Columns > Published on November 30th, 2011

Top 10 Ways To Make 'The Walking Dead' Less Stupid

Every week I watch The Walking Dead and I hope it turns into a good television show.

Sadly, it does not.

The first two episodes of the first season were great. Since then it's gone down a very steep hill. There's a myriad of problems, but I think they all come back to the writing. This is a poorly written show, with meandering plots, contrived speeches, and obnoxious characters. There are a few shining moments, which is probably why I keep coming back, but I'm very close to giving up on it when the season starts again in February.

And I want this show to be good. I really do. This is the golden age of television. Breaking Bad, Community, Mad Men, Doctor Who. There is so much awesome stuff to watch on TV. And yea, I want a cool zombie show too. But this is not a cool zombie show. This is a mess. And I'm not saying it needs to follow the comics, which are also meandering and plagued by long stretches of boring. It just needs some good writing so that I don't hate every character except Daryl. 

After Sunday night's mid-season finale, the show is on break for two months. I don't know how much of the second half of this season has been shot, or whether the show will continue to suffer from AMC's rough handling of the budget and showrunner. But as a television viewer and a fan of all things related to zombies, I do have some suggestions on how to make this show more engaging when it comes back in February:

10. Stop with all the monologues and serious talks.

At least four times per episode, everything grinds to a halt so a character can tell a story, or relay some information, or give an impassioned speech (I'm looking at you Rick, and everything you've ever said). I get that a zombie apocalypse is a vehicle for telling human stories, but there needs to be less 'telling' and more 'things actually happening'. 

9. Hire more female writers and directors.

The women on this show are sexist caricatures. Carol does nothing buy cry. Maggy acts crazy around Glenn, because girls who like boys are crazy. Andrea is angry all the time, not for any real reason, but so there can be tension in lieu of character development--and so she could "come out of her shell" by shooting guns and fucking Shane. This show's attitude toward women was summed up when Glenn asked Dale if all the women were on their periods. Get it? Because ladies on their periods are nuts! You know why Mad Men has good, interesting female characters? Because the writing staff is predominantly female.

8. Give Lori a break.

I know I addressed the problems with the female characters, but this deserves special mention: Lori is reprehensible. Everything she says is mean or terrible. "I hate my husband because I got angry at him for nothing and he responded by being understanding and compassionate." CHRIST! Unless the goal of this character is to set back gender equality, please give Lori something nice to say, for once.

'The Walking Dead'

7. Give T-Dog something to do other than be black.

All T-Dog does is stand in the background and sometimes say something. He's there for the sake of diversity. That's it. Writers, please give T-Dog something to do. Please justify the existence of this character outside of filling a racial quota. IronE Singleton deserves better than that. Also, give him a name that's less racist than 'T-Dog'. 

6. Address this season's massive logical fault.

(This item comes with a SPOILER ALERT). I refuse to believe that not a single person on the farm knew Sophia was in the barn. Comic series creator Robert Kirkman has said that Otis had been putting the zombies in the barn and then Otis got killed, so that's why nobody knew. I call bullshit on that. They were feeding the zombies. Nobody noticed the little girl? That's weak. And the timeline doesn't make a great deal of sense. There may be a very good, logical explanation for all of this. We need to hear it. Because otherwise the writers are showing contempt for the audience by pole-vaulting logic in favor of an emotional payoff.  

5. Stop making characters do stupid, illogical things in every episode.

The whole "zombie down the well" thing was pretty funny, but stands as television's worst example of problem solving, ever. The second they lowered Glenn into the well, it was obvious what would happen, therefore robbing the moment of any tension. And really, the only way their plan could have been worse is if they stood in a circle hitting each other with hammers. When you put characters in a completely illogical situation to give the illusion that something is happening, that's lazy writing.   

4. Kill all the survivors; replace them with new ones. 

Keep Daryl and Glenn and Shane. That's it. I'm really tired of the rest of them. They're all so annoying and I hate their faces. But failing that...

3. Put Daryl in charge.

Of the survivors, and the farm, and the writing staff, and everything ever, from this point forward.

2. Introduce Michonne.

Soon. Daryl is great, but he can only carry the show for so long. Michonne, a sword-wielding character from The Walking Dead comic book, is a strong black woman--something this show desperately needs (see points 7, 8 and 9). 

1. Try to include some zombies.

It is very easy to forget this is a show about zombies, and not about people whining on a farm. So far in this season, there has been one legitimately scary zombie moment--on the highway in the first episode. Other than that, how many other cool zombie moments have we had? Besides Well Zombie and High School Zombie Attack, I can't come up with anything. These zombies aren't a threat. They're just sort of there and they happen and they're gone. Again, zombies are a vehicle for telling a story. They are the ultimate MacGuffin. But they still need to be there if the show is about them. 

About the author

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor. His latest novel, The Paradox Hotel, will be released on Feb. 22 by Ballantine. He also wrote The Warehouse, which sold in more than 20 languages and was optioned for film by Ron Howard. Other titles include the Ash McKenna crime series, the short story collection Take-Out, and Scott Free with James Patterson. Find more at www.robwhart.com

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