The Walking Dead returns potent as ever

2016-10-23 15:00

Johannesburg - Ignore the Emmy’s snub of The Walking Dead. It received only one special effects make-up nomination.

The Emmy judges generally reward progressive story lines – a good thing for American culture, where a conservative backlash is under way (note the transphobia, police murders of black men and Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy).

On the surface, The Walking Dead seems like a conservative’s dream, with its gun violence and white-male-saviour complex. But it is not.

Before we get to that, know that while zombies are the more popular walking dead, they are not the only ones.

The myth has its roots in the experiences of Afro-Haitian slaves in the 1700s. Though brutalised by their slave masters, they feared committing suicide because their belief was that they would reanimate and roam the plantations as soulless bodies. It’s a fear of never escaping our own hell – that’s why all the characters are infected and will become zombies upon their death.

Haitian culture is never credited for the zombie myth (it’s vilified for its voodoo). Instead, it’s seen as a Hollywood creation.

The Walking Dead promo was released in 2010 and it received rave reviews from comic-book fans.

The TV show started off slowly, however, with a gruesome focus on the horrors of a post-apocalyptic world.

The story line gradually changed from horror to emotion (issues of loss, parental love), especially when the main female character – and Rick’s wife – was killed off in the middle of season three. Then writers noticed that its key romantic story between Rick and new love interest Andrea was not working. So Andrea, who was expected to be on the show till the end, was killed off.

Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Gurira joined the cast as the sword-wielding Michonne and the series underwent a metamorphosis. The chemistry between Rick and Michonne was so intense that the writers soon brought them together, veering away from the source material and causing a major upset. Fans complained that Michonne was too dark-skinned, looked like a man and that her bulging muscles were off-putting. The much-anticipated romance happened in season six, to the delight of all (even reformed) fans.

Gurira’s career has been catapulted into the stratosphere. She is playing Tupac’s mom in an upcoming biopic and will star in Marvel’s Black Panther movie.

Season six was the most successful and highest rated, which ended on a dramatic cliffhanger: the introduction of supervillian Negan and the murder of a major character.

Season seven debuts on Monday with a promise of big surprises. Here’s hoping the Emmys reward this amazing show in 2017.

See the trailer here:

Catch The Walking Dead Mondays at 21:00 on Fox (DStv 125).

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