AMC struck gold when Robert Kirkman agreed to an adaptation of his famous comic book, The Walking Dead. It’s not only one of the highest rated shows of all time, but also marked a rebirth of the zombie genre. Despite its success, one can’t help but notice the storylines that the writers choose to go with. Referred to by the godfather of zombie movies, George Romero, as “a soap opera with a zombie occasionally,” The Walking Dead doesn’t focus much on the famous monster.
Despite being set in a zombie apocalypse, the show is primarily centered on a group of survivors and their personal drama. While that is not a bad thing at all, the writers tend to make the situations a tad over the top. In six seasons, there have been love triangles, cartoonish villains, and characters brought back to life in ridiculous ways. These “soap opera” tropes were fun to watch at first, but have become predictable and overpowering as the show has progressed.
Here are the 10 Reasons The Walking Dead Is A Soap Opera.
And a warning for those of you who aren’t caught up on all six seasons, there will be SPOILERS.
10. Teenage Angst
We’ve always yelled at Carl to stay in the house, but thankfully he hasn’t been as unbearable since he’s hit puberty. After saving his dad and surviving solely onpudding, he seems to have gotten less annoying, but now there are two more teenagers to groan and yell at: Ron and Enid. Enid is a wanderer who was brought into Alexandria after her parents were killed by walkers. She keeps to herself and makes it painfully obvious that she has something hide. That “secret” has made her snap at anyone that tries to talk her. The whole “you don’t understand” conversation always comes into play.
Ron is a show-off who doesn’t quite realize that there is a zombie apocalypse going on, and gets jealous whenever Carl comforts or saves Enid. This has lead to him asking Rick for lessons on how to shoot a gun. That “bonding time” may lead to him eventually using it on Carl. Who will wear the cowboy hat after that confrontation?
9. The Mysterious Bad Boy
Daryl is a man of few words. With hair covering most of his face, he speaks through long, tantalizing looks and inaudible grumbles. His stunning looks and mysterious back story make him intriguing to fans and has them rooting every time he wields his crossbow. This fascination seems to have made him immune to death, and even sparked a t-shirt stating, “If Daryl dies, we riot.”
Even though he rarely has an episode to himself, he is considered to be one of the show’s front-runners. Most of the merchandise features him, varying from mugs, blankets, and even two video games. And if that wasn’t enough, the actor, Norman Reedus, will even be getting his own mini reality series about motorcycle culture in early 2016.
8. Rick and Jessie’s Romance
Nothing says “I love you” more than murdering your spouse in cold blood. Since her introduction, Jessie seemed like nothing more than a love interest for Rick. She hasn’t added anything to the plot besides sexual tension and annoying children. When Rick and the gang found Alexandria, she was married to the town doctor… who also happened to be an abusive drunk to their family.
Simply through some small talk and long gazes, Rick realized that he may have feelings for Jessie. When he shoots her husband in the head after a fight, Rick thinks it would be a perfect time to finally make his move. The spontaneous passionate makeout session afterward seemed to signify that he was right. So far, Jessie hasn’t accomplished much except for killing one raider and making a small speech to the Alexandrians. Hopefully there will be more to her rather than just being a replacement for Lori.
7. The Moral Person
Rick will do anything to survive and protect his family if it means killing humans or taking over their settlements. It starts to change his personality and give him a bleak view on the new life he has to endure. In order to balance that nihilism, there is always at least one person with good morals each season. They saw the positive things in life and even tried to bring more optimism.
Unfortunately, as soon as a character showed their “purity”, it guaranteed their death sometime in the future. And it’s not even like they have a flawed personality. They’re always consistently good, which makes it easier to predict who will get the bite. It’s like the gang has a single spot for a “good person” and they find someone new to refill it every season or so. It’s not clear whether that’s some sort of symbolism that the writers are trying to instill, but it sure doesn’t leave any room for surprise.
6. Lori’s Pregnancy
One of the biggest soap opera moments was Lori’s pregnancy in the seasons 2 and 3. At first, when she didn’t want the child, She risked people’s lives so she could obtain abortion pills but backed out at the last second. And to top it all off, the father’s identity is at question. Is it Shane, who she had been romantically involved with a while? Or is it Rick, her husband that came back from the dead? The question still hasn’t been answered.
Then when she’s going into labor, her son has to cut her open to save the baby, ending her life in the process. After Carl comes out with only the baby, it sparks one of the most mocked scenes in the series: Rick crying hysterically and yelling “No, No No!” over and over again. The memes and videos inspired by the iconic show made it hard to take seriously.
5. Morgan’s 90 Minute Episode
One of the most asked questions in The Walking Dead is, “What happened to Morgan?” In the pilot, he and his son, Duane, save Rick from a group of walkers and fill him in on what the world has turned into while he was in his coma. Despite him only being around for a couple of episodes, he quickly became a fan favorite. When he came to Alexandria in this most recent season, he preached an “all life is precious” belief and used only a stick to and his words to fight his enemies.
After Glenn’s “tragic death”, the next episode was a 90 minute recap of what Morgan has been up to this whole time. After spending his time killing and stealing, Morgan is captured by Eastman, a peaceful individual who thinks all life is precious (even after a serial killer murdered his family). He then proceeds to teach him the art of Aikido, which he adopts as his new way of attacking. It’s understandable if this was just a standard filler episode, but there was no reason that this had to be any longer than that. It seems that the writers wanted to make up for lost time with him and the fans, but went overboard. They really took the time to shove the “no kill” ideology down our throats, making it boring and somewhat repetitive. The length made the episode feel slow and didn’t reveal anything that needed an extra half hour to explain. After Glenn’s death the week before, it felt like a huge slap in the face.
4. The Lori, Rick, and Shane Love Triangle
Season 1 didn’t beat around the bush when it came to the melodrama. While Rick is assumed dead, his wife, Lori, gets romantically involved with his best friend Shane. Once he comes back from the dead, Lori goes back to her husband leaving Shane with his tail between his legs. This leads to cringing tension between all three, even though Rick has no idea about the two of them until much later on.
Despite Lori having her family back together, Shane still attempts to get Lori back. She thinks of it as cheating and betrayal, while he emphasizes that it wasn’t their fault. They were only human, after all. However, his persuasion goes out the window when his drunken attempts at “seduction” turn into full-on assault. This obsession would lead to Rick and Shane’s face-off, which ends in Shane’s death. For the first two seasons, the constant focus on this love triangle drove away the other elements of the show, making the other characters feel minor and in the way.
3. Cartoonish Villains
Settlements are supposed to be a better alternative to surviving in the woods. However, Woodbury and Terminus seem to prove that they both thrive on their mentally unstable leaders. Woodbury seemed like a paradise at the time with clean beds and plenty of food, but Philip Blake (nicknamed the Governor) proved to be a cruel, tyrannical leader. Unbeknownst to his followers, he would torture and execute groups for their supplies. Regardless, he’s able to get the whole community to trust him and call him their savior. However, the goofy eyepatch and the walker daughter in the closet don’t seem to signify a nice guy.
Now Terminus doesn’t have the same ambiance as Woodbury ( its residence in a warehouse doesn’t give it that homely touch) but it’s considered “sanctuary” for all who come. However, when the group gets captured and held hostage, they realize it’s anything but. In fact, in ways, it’s worse than Woodbury because it’s raised with beliefs in cannibalism. They feed their visitors human flesh and then kill them shortly after to begin the cycle all over again.
2. Character Development Equals Death
Other than a few main characters, character development is rare in the show. Most of the gang has stayed pretty much the same for the duration of the show except for a few key moments here and there. The reason is most likely because anytime a character has a significant epiphany or change, they die that same episode. This tiresome trope comes in all different types but is usually done in the form of self sacrifice.
The most recent example was Noah in season 6. He turned from a background character into someone who wanted to help rebuild Alexandria into something great. By the end of the episode, he was brutally ripped apart by walkers—flushing any development down the toilet. It makes the character feel merely like a plot device that is used until that storyline is over. They don’t use any of those characters to their full potential.
1. Bringing Characters Back to Life
The writers have no problem with killing off minor characters such as Bob, Beth, and T-Dog, but when it comes to the big characters, they seem to be too scared. Season 6 introduced a scary concept to the viewers: there’s a possibility that not everyone is immortal. When they killed off Glenn in episode 3, it not only sparked shock but outrage as well. Executive producer Scott Gimple had to send out an apology saying that Glenn will be seen again in some way. It conjured dozens of theories on how he survived that zombie mob that seemingly tore him apart.
And lo and behold, two episodes later we see Glenn surviving by fighting his way under the dumpster and hiding until the mob went away. This blatant cop-out showed the audience that bigger characters really are immortal and that there are no more surprises when it comes to character deaths. The writers could learn something from Game of Thrones.
Any other reasons The Walking Dead is like a soap opera? Let us know in the comments!
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