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08 April 2015 @ 04:23 pm
The Walking Dead  
 So, I've been marathoning this show. I should preface this post by saying that horror is not my genre. When I was seven, my then-babysitter let me watch The Amityville Horror, which gave me nightmares. And after that, my childhood best friend and her family were huge horror buffs, and constantly rented everything from the Friday the 13th series of films, to Poltergeist, to whatever was popular at the time (unbeknownst to my parents). I can remember having nightmares about Poltergeist, too. I didn't want to be uncool in front of my friend and her family, so I watched these movies and hid my head inside my sleeping bag at the parts that were too scary for me. How old was I? Probably between 7 and 14 years old. Like many kids who are avid readers who grow up to play RPGs and write stories themselves, I had a vivid imagination. I was really good at taking the things I saw, and scaring the bejeezus out of myself with my own imaginings.

Anyway, fast forward to adulthood, and I don't watch horror movies. I never really analyzed why until recently. It was just an instant "no". When pressed, I would say I don't like being scared, and this is true. I'm not a fan of movies that make you jump. I'm even less of a fan of gratuitous gore and violence, like the Saw movies, for example. I just see no reason for those to exist, beyond carrying out someone's really sick fantasies. So, for several years now, practically everyone I know has been watching this show, and saying how awesome it is, and being absolutely floored when I say I don't watch it. 

Recently, some friends of mine got into American Horror Story. They told me how good it is, and knowing my preferences, told me I should try it anyway and see if it was something I could watch, because it is just that good. Needing something to watch while working out, I gave it a shot. I did not make it past the first episode. 

I don't know why this failed attempt led me to The Walking Dead, but it did. I was scrolling for another show to watch, and thought "WTH, I tried the other one, everyone says this one is so good, I'll try it, too." And I did. The first episode was a little slow, but the characters were intriguing. I did look away from the screen a few times during gratuitous ickiness, but I went ahead and queued up episode 2, and then 3. Sometimes, when the camera lingered too long on someone trying to make their way safely through a herd of zombies, I would fast forward, because that kind of suspense drawn out too long gives me an uncomfortable level of anxiety. But I kept watching. And the longer I watched, the more I had to know what was happening with these characters.

The upshot is, I have binge watched three and a half seasons in approximately a week. I don't know why I am able to watch this show when I couldn't watch AHS. I will say that sometimes, it makes me feel physically ill, and sometimes I have to look away and cover my ears. There have been a couple of almost-nightmares, and times when I thought I might have to step away. But I am still engaged, still want to know what is happening with these characters (Daryl, you are my favorite, although Carol is right up there.) 

However, I have discovered another issue with this show that has little to do with the genre. Perhaps this is something that is noticeable only because I am literally watching whole seasons back to back. But this show, like Game of Thrones, is depressing as hell. I am all for torturing characters and putting them through the most difficult shit possible. It makes for great development and story movement. That being said, it helps if there IS a character arc beyond simple survival, and it helps if there are moments of levity to lighten the tone and give everyone something to live for. TWD has these, but they are precious few and far between, and always, always immediately eclipsed by something so horrible, you forget there was ever a glimpse of happiness.

In the first season, when they get to the CDC and then realize the guy has locked them all in to die a fiery death together, and people are arguing about living or dying, I didn't agree with those who chose to remain behind. Like, seriously? Fight to live, people! But now? I am wondering what there is to live for. Seriously. There appears to be no chance at all for humanity. There are just more and more walkers, no matter how many they kill. No place is safe, no matter how much it might seem to be, with walls and weapons and everything. If the walkers don't kill you, the other people for sure will. In fact, the other people are worse, usually. Anyone you make the mistake of caring about dies, usually horribly, with few exceptions. The remaining survivors are so apt to kill you, you can't risk trusting anyone, or stopping for random hitchhikers who are literally begging for help. This is a world where even the most innocent characters become utterly jaded. As much as I want to know who will ultimately survive the zombie apocalypse, there has to be more to a story to make a show truly great. We should know things like, what started it? How? Why? Is there any hope of a cure, at all? It would seem not. Our characters can't even get their bearings long enough to find out. Anytime they get a little peace and hope, something new and worse happens to them, inevitably killing off someone we have become attached to and traumatizing everyone else further.

Then there is the ridiculous way the show stacks the odds against them. For example, the walkers/biters/zombies do nothing but shuffle slowly and make a bunch of noise anytime they are on screen, except when twenty of them decide to pop up out of nowhere to instantly surround our heroes in the middle of an open meadow or road. It's really kind of ridiculous.

I honestly don't know if I am going to keep watching. I need something, some small glimmer of hope for the future to invest in, and after almost four seasons, there is none. I understand from the comics people think an uber-villain is being cast for season 6, one who will make everything to come before seem like a trip through story book land. I don't know that I can stomach that, I really don't. Endless despair and losing everything and everyone, I think even I might have taken the easy road out in this universe. Maybe I just need a break. Rec me something else to watch, people.   

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there. Comments welcome on either post.
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
Stephstephdub on April 9th, 2015 03:05 am (UTC)
Like you, I'm not good with horror scary things. But I did try and watch TWD. And like you, I was into the story and the characters, but I had to give it up. It did give me nightmares. Horrible, waking up covered in sweat nightmares. So for a while I would read recaps of what happened, but eventually I gave that up too.

As for current watching recs, I am OBSESSED with Broadchurch. I'm not sure when it happened, but it did. I was never a huge David Tennant fan, so it wasn't that (I haven't seen Doctor Who) but for some reason it is sticking with me.

I"m also about to finish the 100, which is also a pretty dark and depressing show - not a lot of humour there, but so many strong women kicking ass and taking names which I am always into.

Do you have Netflix, and have you watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt yet? Because it was so much fun.
rhienellethrhienelleth on April 14th, 2015 01:25 am (UTC)
The 100 is amazing! Seriously one of the best show on right now. You know, other than the total lack of realism in that all of those kids would have died in the first few weeks in real life, but hey, for sheer character driven drama, it is great stuff. :)
Miss Crankypantsaka_paloma on April 9th, 2015 04:25 am (UTC)
First I must be clear and say I haven't read the comics so I don't actually know how much the show has in common with the original material, but what I've gathered from those who have read it and from what I've experienced as a viewer is that this is not a story about origin and, as a natural follow-up, about trying to find a cure for humanity. This is it. This is how it is on planet earth from here on in. Even if a character manages to die of old age, they will inevitably become a walker.

To me, The Walking Dead is about examining the themes of "surviving" and "living" and the differences that lie therein. It plays upon the title: yes, the walkers are literally the walking dead, but the people who are still alive all have the predisposed condition to become a walker after death, so they, in a manner of speaking, are already the walking dead. It's only a matter of time (and death), after all.

Is that bleak? Yes. Oh, hell yes. I watch this show, not to see them come upon a cure or any other kind of solution to this horrific problem. I watch it because I am fascinated by human nature and I am curious to see what this apocalypse has done to people and how it has made each individual show their true colours. Some have risen to the occasion while others have sunk into the abyss of the worst of human behaviour.

Also (and this is more and more addressed as the show goes on and is especially an issue in season five which just ended): even if a person is inherently "good" and rises to the occasion and is the best person they can be under these circumstances, being out there in the zombie apocalypse for a prolonged period of time will have its effect to the point where it may be that the individual has been "out there" for too long and that it has changed them and has made them do things, desperate things, to ensure their survival and the survival of their friends and family.

I do totally get where you're coming from and it can be too much for a lot of people. This show can be so very devastating. The end of season four is brutal. BRUTAL. Season five has been no less so in its own way. I brace myself for the worst as I begin to watch each episode. What will happen? Who will die? It's a tough show. It's not an easy show to watch. But it still has a huge viewership. Which is amazing and awesome. And you know what? I don't think the people watching it expect a happy ending. (I know I don't.) And I also don't think the people watching are doing so out of a case of schadenfreude and enjoy watching the characters suffer. I think the bulk of them are like me: fascinated by this situation, whether it's a disease or an evolutionary change, and how humanity responds to it. I admit to being curious about the origin but in the end, it really doesn't matter how this all happened. What matters is what humanity does in response. This is definitely a case of it being the about the journey and not the destination. I am 110% invested in these characters and their struggle. I am 110% invested in humanity, basically. ;)

But if you bail (again, totally understandable), these are some of the shows I watch and thoroughly enjoy if not totally love (not including Game of Thrones because you already mentioned it):
- Hannibal
- Penny Dreadful (yes, more horror, but it's Victorian gothic horror so more understated than The Walking Dead. A bit of grossness but if you got through a few seasons of TWD, you'll be fine. The art direction and costumes are gorgeous.)
- The Americans (Soviet spies in America in the 80s!)
- Vikings
- 12 Monkeys
- Orphan Black
- Broadchurch
- The Fall
- True Detective
- Black Mirror
- Black Sails
- House of Cards
- The Game (more spies but in the UK and in the 70s)
- Person of Interest
- Poldark (2015)
- Arrow

And a billion other shows that haven't come to mind at the moment. I watch far too much TV.

Edited at 2015-04-09 04:31 am (UTC)
rhienellethrhienelleth on April 14th, 2015 01:27 am (UTC)
Well, I haven't given it up. I just needed a small break from the unrelenting...relentlessness of it all. Seriously, as engaging as the characters are, marathoning this show is asking to be utterly depressed. (And for me, nightmares.) But a small break and I seem to have regained my equilibrium.

Thanks for the recs! I will check some of them out. :)
Miss Crankypants: Alias Sarkney Hold Upaka_paloma on April 14th, 2015 02:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, had I marathoned the show, it might have had a more of a dear-god-make-the-unrelenting-misery-end impact on me. I've been watching since day one, week by week so the grimness is more evenly measured out. I have, at times, fallen a little behind, but not by more than two or three episodes and not since season two. Hang in there, Rhien!
Miss Crankypants: Iron Man Tony Stark Testing the Arm Techaka_paloma on April 13th, 2015 04:24 pm (UTC)
Another TV recommendation: I just binge-watched Netflix's Daredevil over the weekend. Holy crap, it's good. So, so good! I would easily sacrifice all the other superhero shows I watch just to have a second season of DD. I am going out to buy some essential DD collections today (I grew up as solely a DC girl so thanks to the MCU I've started discovering another world these last few years) because I'm going to need something to get me through the wait for another season (which better happen or I SHALL CRY).
rhienellethrhienelleth on April 14th, 2015 01:26 am (UTC)
Watched the first two episodes of Daredevil last night with the husband, and we are hooked. :) Good show, well written and well acted.
Miss Crankypants: MCU Lokiaka_paloma on April 14th, 2015 02:55 am (UTC)
I was already pretty sure about this when I saw Guardians of the Galaxy but after watching Daredevil, it's confirmed: Marvel owns my soul. Completely. :)