Stop Watching The Walking Dead, Go Watch Stranger Things

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Is anyone still watching AMC's The Walking Dead? If your answer is ‘yes,’ then you’re wasting your time. The Walking Dead is currently airing its eighth season and it’s deader than the zombies it features. The poor character development, weak and sometimes laughable acting, awkward dialogue and painfully slow episodes make the show a wasted effort. Seriously, you’re better off watching Stranger Things, which just released its second season on Netflix and offers stellar acting, plotting and characterization. If you’ve already finished season two, good for you. I’ll review season two of Stranger Things next time.

Sadly, I’m here to talk about The Walking Dead and why, after watching faithfully for years, I’ve finally called it quits. I have a complex relationship with AMC’s The Walking Dead. I feel like the show is like an old flame who has changed for the worse. It’s not me, The Walking Dead, it’s you. I should have seen the break-up coming, but I foolishly clung to the show like a dependent partner in an abusive relationship. Here are the five reasons The Walking Dead is dead to me.

It’s afraid to take plot risks.

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The show has strayed from the comics so much that certain characters, Carol and Morgan, mostly, are no longer identifiable as their comic counterparts. However, I think that has been in the show’s favor. Carol, who was once a timid and abused housewife, has blossomed into a smart, assertive and motherly figure with deadpan line delivery. Morgan is interesting because of his pacifism in the zombie apocalypse. These characters are different enough that they could and, in this critic’s opinion, should be the focus of the show. Their opposite philosophies on life are interesting enough to carry the show. Instead, their potential is squandered by focus on main characters Rick, Negan and Maggie. This is asking a lot given the show is based off a comic book, but the show has strayed enough from the comic's plot in the past that I think it’s time to abandon it altogether.

The main characters are stale.

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I’m tired of the show’s abysmal character development and expansive cast. Episodes would go by without me seeing Michonne, Morgan, Carol, Tara, and Ezekiel (gotta love that pet tiger), who are all interesting on their own. Characters like Carl, whose hairdo is so stupid it resembles a bad wig, Sasha, Maggie, Eugene and Rosita aren’t compelling and should be left in the dust. I nearly forgot about Rosita. After three seasons and limited character development, she’s still a stranger. Even fan-favorite Daryl has grown stale to me. After forgoing a season seven episode focusing on him, I realized I don’t care about most the characters on the show.

Characters I love, like Carol, are instead shoved into the background.  Carol’s regression from confident survivor who kills to protect her loved ones to hesitant, pacifistic survivor could have been interesting if it had been fleshed out. However, her arc was so rushed it’s insulting to her character. Seriously, if the writers are just going to shove her into the background again when she’s so captivating, just kill her off. Her talent is being wasted here. I’m not kidding: I would watch a show where Carol’s actress, Melissa McBride, plays the lead. Her acting is that good. She’s funny, intimidating, smart and clever. McBride deserves an Emmy and so does Lennie James, who plays Morgan. What a waste.

Instead, Rick remains the protagonist, but his fearless leader shtick has run its course. Besides, he is such a morally ambiguous character at this point it’s hard to believe he still has followers. He’s a murderer, so what’s stopping him from murdering his own people?  This should be an interesting character angle for Rick, but the show constantly introduces villains like Negan to make Rick appear the good guy. We don’t need villains like Negan to stir the pot. These characters can do it on their own.

Negan is still alive.

Negan is awful and has no redeeming character qualities. Jeffery Dean Morgan, his actor, is so over-the-top, it’s offensive. His dialogue sounds like an annoying playground bully who just discovered swears. We’ve already had the domineering, abusive villain on the show as the Governor. Negan is just repeating that plotline. It’s been done. Moving on.

Rick should have become the villain.

In season five, Rick’s group met the cannibals from Terminus. For the first time, the show’s writers introduced a fascinating new angle to the show: Rick’s group, if left unchecked, could become as bad as or worse than the people of Terminus. This is an interesting angle! What’s stopping them from becoming evil? They even had Father Gabriel ranting that Rick’s group was evil after killing the Termites. By the end of season five, Rick was going insane after being made sheriff of Alexandria. Michonne, whom I love, had to step in and knock Rick out with a brick to the head so he wouldn’t kill the town doctor, Pete. Season five ended with Rick killing Pete, which should have, logically, would up with him becoming the new, authoritarian leader of the once-peaceful Alexandria. What if Rick had gone bad, a la Walter White from Breaking Bad? That would have been so interesting! Michonne could have become the new protagonist if she were morally opposed to Rick. I would watch the show if she were the new lead. God, what wasted potential.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of Negan I feel like Rick’s motivation has become lost. I have no idea who he is as a character anymore. Why hasn’t he snapped yet with all the pressure of being the leader in the zombie apocalypse? What makes him such a great leader that his group still has their humanity? What makes him so different from Negan? These are all compelling questions, but I’ve grown so tired of the show skirting around them and leaving them forgotten in favor of Negan making another stupid speech that frankly I don’t care.

The meta-humor of season five is long gone.

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Season five introduced something the show had never had before: social commentary and humor. When Rick’s group joins the community of Alexandria, the characters we’ve been following for five seasons were suddenly the outsiders. Wow! All of a sudden, they were interesting. Carol got to resume the timid persona she had outgrown, but this time it was just an act to gain the trust of the Alexandrians. She had become a cold-blooded killer to survive and protect her friends, losing part of her humanity in the process, and it was fascinating watching her play her old self again. When Rick’s group had to surrender their weapons upon checking in to Alexandria, I laughed out loud when the spindly Carol laid a machine gun on the table. Melissa McBride is a treasure.Sadly, I haven’t laughed out loud watching the show for several seasons. 

Goodbye, TWD. It was fun, but now it’s just a chore keeping up with you. I wish you the best.