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Top 5 Best and Worst Things about AMC's The Walking Dead

The midseason finale for the seventh season of AMC's enormously successful zombie show, The Walking Dead, arrives this coming Sunday, promising to not only tie together several disparate storylines but to also boost the show's sagging ratings. As a mild fan, I've been both fascinated and frustrated by the series for a number of reasons, and now seems as good a time as any to lay them out for my dear readers.


THE WORST
5. There's Graphic Violence and Gore All the Time
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THE WORST
5. There's Graphic Violence and Gore All the Time
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Granted, this isn't a problem for everyone. I don't shy away from violence or gore--in fact, I tend to love them in my various forms of entertainment--but I am a parent, which means I can't be watching it whenever I want. I've got plenty of violent and gory things to consume, but my free time for such things is exceedingly limited. Of course, the show probably wouldn't be as good as it is if it were more prudish, because the desensitization to shocking and grotesque violence is a big part of what it's trying to do. But still, how am I supposed to play GTA V AND watch The Walking Dead?


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THE BEST
5. It's Surprisingly Unpredictable (At Times)
THE BEST
5. It's Surprisingly Unpredictable (At Times)
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The zombie formula isn't known for its originality, and The Walking Dead not only adheres to the basic tropes of the genre, it's an adaptation to boot. You'd be forgiven for assuming there's nothing surprising about the series, and yet it constantly throws curveballs at the audience. This was especially true early on, when it only loosely followed the comic source material, but it still more or less holds true to this day. The show is free to remix certain plot elements and characters, and it even likes to throw in unique settings, storylines, and characters that don't have a comic counterpart. On top of that, it manages to go in a few unpredictable directions, subverting the very zombie apocalypse formula it relies on so heavily.


THE WORST
4. Zombies are Boring and Played Out
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THE WORST
4. Zombies are Boring and Played Out
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I'm a gamer, and video games figured out a loooong time ago that zombies are perfect cannon fodder. If I tried to count all the games out there that feature zombies, I'd lose my mind. Add to that the various movies, books, and other media that have thrown zombies at me, and I must admit I'm really friggin bored of the subject. There's only so many ways you can do zombies, and only so much symbolism you can squeeze out of them. Besides, even if I weren't sick of zombies by the time the first season of The Walking Dead came along, I'd sure be sick of them now, seven seasons in.


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THE BEST
4. The Morality is Provocative and Grey
THE BEST
4. The Morality is Provocative and Grey
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One major benefit to the extreme length of the story of The Walking Dead is that it can demonstrate a methodical chipping away at conventional morality. Stories about survival in impossible situations are all about how morality can bend, and The Walking Dead is able to bend it in ways rarely seen on television, well beyond the breaking point. The line between good guy and bad guy is incredibly blurry, if not altogether absent, and you can find yourself sympathizing with someone who decides to walk into a compound and mercilessly slaughter a dozen total strangers in their sleep. That kind of perspective is hard to achieve, and it can provoke some pretty uncomfortable realizations about how the real world works.


THE WORST
3. The Show's Fans are the Worst
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THE WORST
3. The Show's Fans are the Worst
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I don't mean to overgeneralize, because there are a handful of cool hardcore fans out there (shout out to Trev), but for the most part, I've discovered that most so-called fans of The Walking Dead don't even appear to like the show. I was a Lost fanboy back in the day, and I don't remember fans of that show--even on the Internet--being so negative and bitter all the time; most of us waited until the show was over to get so jaded. TWD fans, though, do nothing but complain, whether it's about an actor they've decided to universally hate (and it always seems to be a lady actor for some reason), deviations the show makes from its comic source material, a character death (or non-death) that pisses them off, how no episode ever seems to live up to their own hype, the show's popularity among lesser folk, or the writers' refusal to jump far ahead into the story and give them their favorite bit which they will be predictably disappointed by anyway. I'm reluctant to call myself a fan, for fear I'll be lumped in with these assholes.

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-e. magill 12/8/2016

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