Friday, March 15, 2013

Oh, the humanity!: Fans of 'The Walking Dead' watch for the difficult choices and moral conflict

At face value, “The Walking Dead” can be perceived as just another zombie story.  

Standing out from the multitude of post-apocalyptic films, comics and TV shows is AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

It features the typical group of survivors running from staggering herds of drooling, tattered, undead bodies.

Yet, “The Walking Dead” is perhaps the most popular show of its genre on television — it has something the others don’t.

You ask around campus, and you get the same general consensus.

The zombie gore attracts viewers, but they keep watching because of another element — the humanity.

“I started watching ‘The Walking Dead’ because all of my friends here watched it,” first-year Gailonn Wixon said. “It started with the zombie aspect, but now that I’m more into it, it’s more of the humanity aspect.” 

Although the zombie violence is consistently entertaining, dig beneath the purely entertaining aspects and you find that its characters drive the show. 

The zombie survivors featured on “The Walking Dead” are certainly dynamic.

With different personalities, backgrounds and influences, each character has a unique set of qualities viewers can relate to.

This is especially observable in one of the main characters, Rick Grimes.

by Kelli Breland, Guest Writer

Rick’s priorities are equal to what most of us would choose in the event of an apocalypse — the protection of family and friends.

As the leader of the group, Rick must often make difficult decisions over who lives, dies or is put at risk in order to ensure the safety of his tight-knit group.

Most of Rick’s decisions are highly controversial but have arguably no obviously right answer, which leads him to ultimately question his own humanity.

In this way — watching relatable characters make choices that cause them to question their own identities — viewers face the question themselves: “what does it mean to be human?” 


When choices have no clear right answers, being “moral” suddenly isn’t so easy.

Within the bounds of society, we don’t have to decide who lives and who dies on a daily basis.

But in “The Walking Dead,” these boundaries are removed, and the harsh environment makes these calls inevitable. 

Robert Kirkman — author of “The Walking Dead” comics, the basis for the TV show — capitalized on this idea in an interview with The Huffington Post.

“The fall of civilization is a fun fantasy to explore … and being able to explore and experience it in a very safe and detached way is something that's pretty appealing,” Kirkman said during the interview.

New episodes of “The Walking Dead” air every Sunday on AMC at 9 p.m. 

However, if you haven’t been keeping up with the show, both season one and season two are available on Netflix.

The show is based on a comic series, so for those that don’t handle cliffhangers well, read the graphic novels, which are also available in electronic form.