Halloween has come and gone, and all that’s left is its fetid, decaying corpse…AND I LOVE IT. I should specify that this corpse, in my mind, is AMC’s original zombie apocalypse series, The Walking Dead. It’s all the blood, gore, and undead magic of Halloween, safely ensconced in a TV set on a Sunday night.
Rick (played by hothot Andrew Lincoln, aka lovelorn Kiera Knightley pursuer from Love, Actually) and his ragtag band of survivors make their way through Georgia, beset by hordes of reanimated corpses, gunning for whatever warm meat they can get their necrotic, fleshless hands on. While surprisingly (and realistically, or as realistic as a post-apocalyptic epic can be) slow-paced despite its action-packed bloodbaths, The Walking Dead lumbers along like a camping trip, until it SMACKS YOU FULL IN THE FACE WITH GUTS. And weaponry. And explosions. AWESOME.
Beyond the gore, what else does The Walking Dead have going for it, other than the fact that it’s available on Netflix Instant Watch and Comcast OnDemand?
- Zombies are trendy.
I’d even go so far as to call them zeitgeisty. To atone for using the word “zeitgeisty,” I’ll say that with the proliferation of zombie literature, film, and social events available, the idea has been planted that one day flesh-eating corpses could infiltrate our society. I know people with zombie contingency plans. Maybe it’s a little escapism—using something much, much worse to avoid the crises closer to reality. Maybe it’s schadenfreude. Maybe this paragraph has gotten too German and needs to end.
- People like to imagine what they’d do if faced with a life-altering shitstorm.
Some people are surprisingly cool and resourceful, like old man RV owner Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn). Some people just wish they were already dead—blissfully ignorant of the hell the world’s become. In a zombie apocalypse, you get only the truest parts of people—because at any moment, you could be seeing parts of those people ripped apart by flesh-eating maniacs. It gets you thinking about how you’d react, and what you’d do to stay alive.
I’ve thought about it, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d be one of the first dead. You know in gym, when you played dodgeball, and some kids would just stand in the corner hoping to stay invisible until some little d-bag threw a ball right in their face? Yeah. Right here. Only the dodgeball is eating my face off.
- Plagues and pandemics bring the world back to nature.
Need food? Hunt for it. Need medicine? Sucks. Need water? Better use everything Bear Grylls taught you before the ‘lypse, because things just aren’t readily available. Survival of the fittest is never more valid than when you’re starving and have only coniferous forest and a crossbow. In a society so dependent upon technology and creature comforts (where a good portion of “the 99%” have never had to worry about having clean drinking water or access to indoor plumbing), watching people muddle through with nothing but weapons and their wits brings up the question of whether or not all our advances are actually advancing our lives from a Darwinian standpoint.
- There is no end to the absolute panic caused by a herd of cannibalistic undead racing towards your protagonist.
Every week. It doesn’t get old. Without fail, I find myself yelling at the TV like someone’s gonna hear me screaming, “Look out behind you there’s a horrrrrrrrrde!” When the undead appear, I panic. When there are only our survivors and the hot Georgia sun, I wait for the other severed foot to drop. My heart rate stays up for the entire hour. Does panic count as exercise?
- AMC original series are fantastic.
If the previous four reasons weren’t enough, this should be the clincher. Mad Men. Breaking Bad. The Walking Dead. Great TV comes in threes (I just made that up, don’t quote me), and damnit if these three shows don’t have some of the best dramatic performances on any TV station, period. AMC knows how to pick an era, a window of opportunity, and really commit to it. Whether it’s the retro sets and costumes of Mad Men, the bleak bitterness of a man whose body and soul are dying on Breaking Bad, or The Walking Dead’s starkly beautiful nature amidst a tale of Hell on Earth, AMC gets it.
If any of this sounds unbearably awesome to you, check out The Walking Dead. It is apocalyptic horror at its best.