An open letter to The Walking Dead
Dear AMC’s The Walking Dead,
Your highly anticipated third season premiere is tomorrow night, so I thought this would be a good time to write you this letter.
How are you? I am fine. I’d just like to start out by saying that I think you’re a cool guy and I’ve always wanted good things for you. Your concept of an evolving narrative from an on-going comic book series is clever, and the way you differentiate yourself from comic book canon is fun. You have such a good cast, and any vehicle to allow a sweaty Norman Reedus to cruise around without shirt-sleeves gets my vote hands-down. I was even cool with the lack of zombies in lieu of character drama last season, and ultimately I found the Sophia storyline satisfying. So, you know, there is that.
But, man, I got to tell you: Your female characters really suck. I mean, like, a whole lot. Not the characters themselves, who seem like fairly reasonable people in their own rights (well, as reasonable as you’re going to be in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, I guess), but the way you represent them.
I mean, there’s Lori, who you seem determined to make wrong at every turn. You have her constantly see-saw between the strong matriarch figure of this survivor camp, to gibbering idiot who wants to do people’s laundry and tell all the other women how to act. She’s caught in a very tenuous emotional situation between these two men she cares about, and no matter how badly Rick and Shane act because of it, it all goes back on her. Even when she’s finally right about something, you go out of your way to paint her in such a way as to make her completely unlikeable and undermine her. Remember when she was going to try to abort her baby out of survival, and you tried to make Rick look morally superior because he wanted to keep it? Yeah, that was lame.
And what’s with Andrea, anyway? You make her this amazing independent crack-shot sniper to help her come to terms with losing her sister and contemplating suicide, and that’s awesome. Then you immediately turned her into this reckless idiot who shoots at Daryl with every single dude on the show screaming at her not to. That totally makes her look stupid, and invalidates her growth from ten minutes earlier. Oh, and remember that time you had Andrea and Lori arguing over Beth when she was trying to kill herself? When Andrea was trying to stand up for Beth’s autonomy and right to end her own life, and Lori was telling her that Beth has obligations to the camp because she’s woman and needs to be there to make a home for everybody else? For real, guys, what the hell is that?
And Carol? Does Carol even have a personality? Does she even have a function, outside of being sad over losing Sophia and hanging around with Daryl? (I love their relationship, but come on.) About the only person I don’t think I have a problem with is Maggie, but I can’t tell if that’s because she’s written well or if I’m still hung-over from how awesome she was as Bella on Supernatural. Could be both. I’m really not sure.
I get it, okay. Society breaks down? Everybody relies on hunter-gatherer gender roles in an effort to maintain status quo. It sounds great on paper, but you’ve done a really crap job with that so far. Also, it’s, you know, 2012 and stuff. It’d be really cool if we didn’t do that this time around.
So, I’m just saying. I think you’re a cool guy, but if your ladies didn’t suck this year, I would be super-pleased. Take that as you will.
(P.S.: Every time I see Andrew Lincoln in Love, Actually in that scene where he runs away from Keira Knightly’s door crying as Dido swells up romantically in the background, I think of that horse from season one. Now I’ve ruined both Dido and Love, Actually for myself. Oh, well — it’s not much of a loss.)