Elevate Difference

The Walking Dead

Like any good geek, I love me some zombies. So, of course I tuned into AMC’s new zombie show, The Walking Dead. And I found myself disappointed.

The show starts with our hero, Rick, and his misogynistic partner, Shane, talking about how women and men are different. This conversations seems to function solely to tell us that Shane is a bit of a prick, Rick is a genuinely good guy (which I didn’t really buy), and Lori, Rick’s wife, is a bitch. Basically, it took about ten minutes for me to realize I was probably going to blog about this show, and not in a good way.

The dudes, who are police officers, get into a shootout. Rick is shot, and we see Shane bringing him flowers in the hospital. (He assures us that he didn’t pick them out himself, however. That’s for sissy ladies. And he’s not gay or anything gross.) Rick wakes up, the flowers are dead, and the hospital is full of corpses and ruin.

I did like the set up here; Rick has no fucking clue what it going on, and he’s still injured, so he basically cowers home, where he discovers his empty house. He runs into Morgan and his young son, Duane. Their family was heading to the refugee camp in Atlanta when Morgan’s wife became infected and got all zombified. She still hangs about, and they can’t leave with her haunting them. Morgan wants to “put her down” and even attempts to in this episode, but he can’t. 

Anyway, Rick and Morgan arm themselves, keep open a line of communication, and Rick sets off for Atlanta. We find out that Lori and Carl are with Shane (and Lori is with Shane) outside of the city, because it’s been overrun with zombies. Rick runs into the city on a horse (looking straight out of a video game), gets his horse eaten by zombies, and takes an incredible amount of time to seal himself up in a tank. (Seriously, this guy must have the lowest amount of adrenaline ever present in a human being. He moves like molasses.) In case you missed it, he’s a goddamn cowboy.

So far, I liked the story okay, and it seems promising for the character development of the people the show seems to want us to care about. Unfortunately, none of those characters are ladies, who exist in this pilot for the sole purpose of helping to advance the dudes’ development. Morgan’s wife is in the refrigerator, and the only reason we even care about her is that Morgan and Duane are all traumatized by this. She gets a lot of face time in this episode because we’re supposed to see her (rather pretty for a zombie) face through Morgan’s eyes.

The only other lady with a name is Lori, who gets very little screen time, and most of that is devoted to kissing Shane (presumably so we can see how whore-y she is since she got over her husband faster than it took him to heal from a gunshot wound). Perhaps I’m being too harsh on the writers here; they may not want us to judge her so quickly. But it’s difficult to tell since we were already told in the beginning of the episode that she’s a bitch, and she doesn’t ever get a side in that conversation, because she doesn’t actually matter.

This episode failed the Bechdel test hard, despite being an hour and a half long. But I think this show could get better. According to the cast of characters, there are some women (though significantly fewer than men) playing parts in the show later. It's possible, then, that they will get some personalities and plot lines not connected to their dudes and romantic relationships. But I was really disappointed by the premiere and am not feeling particularly optimistic.

Attention The Walking Dead writers: women are not plot devices. And we don’t like watching shows that don’t think women matter as characters. Fix it.

Cross-posted at Geek Feminism

Written by: Courtney Stoker, November 8th 2010

I see you've not read the comic series His wife? Not really a bitch. In fact they grow closer(er) as the story goes on. Women being plot devices? Half of the main characters later on are women and at least two of them kick more ass than ANY of the male leads. Don't judge the show based on TWO episodes, if it follows the comic, it'll get FAR better, trust me. Oh, and I advise you don't get too attached to the characters...ANY OF THEM...EVER REALLY. The writers kill people off like nothing. Doesn't matter if you're a main character or not, if you breathe, you can get screwed over big time.

I bought the first two graphic novels on a whim at an airport a few years back, and found them to be pretty much boring, misogynistic tripe. I am very surprised to hear (from a commentor) that the women in the story have some depth to them later on (but not encouraged enough to read the rest of 'em).

I have a little bit of optimism for the show being different than the books I read--I didn't like the True Blood books, either, but the show is pretty darn good. Still, a few more scenes about how women don't know how to turn off the lights, followed by scenes of (only) men running around killing zombies will get boring pretty fast for me.

Just wait until Angela picks up a gun and starts sharpshooting, Glenn meets Maggie and Michonne shows up with her sword. Just three WICKED strong female characters to name a few. Your ideas about the story being misogynistic will vanish. Oh, and about the series compared to the comic, there are some big differences when you compare the two. Personally, I hope they follow the original story line more closely with the next season.

Just wait until Angela picks up a gun and starts sharpshooting, Glenn meets Maggie and Michonne shows up with her sword. Just three WICKED strong female characters to name a few. Your ideas about the story being misogynistic will vanish. Oh, and about the series compared to the comic, there are some big differences when you compare the two. Personally, I hope they follow the original story line more closely with the next season.

Sorry, hit the submit button twice on accident.

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