The Dead do more than walk. They draw big numbers. Why is everyone surprised?

November 19, 2010


Mr. Popularity!

AdAge, Entertainment Weekly and countless other pubs are running stories on how surprised everyone is about the success of TV show, The Walking Dead. Even the reporters who wrote the stories are amazed.

Really? Hell, I saw this hit shambling up Broadway in spring, when it was first reported in production. With Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) and AMC (Mad Men) behind it, how could The Walking Dead miss?

The surprised ones keep pointing to the show’s characters and their struggle to survive as the reason for TWD’s success. They want to make it clear it’s not the bloody disgusting zombies, God forbid, that are pulling viewers in. Stop it! Of course you need to care about the characters. Otherwise you wouldn’t be frightened by the thought of said characters getting eaten and, better yet, turning into bloody disgusting ghouls themselves.

Don’t kid yourselves. It’s not only the ‘living’ that are interesting. They’re just food. It’s the dead. Put zombies on Gilligan’s Island and it’s gonna fucking work.

Why the insecurity around horror’s popularity? The mainstream treats it like pornography, denying its presence during the day yet wallowing in it at night.

Horror rules. Look at the success of True Blood, already in its 4th season. Granted, the show has a sexy cast and vampires have always been a dark turn-on. But still, compared to sissy shit like Twilight, True Blood has some serious bight. If it didn’t deliver the gore I wouldn’t watch. Lots of people wouldn’t.

Forget bloodsuckers, anyway. Zombies are the new vampires. What took them so long to get on TV? If we had to endure another clique of brooding poseurs pining over unrequited love I’d impale a wooden stake in my heart.

There is ample precedent for TWD’s success everywhere in popular culture. Before he directed SlumDog Millionaire, Danny Boyle helmed 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. His hyper zombies killed at the box office. And deservedly so. Fact is ever since George Romero created the genre with his nightmare inducing Night of the Living Dead, the undead have been the gruesome princes of filmdom, helping to make horror the most consistently profitable genre in Hollywood. As for books, Oprah Winfrey chose Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian novel, The Road to be on her book club! (Okay, so the antagonists were cannibals not zombies. But it was Oprah Goddamn Winfrey!)

And yet we’re still surprised? Come on, people look alive. The Dead walk!

Thread for fans of The Walking Dead: Roamers and Lurkers

Site that broke news (for me) on The Walking Dead:28 Days Later Analysis

One Response to “The Dead do more than walk. They draw big numbers. Why is everyone surprised?”

  1. librarian anne said

    The dead–or undead– have been part of nearly all cultures since forever. The pornographic reference is a bit simplistic. Fear of death, loss of loved ones and fear they haven’t found peace….The shadows and netherworld are classic cultural themes. Perhaps even the imaginations of the guilty who have offended, or even killed, those who are dead, and the lack of peace in life the survivors may experience.
    Vampires, zombies, the fears of those who live about those thought dead…..a very human experience.
    Monetized in big and little screens; no surprises here.

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