Affinity for walking corpses raises questions of humanity

My aversion to scary movies is no secret. I shed real tears after watching the first “Paranormal Activity” movie, which is supposed to be the least terrifying of them all – something my friends don’t let me forget.

This hatred of all things horror apparently doesn’t carry over to TV shows, though, because this weekend I spent the majority of my time watching every episode of AMC’s original series, “The Walking Dead.” I got the first season from the library and watched pirated versions of the rest – sorry, SOPA supporters.

I know I’m a little late on the scene, but I never wasted my time before because I didn’t really think I’d find fulfillment in the mutilation of undead corpses who, when they aren’t getting their skulls bashed in, wander around in search of human flesh to sink their rotting teeth into.

Oddly enough, after the first episode, I was hooked. There are few things better than watching a zombie take a shot to the eye or an ax across the jaw.

But the real gratification I get from watching the show comes from the spot-on character development and the dense plot. It’s not just a slasher show; it’s a lot more than that. It’s definitely pretty graphic, but I’m not so much disturbed by that as I am by the thought of the world ending in a zombie apocalypse and how a human being can even find the will to live in a situation like that.

I find that this is a good kind of disturbed, if there is such a thing, because it makes me think. It raises questions about human nature, and whether humanity can survive in the face of it. And I don’t mean humanity as in the human race, I mean compassion and civility. Is there a point to treating others humanely when it’s survival of the fittest? Most of the characters, my favorite characters, seem to think so.

The portrayal of the world being overrun by diseased zombies is raw and frank, like I imagine it would be in real life. It’s not overdone or glorified. The show doesn’t use creepy music as a dime-store means of foreshadowing or half-naked, dime-store actresses to get the point across.

It’s obviously – well, hopefully – an impossible scenario, but the way the characters interact and deal with these gruesome conditions seems realistic. Each character is different and has his or her own back-story and way of dealing with the emotions that come along with watching the world tear itself apart.

I was first drawn in by Rick, the leader of the group. At first it seemed like he would be a stereotypical, holier-than-thou type who faces every challenge with his sheriff’s hat and white-toothed smile, but he’s not. He’s just as flawed as any of the others, and the pressure of being responsible for not only his own family but the entire group clearly takes a toll on him.

My favorite is Daryl – played by Norman Reedus of the “Boondock Saints” – a wounded, crossbow-wielding, self-proclaimed badass with a sensitive side. He’s survived countless zombie attacks, a fall from a cliff, being shot in the face…there’s really nothing this guy can’t do. If he actually, by some lapse in the writers’ judgment, gets killed, I may have to swear off the show forever.

Actually, that’s a lie. I just need to find out where they do casting calls for extras.


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