Wednesday, October 16, 2013

(Lost + Zombies)

Literally, that's The Walking Dead in a nutshell. It's Lost without the smoke monster, and instead of the Others there's zombies.But it's a similar tale of survival-at-any-cost with a group of total fucking morons.

No, really.My husband once commented that "The Walking Dead really teaches you the value of a college education," since very few of the characters have been to college and they are without a doubt the dumbest group of people ever to survive a zombie apocalypse.Which is not to say that the only smart people in the world are those who've been to college, (Daryl isn't very educated but he's the smartest and most perceptive of the group) but seriously, this group of people is, in the aggregate, dumber than a box of hair.I like some of them, and I thoroughly enjoy the show, but really, they could all use a crash course in "critical thinking" and "problem solving" along with "not being a goddamn idiot."

The basic premise of The Walking Dead is that there has been some sort of massive zombie outbreak and most of the world is dead and really hungry for brains.There is no more government or society to speak of, and the show follows a group of survivors as they scavenge for supplies and attempt to stay alive.Really, the premise itself is enough to make it an engaging show, although there are some really worrying displays of gender politics at work (and not in a "questioning how life would be" way, but in a "women are weak and incompetent" way).

Just a warning-- this will be *slightly* spoilery in that I will introduce characters from all 3 seasons.I won't mention who lives or dies (although the body count is pretty impressive) but I will bring up people you don't meet until 3 seasons in.

Rick, our resident Jack Shepherd.

He does this a lot.

Rick here is a good ol' southern boy sheriff deputy who got shot and put into a coma before zombies took over the world.He wakes up to devastation and goes in search of his family.Once he finds his wife and son he becomes the defacto leader of this ragtag group of idiots, mostly due to the impressive array of guns he collected from his old station.Like Jack, he's prone to dramatic shouting and changing his mind just because he's the leader, dammit.He starts off desperately trying to do the right thing, only to discover that in post-apocalyptic situations, the "right thing" and "staying alive" often clash.More often than not, he does the "right thing" and then a lot of people die, because Rick is an idiot.

Lori, who I guess is Kate if I keep up the Lost=Walking Dead analogy.

She's got brown hair and everyone hates her,

so it works.

UGH, LORI.It's not her fault.Really, it isn't.It's the fault of the writers of this show (and I think the comic book upon which it's based) and their 1950s conceptions of gender.Lori is Rick's wife, and is alternately a shrewish harridan and a weak-willed woman, and no matter what she wants to do she is always wrong.It's like she was created to nag Rick into making terrible choices, and she vacillates between "do anything to stay alive" and "keep your sense of morality," depending on what is in direct opposition to Rick's decisions that week.Oh, and she's been having an affair with his old partner, because she thought Rick was dead.So there's that too.

Carl, who would be...Walt?I guess?

If Walt was a burgeoning sociopath.

Carl is Rick and Lori's son, and he doesn't have much to do at the beginning except be a kid who eventually develops frighteningly good aim and whose conscience seems to be eroding more quickly than Rick and Lori's marriage.He doesn't add much to the story, but I bring him up because there's a moment involving him that demonstrates the most pernicious element of post-apocalyptic gender roles in the whole damn series.Rick is going...somewhere (I forget where and it's not important) and he tells Carl, who is maybe ten at this point, to "keep his mother safe."Now, this isn't too strange, as it's a pretty common thing for macho-man fathers to charge the son with being "head of the household" in his absence.Usually, this is just a saying, and the kid isn't ACTUALLY IN CHARGE.But with Rick and Lori, THE TEN YEAR OLD IS LITERALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING HIS MOTHER ALIVE.Lori is an able-bodied (and quite athletic-looking) woman in her early 30s.Carl is a 10 year old boy who appears to be 4 feet tall.BUT CARL IS THE ONE WITH THE GUN AND LORI LETS HIM TAKE POINT WHEN BROACHING A POSSIBLE ZOMBIE LAIR.On what planet does that make sense?Who let these morons have kids? (Especially since this is before Carl develops superhuman sniper capabilities.)To make matters worse, this is not a moment that is examined in any real way, either to make a point about Carl having to grow up too fast or about the expectations of gender roles in the absence of modern society.No, it's just assumed that because Carl has an XY chromosome he is automatically more competent than Lori, who has an XX chromosome but is an actual goddamn adult.

Daryl, who really is Sawyer, down to the shady-past-but-heart-of-gold characterization and the penchant for racist nicknames.

I love Daryl, which my husband pointed out is probably because

I grew up with an awful lot of rednecks.He's not wrong.

Daryl really is the saving grace of the show.Daryl is the guy who, if faced with a zombie apocalypse, I would want on my side.Daryl is a decent guy who doesn't give a shit about doing the right thing, unlike Rick and his stupid tortured conscience.He's a redneck who's excellent with a crossbow and a superb hunter and tracker.His tough, doesn't-give-a-fuck exterior hides a total softie, though, and throughout the series you're given hints that his childhood was very abusive and his rough attitude developed as a way of surviving.Daryl is the sort of man that thrives in the midst of the apocalypse, and he's hands down the best character on the show.(His relationship with his brother Merle is very interestingly paralleled with an abusive marriage, suggesting that a large part of his tough-guy persona was developed to please his terrible-awful big brother, as well as escape his father's abuse.)Daryl needs a hug, is what I'm saying.

Glenn, who would be Sayyid in this scenario because I want to marry them both.

Seriously.He's adorable.

Glenn is my favorite character, partly because he's a genuinely good person and partly because he's usually the least-stupid of the group.He's a bit of a follower, but he's smart (and funny, as evidenced by when he helps Rick out in the first few episodes) and resourceful.He doesn't have a "skill" per se, like Rick with his guns or Daryl with his hunting, but he's a fast runner and can think on his feet.He eventually gets a love interest, which is pretty rare for Asian men on TV, so yay Glenn!

The Governor is Ben, being both evil and incredibly punchable.

Just in case you couldn't tell he was evil,

they gave him an eyepatch.

The Governor is the main villain of season 3 (the first two seasons are content to have the zombies be the villain.They do eat people, after all).The Governor is CREEPY, even more so once he needs the eyepatch.Like Ben on Lost, the Governor is very much a "do whatever it takes" sort of leader, although Ben never quite hits the levels of being "totally and completely unhinged" that the Governor does.

Andrea, who doesn't really have any clear Lost parallels.

If there's any character more hated by fans than Lori,

it's Andrea.

Much like Lori, UGH ANDREA.When faced with a set of choices, you can be guaranteed she will make the worst possible one.Granted, sometimes she really doesn't have all the information she needs to NOT make a poor decision (hint hint, Michonne and your stupid "don't answer direct questions ever" attitude), but most of the time she does and she's just an idiot about it.Seriously, this show and women is incredibly problematic.

Michonne, who would be....Danielle? Whatever, this analogy has totally fallen apart.

10,000 badass points for the katana, though.

Unlike Andrea and Lori, Michonne at least isn't prone to being a nag and/or shrew.However, roughly 75% of her time is spent withholding important information for NO DISCERNABLE REASON.I think the writers were going for "mysterious and inscrutable" but instead she comes across as "petulant and irrational."Michonne is the most comic book-ish character of them all, what with her katana and pet zombies and overall badassness.Unfortunately, I spend most of my time yelling OPEN YOUR DAMN MOUTH, rather than marveling at her awesomeness.

Shane, who also lacks a Lost parallel.

Clearly the face of a stable individual who makes good life choices.

Shane was a sheriff deputy along with Rick pre-apocalypse.He thinks Rick died in the hospital once the zombies appeared, and naturally deals with this by immediately starting to have sex with Rick's wife.Shane's kind of a dick, basically.

There's a billion other characters too, like Carol and Maggie (who are pretty great, and generally semi-competent) and T-Dawg, who is the resident black guy and who has no personality other than "black guy."Overall I like the show, but really, they need a crash course on portrayals of women.

VERDICT: Occasionally awesome and mostly engrossing, but with some serious problems with women.
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