Megan Kallus" />
side bar
Sunday, September 24, 2023


While critically acclaimed, poor storyline plagues The Walking Dead’s full potential

Editor’s Note: The following article contains no spoilers. Feel safe to read on.

“The Walking Dead” pulls record numbers of viewers every week. 16.1 million viewers tuned in to Oct. 13’s season premiere, according to Nielsen ratings. Not bad for a genre show airing on a cable network. “The Walking Dead” proved long ago that it’s not just hanging on the coattails of monster-of-the-week trends in pop culture.

“The Walking Dead”’s unexpected commercial success shines a spotlight on the series’s biggest issue: “The Walking Dead” is a good show. It isn’t a great show. Critical reception is solid, but not on par with that of other AMC darlings like “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad.”

Why isn’t “The Walking Dead” showered with awards and critical accolades? Why aren’t people assigning the show the same literary value that they’re willing to give to “The Wire” or “Mad Men”?

The zombies aren’t at fault. Pop culture is more receptive than ever to science fiction and comic book adaptations. “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica” commanded massive fanbases and no small amount of critical acclaim. Both were genre shows.

Poor writing cripples “The Walking Dead.” Characterization is the show’s most consistent problem. Rick Grimes, the protagonist and de facto leader, is a sucking void of personality, charisma and common sense. In a world as bleak as “The Walking Dead”’s post-apocalyptic zombie land, you have to give viewers an interesting and engaging character to root for.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that character has to be “good.” “Breaking Bad”’s Walter White isn’t good in any conventional moral sense, yet fans still post obituaries and hold funerals for him.

Rick Grimes is no Walter White. His character isn’t fleshed out enough to make sense when he fails to act in a rational or sympathetic way. Most of the other characters share this same problem. They’re not people; they’re blank slates upon which the writers can transcribe black and white moral arguments and heavy-handed symbolism. Conflict doesn’t evolve organically, and characters often do stupid things because the plot requires it.

A show like “The Walking Dead” can’t afford to treat its characters like symbols or plot devices. Post-apocalyptic narratives can easily turn into misery porn. “The Walking Dead” often toes that line. Time and time again the show returns to the idea that normal people can’t function when society breaks down, and holding on to moral conventions will likely to get you killed.

If you want to make a show about people doing ugly things and living a life that might not even be worth living, you have to make sure that viewers care about those people. As long “The Walking Dead” fails to create interesting and engaging characters, it fails to live up to its full potential.

 Opinion columnist Megan Kallus is a pre-business freshman and may be reached at [email protected]


11 Responses to While critically acclaimed, poor storyline plagues The Walking Dead’s full potential

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑
  • Sign up for our Email Edition

  • Polls

    What about UH will you miss the least this summer?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...