Zombies: A Self-Limiting Phenomenon?

How long can she last in the summertime?  In GEORGIA?

AMC’s The Walking Dead

So during vacation my better half, Donna, got me to catch up on a TV show called The Walking Dead. I’d heard good things about it and I’m a big fan of certain zombie movies, especially Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. So I watched, but by episode two of the first season, I was getting frustrated.

For starters, this Zombie-pocalypse has been going on for awhile in the heat of a Georgia summer. They are not supernatural zombies, just infected humans. They’re not completely dead (they’re eating) but they’re incapable of healing and shown in various states of decay. So — they should all be reduced to molars and femurs by now.  Sorry.

But putting that aside, there are other frustrations. I can’t remember the last time I saw a TV show so nakedly crying out for the application of the The Bechdel Test.

The test is named for Alison Bechdel, a comic strip writer and artist.  In order to pass, the show must meet the following criteria:

  1. it includes at least two women
  2. who have at least one conversation
  3. about something other than a man or men.

Most episodes of The Walking Dead fail this test.  Lori only cares about three things: her husband Rick, her former lover Shane, and her son Carl.  Andrea only cares about her sister (a plus!) but when she and her sister get together to fish, their conversation is about how much they miss their father.  Carol’s season one subplot is her abusive husband.  Really?  Domestic abuse is still a problem when every day is a literal fight to keep from being eaten?  Honey, he has to sleep sometime.  And you’re down by the creek washing his clothes with a rock?  And when another female questions this — the women being relegated to washing clothes — the response is, “That’s just the way it is.”


“Don’t Look At Me, I’m A Girl”

Now for anyone who doesn’t know me in real life, I am a wuss.  I don’t hunt or fish.  I am not an outdoor type.  I am a pasty writer who’s most comfortable indoors and once jumped out of a swimming pool screaming because a frog got in, and I didn’t want it to “touch me with its little froggy hands.”


My desire to eat far outweighs my generalized wussiness.  When the character Shane offers to teach the boy Carl to catch frogs for dinner, Lori says, “Don’t look at me, I’m a girl.”  Later she physically shrinks from the fish caught by Andrea.  Really?  So girly you’re afraid of fresh fish?  When you’ve been subsisting on roots and berries for heaven knows how long?

The only worthwhile character, Daryl Dixon

So All the Male Characters Must Be Slam-Dunks, Right?

No.  Rick, the lead, is so bland and boring.  He’s Mr. Goody Two-Shoes.  Shane is fairly interesting, but his (spoiler!) shocking murder of Otis the Heroic Fat Man has shaken my support of him.  He might come back from it, but I don’t know.  That was pretty lowdown.  T-Dog has no particular persona and Glenn, who initially struck me as interesting, doesn’t get to do much either.  Thank goodness for Daryl.  He’s smart, funny, practical, believable, and has an interesting backstory. 

One of these days I’ll write my own zombie story, if I can work out the logistics.  One thing is for sure: only interesting people will survive in my Zombie-pocalypse.  And any women stupid enough to wash their men’s clothes in the creek with rocks, while Eddie Bauer stores stand unguarded with crank-washing machines designed for campers, will be eaten alive.

5 thoughts on “Zombies: A Self-Limiting Phenomenon?

  1. Oh, I love this post. Mostly, cuz I love Daryl and any props he gets makes me happy, Plus, everything you've said makes perfect sense and I agree with your assessment of the other characters.

  2. I have not seen The Walking Dead. This is not any sort of statement, but sometimes if I miss the beginning of something I never catch up, because I am the one person in the modern civilized world who does not have a DVR. I would be all for trying it, maybe if I can ever afford to turn my Netflix back on again. However, I now wonder a little, because of this review. I am not a militant feminist, but modern weaponry as made "I'm just a girl" at least somewhat obsolete. However, Norman Reedus trumps all other considerations, especially as you have praised his character as well.

  3. I agree with everything Steph said about this show, but I still love to watch it! Also, she's not kidding about the frog in the pool touching her with it's "froggy little hands". I should know because she made me go in and get it!

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