A while ago, I wrote an article listing six TV shows that are worth your time. Among those six shows was "The Walking Dead," which, consequently, also happens to be one of my absolute favorite TV shows of all time. I’ve been watching this show since it first aired, and it continues to baffle me with its brilliance.
Recently, one of my professors published an
By the time this article is posted, the premiere of the seventh season will have aired, and the whole zombie fan world will once again resume talking about the wonderful work of art that is "The Walking Dead." So, to match those seven seasons, here are seven reasons that I believe "The Walking Dead" to be a true masterpiece.
1. The scary good plot.
Whenever people ask me about this show and why I think it’s so brilliant, they seem to assume that this show only consists of people continually running from different dangerous zombie situations. There certainly exists the opportunity for a TV show about zombies to be cheesy and dumb and unoriginal. However, this is not the case with "The Walking Dead." This show is no longer just a story about the danger of being around walking, diseased, half-human monsters. This is a story about a new world and its interaction with a new terrain. It’s a story about how all of humanity now relates differently with each other and with the world they live in because of a devastating struggle.
2. The astronomical character development.
This show actually has by far the best character development out of any show I’ve ever seen. A once scared, weak, and abused housewife eventually becomes a strong, ruthless, vital warrior and member of the community. A young, scrappy, pizza delivery boy eventually turns into a wise husband and skilled defender of his community. The character development in this show is quite simply unreal in its brilliance. Watching these characters grow over time is half of why this show is so gripping.
3. The brilliant acting.
Along the same lines, we have the actors' excellence to thank for the development of the characters because it's their portrayal of the characters that drives the show. I don’t know how the casting directors of this show cast these actors so perfectly, but I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing these characters. I very regularly forget that these people aren’t actually living in the middle of a zombie-ridden apocalyptic world.
4. The subtle, chilling symbolism.
The writers of this show have truly mastered the craft of symbolism. For the most part, when other TV shows attempt to deal with supernatural or fictional plots like this, they usually fail at being subtle about it. The writers of other shows will often attempt to do something symbolic through the use of different camera angles, special effects or certain music choices, but it’s almost always overwhelmingly obvious and plain. But the writers of "The Walking Dead" implement just enough symbolism in their script to provoke you to ask all sorts of interesting questions rather than have the deep thoughts shoved down your throat. You have to work to understand it, and it’s all the more rewarding because of it.
5. The artistic skill it demonstrates.
From an artistic standpoint, this show really displays some incredible talent. From the makeup used to make normal actors look like zombies, to the special effects used to create the dirty, gore-filled world they live in, this show is a serious masterpiece. The people who create the visual effects of this show must have thought very deliberately in considering how time and the natural elements would begin to affect the bodily fluids and functions of a zombie’s body, or in considering the best camera angle at which a certain scene should be shot. The artistic skill used to tell the story of this show is vital to the viewer’s full understanding of it.
6. The complex ethical messages.
Like I said earlier, this show is not just about a bunch of people running around killing different zombies. It’s about the human race adapting to an entirely new world that presents itself with different struggles than the previous one. With these struggles comes some really intense ethical questions about how to properly interact with other people, and how to properly discern which blood has the right to be shed. For example, in the most recent season, one of the main characters becomes pregnant — and it’s not by accident either. The second that people find out about her pregnancy, you witness each character react differently to the news. Ethical questions are asked, “Should we be bringing children into this dangerous and dark world right now? Are we trying to perpetuate the existence of the human race? And if not — if this world is too cruel to bring anyone else into it — what is the point of living in it now?” I’m continually blown away with how much this show makes me think about the value of human life and about what it truly even means to be a living human.
7. The intense religious questions.
It’s no accident that the writers of this show have communicated some really interesting messages about religion and the role of God in this messed up world. There’s a priest who questions his identity as a servant of God before eventually deciding to learn how to fight so he can help defend his people. There’s a woman who sharpens and uses a metal crucifix to break free from her bondages — a religious symbol used as a weapon which seems to transform her in the midst of her internal conflict. The writers are very clearly trying to convey some message(s) about God’s role in this world, even if it’s not always super obvious what it is they’re saying. It’s fascinating and difficult to watch these characters struggle with religious questions that all humans face in the midst of strife.