Television, Uncategorized

The Walking Dead and Binge Watching Brats


I know some people are going to hate this, but it needs to be said.

A-veruca-saltSaying that the fan reaction to The Walking Dead Season Finale is mixed is generous. Some fans (like me) loved the tension of not knowing who Negan’s victim was. Others were so viscerally angry about it. The not knowing pissed them off to no end. There are threats not to watch the show. Online complaints and virtual temper tantrums. This shows me that many TV viewers have no tolerance for cliffhangers. Some members of the audience remind me of Verruca in Willy Wonka, demanding to be entertained on his/her terms and on his/her timeline.

That big backlash reaction is a bit puzzling to me. Maybe I’ve been around the block enough times to know that cliffhangers are a common practice on television, especially on season finales. News flash, but this is how it rolls. People seem to forget this because we live in an on-demand culture. We want it now. Instant gratification!

I’ve been binge watching The X-Files with my Mom who hadn’t watch the series before. On a few cliffhanger seasons finales, I said something like, “back in the day, I had to wait all summer to see what happens.” And at that moment, we just had to wait for the 30-seconds for Netflix to load the next episode. Has this binging culture has made people have less patience for cliffhangers?

I also understand that this moment on The Walking Dead was hyped up for awhile. For weeks, we knew that the season would lead up to this moment and I went in fully prepared to not find out who got his/her head smashed in. If you recall, we had to wait for weeks and weeks to know if Glenn had died or escaped under that dumpster. Or not knowing how the group was going to get Terminus box car all summer long? Why is not knowing who died here surprising to anyone who has watched multiple seasons of The Walking Dead or any sort of television?  This ending shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention.

If you don’t like the way this was handled, this may not be the show for you. Maybe you’re the type of person that should just stick to watching old TV shows. Or find entertainment that is less raw. Your behavior makes you seem like a big baby, Judith is way much more badass than you are.

screen_shot_2016-04-03_at_7.43.21_pmFrom a narrative perspective, it wasn’t stupid or gimmicky to leave it open ended.  What would knowing who died really prove? How would seeing someone’s bashed and bloody head bring you a sense of real closure? How would’ve made it better? What could we do with that information until next season? Would this give anyone time to be properly mourned or be fully eulogized? What comes next for our surviving characters is what season 7 will be about.

In this era of instant gratification, a big damn cliffhanger (for some) is maddening. People want easy answers and they want them now. There is something oddly brilliant of making people wait for answers and speculate.

Temper tantrums be damned.


The Walking Dead is Good For You

walking-dead-season-4A Fox News contributor, Dr. Manny Alvarez wrote a column,  “America’s obsession with ‘The Walking Dead‘ is hurting our society.”  The article claims that America’s fascination with zombies is all about violence .  In his mind, “entertainment should help us soothe our brains so that we can ease our minds of some of the stress from our daily lives.”

I have a different view about the purpose of entertainment.  The best entertainment should expand your mind, it should make you think, it should make you feel.

The final line in Alvarez’s article is, “Stop obsessing over eating brains, and focus on cultivating your own.”  The Walking Dead is a show that  “cultivates” brains.  The drama of The Walking Dead, makes you think of the beauty of humans and the survival instinct. The Walking Dead shows the power of the collective.  It is better to be part of a group you trust than to be alone.  The first few episodes of Season 4 are intriguing, since people are not protected even within the “safe” walls of the prison compound they call home.

We want Rick to be an effective leader.  We want Maggie and Glenn’s romance to thrive in this ugly and dark world.  We want Daryl to evolve into an epic hero.  We want Carl to behave.

We put ourselves in the character’s shoes, not because we want to kill zombies, but imagine what we would do in this situation.  Would I survive this?  How would I survive this?  Would I want to survive this?  These questions make you think about important life and death issues. This is more vital and interesting than “entertainment that eases our minds.” That is the kind of entertainment that is mindless.