Myersvision: The Walking Dead

What happens when you consume the same piece of pop culture so many times, you peel back the layers of rotted flesh to discover hidden depths that, on first glance, you missed?

This piece by our dear Audre Myers is a beautiful illustration of that phenomenon.  That said, the series she’s reviewing—yes, as entire, decade-plus-long series—is arguably something more than mere pop culture.  It may represent a work of television art.

The late aughts and early teens of this century saw a golden age of television as an art form.  Outside the confines of a film’s ninety-or-so-minute runtime, television series have the luxury of developing characters across hundreds of hours of screen time and multiple seasons.  Narratives can explore deeper complexity.  Themes can be examined in all their glorious nuance.

I don’t want to give away Audre’s key insight about this show, but I’ll note that I think she is correct.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

With that, here is Audre’s series retrospective of The Walking Dead:

November 20, 2022 presented the final episode of The Walking Dead. Now that it’s concluded, I can finish thinking about the way this series affected me.

Rick walked out of the hospital and found a world that defied anything he’d ever experienced. He rode a bike past his first zombie. Days later, better settled and prepared, he went back and found that zombie. He said,”I’m sorry this thing happened to you.” Then he put a bullet through it’s head.

It’s that scene that led me to think this was something different; this was a different story. This was not your typical television series. After multiple binge watches, and with the ending in place, I think my interpretation holds, makes sense, can be defended. It was a fight trying to watch it every Sunday night – my husband said he got over zombies when he was fourteen and it was up against the weekly football game. I lost control of the TV more times than I won and it was difficult to keep up with the stories. When he really wanted to watch football, he’d look at me and say, “Fine thing for a Christian woman to watch,” voice dripping with disdain. What I couldn’t explain to him, because it was still so new to me, what I couldn’t explain is I think it’s a Christian story.

Yes, that’s right, I think it’s a Christian story and I think it’s a story that supports conservatism (the political kind of conservatism). Let me know when you’ve picked yourself up off the floor – I’ll wait. The story started with compassion and that is displayed throughout the series. When the group does right, the outcomes are good – or hopeful, or uplifting. Conversely, when they act out of selfishness, things tended to go very wrong indeed. Understand; this was not played out in such a straight forward way. It took years of watching and thinking about the series for these things to fall into place. One of the characters, an Episcopal priest, no less, is a craven coward when the group meets him. His story is upsetting, especially because he’s a priest. But as the episodes play through a season and then another, he finds courage and God. The sentence that moves me is, “We’ve been praying for God to save our town. He already has. He’s given us everything we need.” With that, he goes out into a hoard and helps other townspeople defend their home. The group winds up on a farm and the man who owns it is religious but in the way most of us are religious – in our hearts and in our minds but only outwardly spoken about when an opportunity presents itself. It’s comical to me that every time the farmer brings up the subject of God and lives being directed by God, the other characters deny any such thing. But we, the audience, can see the truth.

The zombies are merely the vehicles by which the story is advanced – the real horror is the living people and the things that people do. The group encounters cannibals, and extreme narcissists of the psychopath sort. One, the very biggest and worst narcissist and psychopath gets saved by the group. His punishment for all the horror he has committed (with great joy, I might add) is to be jailed forever. He is held in a cell by the group and through seasons of the series, being exposed to this group and conversations with the leaders of the group, he begins to change. His is a redemption story. There are story lines all through the series where it’s obvious, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear (as the Bible says) that this is an unspoken theme.

Now; how can this be conservative in a political sense? With a few exceptions, the female characters are those Karen types; they think they know everything and everything should be the way they want things to be. They are wrong every time. Sometimes it happens quickly and sometimes it takes time for the ‘come-uppence’. Those exceptions, the female characters that have a sense of themselves, are like a lot of us who are conservative – we support our husbands and don’t try to be our husbands. We support men and work with them and share their joys and sorrows. Very different from ‘the narrative’.

If someone reads this review and has never seen the series I do have to warn you that the zombie makeup is, ummm – scary. There’s only one way to kill a zombie and there’s lots of that because there’s a lot of zombies. But you can get used to the makeup and once you meet the major characters, they bring you back for the next episode because you’ll find you just have to see what happens next. You will wind up caring about these people. Oh! I almost forgot! Daryl is mine.

16 thoughts on “Myersvision: The Walking Dead

  1. Thanks Audre. That is an interesting take on the series.

    I’d disagree with you on the worst psychopath in the series. Negan was pretty bad, yes, but as he always said (disregarding his psychopathic tendencies), ‘people are a resource.’ The governor, however, didn’t think like that. He was a man unto himself. Nothing mattered to him, not even his dead daughter. When you scale that character back, you can see he always had those tendencies. The mass societal change just opened things up for him.

    The zombies and gore factor are done extremely well but as you say, the fear factor comes from the people and how they have become. Not even Rick’s group escape the devolution, from human to animal. The way they treat the teenage boy they capture. Their willingness to leave people. Their attack on Negan’s compound. All of them are tainted by the new world but there is no black and white in this series. They still do good when it matters.

    The most harrowing episode, in my humble opinion, is called The Grove. For those who haven’t watched it and are looking to, keep an eye out for this episode and you’ll see what I mean.

    We could talk about this series until the cows come home. One day, we might actually get the opportunity to talk your ears off in person. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make an excellent point and it leads to me asking, in your opinion, was Alpha the worst of all?

      You know … and this is just a suggestion … we can talk face to face in real time via Face Book live chat. Alys and I do a devotional every Thursday afternoon (her evening) together face to face. It’s free and we’ve been know to chat for as long as three hours, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe one day. I’d always hoped, with you, with Dave, with Tyler, that our first meeting would be face to face and not on Zoom. Let’s see what next year brings.

        Alpha, regardless of her outlook, cared very much about her daughter. Her treatment might have suggested otherwise but she didn’t leave her behind, as she was prone to with others. I thought the casting was superb, bringing Sam Morton in for that role. I can’t think of another actress who would have done it better.

        The one thing about the series that irked me was one linked to The Last of Us 2. Isn’t it amazing how many gay people survived the apocalypse? Those keen to label me on that would call me all sorts and I’m not saying that some gay people wouldn’t be there but it’s amazing how many popped up and how keen they were to highlight their sexuality.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We started watching Fear the Walking Dead recently. We’re partway through series 2.

    We’re both enjoying it. I can see how some people might not have enjoyed the first series. The build up is rather slow but I prefer that than wham, bam, thank you ma’am. I like snippets of something going on rather than it being in your face from the first instance. Despite the instance where Rick shoots the little girl at the very beginning of The Walking Dead, there’s still something rather gradual about that first series. Rick, after all, is still exploring this new world.

    World Beyond we haven’t seen. Tina bought me a Walking Dead game last year that we have yet to explore.

    It’s a great world. Certainly an interesting acid test to figure out how many people in real life today would devolve and how many would keep their humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m laughing because I HATED Fear the Walking Dead until … well – if you haven’t seen it all yet, I don’t want to spoil it for you – let me just say, I hated it until season 4, I think it was.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m enjoying the evolution of the characters and a different story. After all, it’s a big world and people will adapt to it in different ways.

        By the way, I’ve tucked a little advice to you directly in my Christmas Carol review. Please take it. I really do value our friendship! 🙂

        Like

  3. No, you didn’t. I just pointed Tyler towards something but had the impression that if you watched it too, you’d disown me! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    From what I’ve written so far, I’m guessing our reviews will be vastly different. Looking forward to reading yours and Tyler’s contributions.

    Liked by 1 person

      • We might have to do them for next year’s Halloween, if Tyler is game? I do like reading reviews of the same thing, to see what other people saw in the film. One thing is for certain in these reviews though – I don’t think we need to run through a synopsis. If people don’t know about A Christmas Carol, I’d posit that they were in fact born yesterday! 🙂 🙂

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