Television is escapism at its finest. We can throw ourselves into any kind of exciting time, space, or zip code. We can be spies, warriors, or prominent government officials. We can have beauty, brains, or power. The possibilities are endless. It’s why we love it. We appreciate the actors who can take us to that place and directors who can capture the setting in ways that engage and excite. Even the darkest shows give us some avenue of escapism. Well, every show except for one: The Walking Dead.
I’ll watch every episode of The Walking Dead, but there’s no denying that is the most intense bummer on television. Sure, it’s an impressive cinematic achievement and appropriately frightening at the right times, but I leave every show wondering how anyone could ever want to spend time in this place. It’s a dark, horrible place filled with death, destruction, and no cable. Plenty of shows have gone the post-apocalyptic route, but all of them have offered a possibility for future redemption. The Walking Dead offers only opportunities to kill some zombies and maybe get busy with the farmer’s daughter on the floor of a prison guard tower. There is no calvary. There is no cure. There is no hope.
That’s not to say that The Walking Dead is an ineffective show. The cinematography used in the show is really something to be aspired to by future shows of this nature. The show has a lead (Andrew Lincoln) that can deliver when the stakes are really high. The massive amounts of zombie killings satisfy the bloodlust of 19 year olds everywhere. With the difficult second season tenure on the farm a thing of the past, Glen Mazzara has answered America’s clear mandate: We want more zombies. There are zombies everywhere ready to enjoy a meaty calf or a tasty throat for their dinner. In addition, our heroes have now become far better at splitting zombie wigs. There’s no doubt that the show has gotten appreciably better in its third season. Still, it remains probably the least feel good hour in all of television.
Which brings us to a few Sundays ago. Reactions poured in from critics and fans alike that revolved around some form of “shocking” or “heartbreaking.” While those are the feelings that Mazzara was attempting to get from the viewers of his series, it’s difficult to gather sympathy for a character many to believe one of the worst in television history. Lori’s death scene was well-crafted and well-acted. It almost made you wonder (as Andy Greenwald did) what could have become of Lori’s character if she were written any better. As a result, a supposedly dramatic death scene becomes just another horrific scene for a show that trades primarily in the horrific. At the end of it all, Lori is truly striving to go out as heroic as possible. Sadly, it won’t get remembered because a veterinarian’s daughter sliced her in half with a rusty bowie knife. Even the rarely used T-Dog made a truly heroic sacrifice in an attempt to save Carol from certain zombie dinner. All he got for his trouble was having his throat eaten off by the two walkers he was pinning to the wall.
And that’s the real lesson learned while watching The Walking Dead. Regardless of who you are, the sins you committed, or the good deeds you have done, everyone is going to die horribly. Any glimmer of hope the show lets in is instantly erased in a massive spatter of blood and flesh. It may be the harsh reality of life in a zombie apocalypse, but that doesn’t make any less of a bummer.