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I May be Done with The Walking Dead

Since it began, The Walking Dead has been one of my favorite tv shows. A couple of years ago my grown-up daughter stopped watching it. I’m more sensitive than she is, so it’s been strange to her that I continued to tune in to every gut-wrenching episode, recovering and decompressing with Talking Dead after. But I hung on and enjoyed the storytelling and the acting, even if so much of it made me avert my eyes, and so many times made me want to avert my heart.

I’m not a lover of everything zombie, as a lot of fans are. I appreciated the realistic study of humanity under intense pressure. Yes, for those genre-haters out there, it is quite possible for a story set in the zombie apocalypse to delve deep into what makes us do the things we do, and how the person we were before informs who we have to be today — that is, if our former selves don’t just disappear.

I always looked forward to this show, but I don’t know if I can watch it anymore. Talking Dead isn’t even helping me feel better tonight. The way the panel keeps telling me this Negan guy is a great character, chills me to the bone.

I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan as an actor, but his character reminds me of bullies I’ve unwillingly looked in the eye at various times in my life, bullies I lost to and am probably too cautious these days because of. Those bullies nearly drained the will to live out of me. Morgan played that kind of bully so well in tonight’s season-ending episode, that I felt like his fist was in my throat. My stomach churned so hard, my jaws tensed so tight as he spoke. I thought I might be sick. And through all his scenes I felt such post traumatic stress, like I was thrown right back into my own real life horror show. I don’t think this character is fun. I find his “sense of humor” painful. I don’t need to experience him to learn that the zombie, or any other, apocalypse can make a person hard, maybe make a hard person into a monster. Some horrible things may have happened to this character before we met him. I already get that.

If my life wasn’t so tangled up now, in desperately needed ends not meeting, in government-induced WTF, and the high emotional price of feeling things too deeply, well maybe I’d want to see what happens next and root for the characters I came to love. But I don’t expect to be happily married next season or to have made a loving nest of new friends here in Chicago who would buoy me up while this show knocks me around. I just started crying again while writing this. Tonight the shit hit too close to home.

My daughter wasn’t a wuss when she couldn’t take it anymore. I’m certainly not a wuss for giving up now. And yes, I know it’s just tv. But that shit still hurt. I can’t be the only one feeling like this.

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12 thoughts on “I May be Done with The Walking Dead

    • That decision can’t be about pain. There are books and stories I haven’t finished because their depiction of emotional pain was so intense, so expertly wrought that I had to stop; but then I chose another story. When someone who values great storytelling says they don’t watch anything on tv, it perplexes me. Not The Good Wife? Not Mr. Robot (which is not about robots)? Not even one of Ken Burns’ excellent documentaries? I do respect the personal decision. It’s an individual choice. For me, that’s understood. Just trying to wrap my head around it.

      • I can read all sorts of terrible heart-rending things, but the slightest mention of something sad on TV makes me cry (I exaggerate, but only slightly). I think it has to do with the engagement of more senses and an overactive imagination.

        My fiction-writing spouse adores the Walking Dead for its characters and the story. I am way too much of a wuss to write about it. But sometimes he tells me the stories.

      • Now that you mention it, I see why television and movies really get to me. It’s that engagement of the senses, the sight and sound.
        We seem like kindred spirits. Along with the sad things, the just plain touching things make me cry rivers. If your husband tells you the Walking Dead stories, then you know what I’ve been up against. I love the characters. Just can’t do it anymore. Sigh.

  1. Another honest post, Ré. I can understand how you feel. Whilst I’ve never seen Walking Dead (zombies etc not being my thing) I have stopped watching dramas before because they invoke in me a reaction that I didn’t want, so I get where you are with this. Move on to brighter stuff. “Jean de Florette” / “Manon des Sources” with Yves Montand always gave me a glow.

    • I appreciate the solidarity, Al. I’ve got some scary things to take care of this week (I hope I can set things right and learn how to breathe again soon), so for the time being my tv watching is going to be about safe reruns and the stupidly simple. When my game plan for a life crisis is set, tv quiets my mind the best so I don’t spend every waiting moment worrying. And thanks for the suggestion, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for that one in the tv listings.

  2. Good god, this sounds like the feelings I get reading politics on Guardian UK. I agree, good fiction can hit close to the bone. But when it does and it’s bad fiction, that’s just not worth the time. I have to be in the mood to watch certain things. And most of the time, I consider TV an indulgence for times of insomnia. It should be fun. I hope real life treats you better than it has. Bless x

    • I feel awful about many aspects of today’s politics, too.

      I’ve been trying to think about what’s going on with my show from the writer’s perspective. That doesn’t help me, though. I still won’t subject myself to that character. Thanks for the good wishes. ❤

  3. The list of things I can’t take anymore grows with every passing month (if not week, or even day). I can’t stomach aggressive characters either……too stressful. My anxiety skyrockets at the drop of a hat. I don’t think I could read The Kite Runner now. There is way too much violence in film, and media in general nowadays, so I have completely stopped watching :/
    Sorry you had to experience post traumatic stress Re. Hugs. Good luck with the scary things, hope you survive okay ❤

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