AMC’s The Walking Dead.
It started on October 31, 2010. It’s still going. AMC’s The Walking Dead went from being a comic book to becoming the most watched cable show in television history.
Zombies have always been semi-popular, starting with White Zombie and boosting with Night of the Living Dead, but this was a first. What made The Walking Dead so special? Especially since it’s in the horror genre?
What makes AMC’s The Walking Dead stand out:
1. It’s produced by AMC.
AMC is known for producing high quality shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Killing, and Hell on Wheels. They already have a track record, so almost any show they touch is guaranteed to be a hit.
2. The comic book that the show was based on had already been running for seven years, and it had won an award.
Whatever Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard had done, they did it well. All three had been working in the industry for years, with Kirkman having freelanced with Marvel and Image Comics, among other things. They were not new to the genre.
Zombies are human monsters. The monsters inside us. Chances are if you’re reading this, you like zombies, so I shouldn’t have to say much more about why people like zombies.
People actually exist, so a human monster is far more possible than say, Slenderman. A zombie seems more real to us. Plus, fighting our ex-loved ones is slightly less scary and a little more emotional.
Killing zombies is escapism. It’s an excuse to completely destroy those people we hated in the past. Be shocked or not, we all really wish we could smack a few people in the face, at the very least, and go on a killing spree at the most. Grand Theft Auto is a prime example.
The characters do kill bandits and people who have been bit too, so it’s not just about killing zombies.
5. It appeals to everyone.
Young people (especially emo and scene kids I think) are into zombies because it’s the new fad, because it’s gross, because…who knows.
Women love the show because there is an insane amount of drama in it, and with a show that puts people at their worst, drama can’t get much more crazy than this.
Men love it because they get an excuse to be more of an alpha male, more rugged, tougher. They get to show off.
Survival is much more interesting than a 9-5 job. Suddenly the stakes are raised. The movie Wanted was a very good example of our fantasy that something big will suddenly happen to us and we’ll become a superhero.
AMC’s The Walking Dead is another fantasy of our hope that one day it will happen to us.
7. Political and social allegory.
I think most of us are sick of our own politics, strained by them at best. Our country doesn’t seem to be getting any better, politicians, even the ones who gave us hope, are lying to our faces, and everyone in the political arena doesn’t seem to care much about anything. Kind of like a zombie.
AMC The Walking Dead caters to our feeling that our government is a zombie, that voters are zombies, that we are zombies, and when hell breaks loose, we can remain the zombies we are, or we can fight back.
8. Daryl Dixon.
Come on I’m a guy and I love him. He’s the ultimate survivalist, the man’s man, the guy we think we’ll be if a zombie apocalypse ever happens. He lives by logic, shredding all emotion that might decrease his chance of survival, but we all know he’s a big teddy bear down under.
I want this Daryl Dixon bobblehead.
9. Merle Dixon.
Oh yes, he’s a popular character too. He makes a good villain because he’s unpredictable. He’s also Daryl’s brother, which makes for more drama and conflict. And he’s sort of like a Captain Hook with his “knife” hand.
Unfortunately he’s dead now, so this reason is gone.
Above all, AMC’s The Walking Dead rose above most other shows because of good writing and good acting. Nothing can supplement for that.