I like to think of The Walking Dead as the modern television version of the Dave Matthews Band. Remember how in the late 90s and early 2000s seemingly everyone liked Dave Matthews Band because it was safe to do so?
You could get asked by any adult, co-worker, or kid if you liked the Dave Matthews Band and if you said, “yes,” 95 percent of society would accept that answer while only five percent would call you out on your bullshit.
Most people “sorta” liked Dave Matthews Band, but just wanted to fit in and give the answer easiest in doing so, so I feel like they became a bigger thing than they should have been. I can’t tell you how many kids I went to high school with who were so pumped to see “Dave” in concert yet NEVER speak about that band anymore. Not ever.
I feel the same way with The Walking Dead.
(Writer’s Note: This article — and subsequent thoughts — are strictly about The Walking Dead television show and not the graphic novels, or correlations to the novels or any other weird shit like that. I watch television, so that is what I’m strictly writing about here.)
It’s the most watched basic cable television show in history and I don’t know anyone that truly enjoys the show. Everyone sorta likes The Walking Dead; just like DMB. It can be amusing sometimes. The action-driven scenes involving zombies are decent enough.
But Rick is the same mindless character the last three seasons and his son Carl needs to die. Or maybe the producers saw that Carl couldn’t even play dead as a zombie and believed they would be best served keeping him alive and alternating episodes where he isn’t in the plotline. The kid that plays Carl is so bad that he makes the kid that played A.J. Soprano look like Tom Hanks. Michonne is finally getting a back story now of all times? And the new characters: Why should anyone care about them and their fate?
Do you ever go into each week begging for the next episode of TWD? The next episode is just always sort of there. I don’t know anyone that would list The Walking Dead as their favorite show on television. If they do, they’ve probably taken every Buzzfeed quiz about which television character they are or which deli meat they would be.
I just don’t understand how this show about zombies — with minimal character development and really mediocre acting — is the top-rated cable television show of all time. This show regularly has five-to-six times the audience of Breaking Bad and Mad Men (!!!!!!!!!!!!, !!!!!!!!!!!!!) yet, I couldn’t name a soul that would say The Walking Dead is better than those shows.
Is America really filled with this many people that are iffy on entertainment options? Talking Dead, a show ABOUT a show, gets ratings this season that are nearly even with Breaking Bad‘s final season. That’s fucking insane… Do these people not know True Detective exists? Do this many people not get HBO?
Not to insult DMB or The Walking Dead as the worst thing ever; that’s not my intent with that comparison. Both are perfectly good forms of their respective entertainment with things they do well (Dave: live shows, Carter Beauford and percussion implementation with the band; TWD: good at cliffhangers and battle scenes, it’s diverse?), I’m just at a loss to see how both became so universally popular other than having mass appeal.