photo from imdb.com)

Cristina Vasquez-Muniz

“The Walking Dead” (the comic books, the AMC TV series, the video game) is the story of humanity in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ridden world.

If you’re not up-to-date, (or you’re “still working on the first season!”) then put this down and go have a “The Walking Dead” marathon on Netflix. I promise you, it’s worth it.

This is a story where the zombies are, in reality, the least of their problems. In a society so demolished and savage, people become the monsters. In the comics, the realization hits like a ton of bricks.

“The second we put a bullet in the head of one of these undead monsters […] We became what we are! […] That’s what this comes down to. You people don’t know what we are. We’re surrounded by the dead. We’re among them–and when we finally give up, we become them! We’re living on borrowed time here.“ […] You see them out there. You know that when we die–we become them. You think we hide behind walls to protect us from the walking dead! Don’t you get it? WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!” -Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Vol. 5: The Best Defense.

“The Walking Dead” isn’t just a TV version of your average zombie slasher flick. It’s a story of humanity, the good and the bad. It’s asks the questions, “What do we become when the institutions we relied on collapse so suddenly?”  “What becomes of our children when put in a lawless state?” “How do we deal with being put back into our primal state of survival after we’ve evolved a conflicting sense of morality and ethics?”

“The Walking Dead” confronts all of these issues. Carl (played by 13-year-old actor Chandler Riggs) is the innocent child who’s forced to grow up.  The baby Judith is a symbol of the future: it’s scary and so fragile. Judith makes us think how this stage of survival and savagery cannot last forever.

The Governor (played by David Morrissey) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) show what power does to men, and clearly marks the difference between good and evil. While the governor loses himself to this power and becomes (especially in the comics) the great villain of the story, Rick loses himself in a different way. He is the hero, but not a perfect one. But, like in real life, the lines are blurred.

“The Walking Dead” is the story of humanity, and how easily we lose ourselves to temptations, power and greed when presented with the opportunity. You don’t watch it for the gore or for the zombies; you watch it for what it says about the human race. This is the story of regular people, good, bad and everything in between, put in a world where life is hard to keep, and it’s unsure if that life is even worth keeping.

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