Nov 1 2010 10:51am

The Walking Dead S1, E1: “Days Gone Bye”

The Walking Dead episode

In August 2009, word came down the pike that the epic survival horror comic The Walking Dead had been picked up as an ongoing television series. The thought, nay, the dread that Robert Kirkman could be headed for NBC and inevitable cancellation was quelled by the news that AMC, the random little cable channel that somehow managed to crank out the two masterpieces Mad Men and Breaking Bad, was helming the adaptation. This year’s Comic Con only fanned my flames of excitement when they unveiled the trailer in all it’s gory zombie glory.

Two years I’ve waited. Two long, eventful, comic-filled years. I was incredibly, utterly, completely excited about this show. So excited, in fact, that I refused to even consider Halloween plans so I could sit home and watch the premiere live. And let me tell you, it was worth it.

The story opens with Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes blowing the head of a zombie little girl in an abandoned gas station, then backtracks a bit. Rick gets himself shot during a random high speed chase and comes out of his coma as the last person alive in the creepiest hospital this side of Willowbrook.

Eventually he teams up with Morgan Jones and his son Duane after the boy hits him over the head with a shovel. They introduce Rick to the rules of this brave new world: no one knows the origin of the plague, just that once you get bit the virus spreads into a seemingly deadly fever that leaves nothing behind but a flesh-crazed walking corpse. The only way to stop them is to destroy the head, an act Rick later seems to get slightly too much enjoyment out of.

In this new Kentucky, morals, rules, and ethics no longer have the same weight they used to. Is it still murder if you kill someone that’s already dead? If it comes down to your life and someone else’s, does it make you evil to choose yourself? Does it even matter? Rick wakes up to a world where nothing is as it was, and when he finds out his wife Lori and son Carl might have been Atlanta bound, he makes it his mission to track them down.

Lori and Carl, meanwhile, are hunkered down with a handful of other survivors just outside the city in a makeshift campsite. This leads to what is probably going to prove to be the weakest aspect of the show: the interactions between Lori and Shane. I can’t decide if it’s the actors, the stilted dialogue, or a combination therein, but sitting through that half-assed conversation was painful.

After several more long stretches of beautifully shot silent or nearly silent scenes, Rick finally rides into Atlanta, Clint Eastwood style. But this is more Unforgiven than it is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Rick spots a helicopter passing over the city—so not in the comic but I am crazy-intrigued—and rides after it only to run smack dab into the middle of an all-out zombie army. He winds up getting trapped in a tank...only to get mocked on the radio by...well, I can guess since I’ve read the comic, but I’ll play nice for the virgins and keep my mouth shut.

AMC’s The Walking Dead is not Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. While the TV show and the graphic novel both come from the same basic mold, the creative minds behind the show (with Kirkman’s enthusastic support) have been upfront about veering off into their own direction. And the pilot reinforces that (speaking of which, I hope to almighty Zeus I never have to sit through Rick and Shane talk about chicks and light switches ever again).

This is not a panel-by-panel reconstruction and, frankly, I’m glad it’s not. Having Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd behind the wheel (along with backseat drivers Bear McCreary and Greg Nicotero) give the show a much-needed cinematic quality, a quality that most certainly would’ve been lacking had NBC gotten their Leno-tainted claws on it.

Yet it’s still one of the bleakest, most unrelentingly depressing shows on the air, and I mean that as a compliment. This isn’t just “survival horror,” it’s the horror of survival. It’s about a dead wife wanting to eat the flesh of her living husband and son. It’s watching a half-dessicated zombie drag itself through a park, an ex-cop wading through piles of bodies in an abandoned hospital, and finding an infinitesimal solace in the arms of your probably dead husband’s best friend.

Final thoughts

  • Some ground rules: I don’t care if you want to talk about upcoming eps or future storylines from the comics, but please be a decent human being and preface it with a SPOILER warning. I’ll return the favor and try and keep the comics out of my reviews (unless it’s necessary).
  • Kudos to AMC for letting a whole 30 minutes go by without a commercial break.
  • The Lori/Carl reveal. It just seemed so...casual. Is she dead? No, she’s fine, she’s just busy making out with Shane. No build-up, no suspense, just a jump cut to her sulking in a campsite.
  • Sweet zombie Jesus, those accents. I haven’t heard Southern accents so bad since Beel and Sookeh.
  • Have to give props to production designers Greg Melton and Alex Hajdu and cinematographer David Tattersall. Excellent work, my friends.
  • Shane’s kind of a douche, isn’t he? And Lori’s awfully annoying.
  • Still can’t decide which one I like more: the actual credit sequence with McCreary’s score or the fan-made version that came out first.

Alex Brown is an archivist in training, reference librarian by day, writer by night, and all around geek who watches entirely too much TV. She is prone to collecting out-of-print copies of books by Evelyn Waugh, Jane Austen, and Douglas Adams, probably knows far too much about pop culture than is healthy, and thinks her rats Hywel and Odd are the cutest things ever to exist in the whole of eternity. You can follow her on Twitter if you dare...

Ashe Armstrong
1. AsheSaoirse
I'm gonna vote the fanmade credits were better. The official credits felt too urgent but the fanmade one just had this groovy vibe. Like it was saying, "yes, this is a show based on a comic book. there's also lots of dead things. enjoy."
Teresa Jusino
2. TeresaJusino
You and I are definitely in agreement about this episode. Overall, it was great. But the beginning was a bit slow, as it was mired down by that stupid lightswitch conversation.

But the last scene?! Yowza!
3. TheAdlerian
I thought it was extremely poorly made.

Yes, the visuals were nice and all of that, but I found the characters to be very weak. When he awoke in the hospital, based on what he saw, it was extremely bizarre that he would then walk outside barefoot. A guy like him would have had Red Cross training and have some clue that getting some shoes would be smart.

Later, he meets this father and son who are the last known people to him, and he's like, "See ya!" Maybe an hour or two after he learns that dead people are still alive somehow, he stumbles on one cut in half dragging itself to nowhere, and he decides to tenderly talk to it. Most people are afraid to bend down and feed a squirrel.

AMC always says that "Story Matters" and there was no story here. It was more horror porn of cutting to the money shots and forgetting about the story.
4. dmg
Hmm, seems you might want to check your (over-)usage of the word "random." (Okay 2x in 3 paragraphs is not too bad; I've seen worse. :-)

Too, you might want to watch the margins of the screen, not solely its center. You might be surprised to see this and that.
nicole rich
5. nrich
@TheAdlerian: Wow. I couldn't disagree more. This show it utterly character driven and except for the ridiculously gratuitous slow-mo head shot scenes and lame CGI blood, just about everything that happens not only follows the great story created by Kirkman, but depends solely on what happens to people when they are desperate and alone.

You must have missed something while you were watching because he doesn't just happen upon the bicycle girl in the park; he goes back and finds her after having seen her earlier to put her out of her misery. I think that is a very poignant scene mostly because he is acknowledging that these zombies were human once and don't deserve the fate they've been allotted. He was showing her pity because she was a person.

As far as Grime's other reactions to The F-ing Apocalypse, who's to say how a person will react when suddenly faced with so much carnage. I for one (also trained Red Cross trained) cannot guarantee that I wouldn't be a total wreck when suddenly waking up from my coma and finding myself utterly alone, dehydrated, and starving. Especially when I thought that I just had been speaking to my best friend just a moment before. I do know, however that my first thoughts would be about finding my family and hopefully finding some place that is being run by some sort of authority.


Alex: I seem to remember that in one of the comics, Grimes finds a recently crashed Helicopter outside of Atlanta. I think that was the one he sees flying above the city. It is my hope that that will mean that (and it would help if I could finish a sentence before posting....) there will be more evidence of a large organization or government having agency in later episodes. It has always seemed very odd to me that absolutely everybody in any form of power was killed and that there was absolutely no military presence except for the little bit shown in downtown Atlanta...
John Skotnik
6. ShooneSprings
I really enjoyed the debut and am looking forward to seeing the rest of the season. At least with it on AMC it has much more of a chance of finishing a season than if it were on say... Fox (aka the killer of all things Whedon).
nicole rich
7. nrich
Also @Alex:

what do you think about the zombies having some lingering memories like the little girl picking up the doll and the the wife knowing how to turn a doorknob? That actually really freaked me out. Zombies are not supposed to open doors! I expect that making the zombies more human-like will hold major consequences later in the plot....
Alex Brown
8. AlexBrown
TheAdlerian @3: I dunno, I guess it never bothered me that Rick wasn't all Extreme Hero Dude. That's kinda the point, isn't it? I'll be honest, if I woke up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse the last place I'd want to hang around is in my abandoned house looking at memories of my maybe still alive family. I'd get my ass off to wherever they might have gone and start looking for them. I'd need closure. And guns. A lot of fucking guns. Also, shoes probably wouldn't be in the forefront of my mind immediately post-coma. Especially a coma in which you were left to your own fate halfway through. But even still, those little oddities weren't enough to ruin the experience for me.

dmg @4: Last night was the last day in a 6 day work week, it was late, and I stayed up to watch the whole 90min ep all 3 times they aired it. Sorry if all the "randoms" were bothersome. There will proably be a lot more "randoms", "totallys", and "dudes" in further reviews so it's best to prepare ahead of time. Maybe pick up some Glenn Beck sponsored food insurance?

Also, your other comment has me utterly confused...

Nicole @5: That lame-o CGI blood was totally SyFy creature feature quality there. And I so agree about the girl with the bike. She was once human and now not only is she a Walker, but she can't even do that much. It's the ultimate tragedy that a formerly probably pretty decent human being is brought down to that. And she could just as easily be his own wife. Wouldn't you want someone to save what little dignity was left in your loved one?

I do remember (I think...I'm still pretty knackered) a helicopter, but I don't recall one flying around. Not sure I'm willing to accept them turning The Walking Dead into The Crazies (though I do love me some Timothy Olyphant).

I also liked the upgrading the zombies got from the comics. Those little bastards are fast, we're talking Romero fast. And that there's something left of their former selves? Creepy as all get out.
Alex Brown
9. AlexBrown
And in case you're wondering, the numbers just came in and it seems that The Walking Dead was a hit, a really massive hit, for cable anyway: 5.3 million viewers at 10pm, and if you add in the 11:30pm and 1am showings (all 3 of which I watched) that number jumps up to 8.1 million. I don't think we have to worry about season 2.
10. dmg
It is not the number of your "randoms," Alex, but that what appears random to you really is not so random.

Thank you for the reply.
11. mberan42
"Shane’s kind of a douche, isn’t he? And Lori’s awfully annoying."

Isn't that how they're supposed to be? (But yeah, that whole lightswitch conversation was terrible and way too long.)

I was awfully impressed with the show. The aspect I liked best was the audio. Deadly silent at times, tense and suspenseful at others, it was brilliantly done.
Alex Brown
12. AlexBrown
dmg @10: I think I get what you're saying now :)

mberan42 @11: Don't remember him being that Ed Hardy in the comics, and Lori never seemed that whiny. Shane always seemed colder to me, but here they make it look like a total skeeze. And Lori comes off as a pouty teenager rather than as a woman who did something she regrets. Or maybe it just pisses me off that Shane only seems to think of women in terms of bitches and girls.

But hell yes on the silence. As much as I loved McCreary's score, that silence - especially in the stairwell - was pitch perfect.
13. mirana
I will not be watching any more of The Walking Dead.

I'd heard a lot of good things about the comic, and read the first issue recently. Enjoyed the concept and the art. Heard lots of anticipation of the TV series and watched that last night.

Only to be smacked in the face with a huge, steaming pile of sexism right off the bat, with continued sexism any time a female character was mentioned or seen. WOW. Yes, the light switch discussion was outright disgusting (and made me leave the room, actually). But instead of having the "hero" make up for us having to sit through a "here's the douchebag and we don't like him" monologue, he then proceeds to reinforce the sexism by saying his wife said mean things in front of his kid that he would NEVER say. In another conversion it might be okay, but right on the back of the other monologue, we assume he's meaning that all women are that thoughtless and cruel.

Then the discussion about how women are so freaking DUMB, that they all grab photo books instead of survival gear? Or the return of the douche partner who instantly is abusive and patronizing to the wife/girlfriend? YEAH, no.

I've never known a single woman who's done any of the things these male characters claim women do. The men in my family were more apt to leave lights on and say horrible things in front of kids (not that I'm saying it's a gender-specific issue, just pointing out my reversed experience. It's a "people in general" issue, really). My mother didn't grab a single photo in all the years we dealt with hurricane evacuations. And I'll be damned if I ever let some sleeze talk to me like the partner talks to that wife!

Ironically, all the people who I knew that were excited to watch the show? WOMEN. So, great job writers. I will not watch another episode of The Walking Dead ever again. It's obvious you don't want me to, anyway. :/

Nice makeup effects, though.
Sean Pratz
14. Galoot
We call it "SFX." Only women still use the word "makeup."
Alex Brown
15. AlexBrown
mirana @13: Wow. Very interesting take. I didn't get any of that at all. I think there's a line between being a douchebag and a sexist chauvanist pig and I think Shane falls on the Ed Hardy side of that line, but I get what you're saying.

And Rick didn't agree with Shane. He's probably heard it all before and has learned to deal with it. Challenging him on it would've only make that interminable conversation even longer and undercut the point of ***SPOILERS*** Shane eventually getting his just desserts. ***END SPOILERS***

I don't know about the light thing. I grew up in California in the age of PSAs telling kids turning off every light in the house and permanent droughts. Maybe it's a Kentucky stereotype? Who knows.

Also, I'm not sure they were implying that women are "DUMB" for wanting to take photo albums, and they didn't say they weren't packing survival gear, just that their own wives had different priorities. I'd take photos of my loved ones. I'd probably even pack them first. I want to remember the people that are important to me, especially if I can't take those people with me, and I don't think that makes me sexist against my own sex. Those people and those memories are more important to me than anything else. Isn't that part of what makes us human? It isn't about what we eat or whether we pack proper zombie survival gear, but what we think and feel and remember.

You'd be surprised at what you are willing to put up with when you think you have no other options. And, yes, I am speaking from personal experience.

Seems to me the characters were acting realistically, in that you are negatively judging an entire series (80% of which has not yet aired) on a conversation designed to make Shane look bad and Rick look good and an off-handed comment about women and photo albums. Just as Shane negatively judges all women based on one ex-girlfriend who couldn't remember to turn off a light. But it is an interesting take, and I don't mean that in a patronizing way, but genuinely. I am not discounting or trolling your opinion at all, just questioning it a bit.
Alex Brown
16. AlexBrown
Galoot @14: *grumble* See, now it's things like that only prove mirana's point.
17. TheAdlerian

The show isn't character driven, it's plot driven.

A character driven story is where the psychology of the character determines their actions, not that the plot needs them to quickly get over to plot point B, so that X plot event can happen.

That was what happened in the show. The guy is a cop, and I've worked in an aspect of law enforcement, and had a ton of emergency training. Still, it's a fraction of what a cop has had, and he wasn't a donut shop cop, but rather a combat ready state trooper. Check out a site that sells something like police boots, you'll find they all have technical specs and are designed to repel disease, and are tactical. My point is that cops are people who are trained to think about what they do and even what goes on their feet.

The guy wakes up, sees mutilated people, an obvious monster behind a door with a big bloody sign on it, piles of bodies, defeated military, and he's on the move with no shoes and almost naked. A hospital would have lots of clothes to be had. The point is that his actions where highly unlikely and not in keeping with what a man like him would do. And, I'm not saying ass kicking, I'm talking about moving around like there's a heinous deadly emergency and he's a vulnerable target in an unknown situation.

He then goes to a house and encounters the father and son. They are clearly the only people around in a world with LIVING DEAD PEOPLE, and he's like let's get some guns, here little boy, here's a gun, and I'll see you later! Meanwhile, the police motto is, "To Serve and Protect."

He had to part from the family to serve the plot, not his character. The father had to go and have the conflict of shooting at his wife. Weirdly, he told the cop to not shoot or it would attract the zombies. But anyway, he couldn't have started crying if he wasn't alone.

Most people I know wouldn't get close to a strange cat, or worse yet a snake, in the wild, but a few hours after learning about zombies, the cop is squating in the grass talking to a chopped in half girl, when he probably wouldn't do that with a squirrel. The writer thought it would be cool if the character said those lines, because it doesn't make sense in reality.

A horse is pulled down by being so weak they can't walk. and then pulled apart by human teeth powered by the jaws of people who can only shamble. As an experiment, take a shoe and attempt to bite through it with your full powered teeth. Also, a horse in massively powerful with muscles that can do the work of a machine. It would have kicked the crap out of the zombies.

The tank scene existed just for him to get into the tank, and so on.

Frankly, horror has a lot in common with porn. The deal is to provide "money shots" with no characters or reason for the action to exist. That's exactly what this show is.
Alex Brown
18. AlexBrown
TheAdlerian @17: I guess we shall have to agree to disagree :)
19. jere7my
mirana@13, the question is not "Do real women behave the way the characters say they do?" but "Are there men (in this case, cops in the south) who hold these attitudes about women, and are they nevertheless worth telling stories about?" Not all fiction is aspirational — some just aims to reflect us in a mirror, nasty attitudes and all. You shouldn't watch the show if you don't enjoy it, of course, but you also shouldn't conflate the characters with the creators. Interesting stories can be told about people we disagree with.

TheAdlerian: "Character-driven" does not mean "driven at all times by the exigencies of logic." Interesting characters are not rational robots — they do things that seem odd from a logical perspective but are understandable from a human perspective. Forgetting to find shoes and choosing, quite poignantly, to put a zombie out of its misery are fine examples.

Milo1313@15: Thanks for the spoiler warning, but spoiler tags in the middle of a paragraph aren't enough for me. My eyes take in text in chunks. nrich's spoiler tag was more effective, for me.

(I was really wowed by the pilot. I love a show that's not afraid of silence.)
Madeline Ferwerda
20. MadelineF
jere7my 19, in fact, the question when you're reviewing a show is "how does this show seem to be shaping up as a part of our world" and mirana's observation that she saw "same sexist shit, different zombie" is entirely legit. The creators chose to show the things they showed, and they thus chose to show mirana sexist stuff, and she's 100% right to act on that.
21. jere7my
Madeline@20, I'm not sure I follow your point. The writers chose to show us sexist characters — I absolutely agree. I'll go further and say that some of the sexist characters were portrayed as otherwise decent, even heroic, people. It doesn't follow from that that the writers are sexist. The writers are giving us complex, flawed people. Real people are sometimes — indeed, frequently — sexist, and giving all fictional male chauvinists black hats is worse than simplistic, it's boring.

More than that, it sweeps the real sexism in our society under the rug, by presenting us with a "safe," inoffensive, sanitized version of reality. There's absolutely a place for fiction that shows us our better selves — that's what I meant by "aspirational," above — but there's also a place for fiction that shows us what the real world is full of. On TV, that means we get The Wire, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Rome. The real world is full of sexist, racist, homophobic bigots — who nevertheless love their kids, put out house fires, donate to homeless shelters, risk their lives to save others, and (if the question were to arise) kill zombies. To require that fiction never show that complexity is to gut it.

We didn't get a lot of time with actual female characters in the pilot, but it looks like that will change in future episodes. How they handle depictions of women promises to be a better barometer of sexism than the fact that they chose to present us with non-villainous sexist characters.

That said, I'm not going to tell anyone to watch a show if it makes them upset. (I am going to tell everybody reading this in the US to vote today, especially if you are anti-sexism, anti-racism, and anti-homophobia.)
22. jere7my
(Replying to myself here — sorry!)

I think a better word than "aspirational" might be "escapist" — which I mean in a totally non-pejorative way. If Mirana is saying "I deal with sexism every day; I don't want to encounter it in my fiction, so I'll watch X instead of Y," I totally get that. That's the textbook definition of escapism — turning to fiction to escape what's present in the real world. It's kind of a dirty word, sometimes, but escapist fiction can be brilliant. It lets us live in a world without sexism, or a world where totalitarianism gets its comeuppance, or a world where people don't behave irrationally (waving to TheAdlerian here), or a world where people don't bully geeks. SF fans in particular love escapist fiction, and there's loads of great escapist SF.

But it shouldn't all be.
23. mirana
@Galoot "SFX" refers to a broad spectrum of effects, including atmosphere and CGI. If you knew a damn thing about production, you'd know that the prosthetic work the actors wear is still called "MAKEUP" which is specifically what I was referring to. Try not to lump all men in with your stupidity next time, and thanks for playing.

@Milo1313 I don't get your "Ed Hardy" reference, but suffice to say since Shane made me want to punch him in the nuts repeatedly I'm going to go with unquestionable "sexist chauvinist pig." Rick challenging Shane would have made it clear that being sexist is NOT COOL. Saying "oh it would have made the monologue longer" is a cop out.

I live in the south. I have never heard of this lights issue in particular, but the age-old "Women spend all the money I maaaake" sexism is alive and well just about everywhere.

The photo album comments on there own are not enough to make me not watch the show. It's them in conjunction with the rest of the Shane/Lori/Rick BS that made me angry. As in, there was no relief from the sexism, even when discussing a completely different women. Hell, even when the one father discussed losing his wife, he said "She's the mother of my child!" not any sort of other qualifier making her important to him as more than just a traditional, barefoot and pregnant stereotype. So I might not have taken it as strong sexism, but saying, "I'm grabbing survival gear and she's getting the photos!" is pretty clear what he thinks is the smarter thing to do.

I don't owe a damn thing to watching any more of a show that was so strongly offensive in it's first episode. If we were talking racist themes, would you tell a non-white person to give it some more episodes to not be so offensive? I would hope not! Shane was certainly the most ridiculous cesspool of hate, but again, there were sexist comments by the hero, the other father, and also in the way they wrote Lori to take all that BS from Shane. Blarararagh! I'm not going to sit around and wait for it to get better, it should have done that from the beginning.
24. mirana
@jere7my No. As MadelineF says, the question is "Does this reflect something I want to see, or want our world to believe is normal and okay? Is this something I find offensive?"

It's interesting that you bring up the stereotype of southern men being sexist, as this was something else my friends and I found offensive. I've lived in the south my entire life. I have family members who work in emergency services. Yes, sexism is alive and well, but across the US and beyond. Does this mean we should let shows give it to us in even a semi-positive light? NO. Do I want to read/watch an "interesting story" of a sexist ass? NO.

So let me stop and say this again: I get that Shane's supposed to be the bad guy. What I don't get is why the writers felt #1 that neither Rick nor Lori could have been written to stand up to him and #2 That Rick and the other father were given dialogue that ALSO perpetuated sexist stereotypes, and Lori was made not only to take that horrific tirade from Shane, but THEN makeout with him! UGH. See, in writing you balance the villain's BS with the hero doing what's right. I did not see this happen.
...end spoilers

You know that sexism is alive and well. What you may not know is that I (and other women) deal with it every. single. day. Most often from uninformed men who really believe they are NOT sexist, and in fact the good guys! This is a lie, and a belief they hold because no one has told them better--and by "no one" I mean another man, because women's opinions and experiences are not as important or valid. Sound familiar?

What I look for are shows that make it clear that sexism, racism, homophobia, etc ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE if you are an actual good person. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

When you reference other shows--Mad Men, Rome, Sopranos, etc.--you are referencing time periods or characters which we identify as unenlightened, or bad. We know that those times, or characters, are not to be emulated. Is it so obvious that Shane or Rick are not to be emulated, if Rick is the "hero" and we frame the sexism in "jokes" and beliefs held by all the men presented to us in this modern situation? A lot of men would tell you what they are doing or saying is not sexism, including some of those posting here. Do you see why I'm concerned? Or are we going to go back up two paragraphs and start again?

It is so very bizarre to me how you seem to think that telling whether this show is sexist or not depends on the female characters being in the episode. What?? There doesn't have to be a female character around for me to figure that out. And HEY, there were two of them anyway! One got called "baby momma" and the grabber of photos instead of apocalyptic gear, and the other got called cruel, also a grabber of photos, talked down to, told she was basically stupid, and then made to make out with the jerk. Now I just feel like you're patronizing me in the worst way. Would you watch an episode of a bunch of white dudes saying racist shit and say, "Well, just watch other episodes with black folk in it to see if they take that crap. Other than the one in the first episode, anyway." See how crazy that sounds?

Okay, now your last post...I KNOW you're patronizing me here. Excuse me, but my freaking opinion of the episode is freaking valid, okay? If you don't see the sexism, and/or it doesn't bother you, then maybe you should consider why that is and stop telling me what it must be that I am looking for in fiction, okay? You are entirely missing my damn point. YEAH, SEXISM EXISTS...IN JERKS. I don't want "normal" guys thinking that because this is a hero and other "normal" men saying sexist shit, that's it's NOT sexist. IT IS, and you need to step back and stop telling women what the hell is sexist or not, okay?
25. jere7my
Mirana@24, I truly wasn't trying to patronize you. There's nothing wrong with escapist fiction, and in your response you say that's exactly what you want: "What I look for are shows that make it clear that sexism, racism, homophobia, etc ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE." That's exactly what I said you might be looking for: shows in which you can escape from the sexism, etc. of the real world. We agree!

I said your feeling might be, "I deal with sexism every day; I don't want to encounter it in my fiction." Your response is "What you may not know is that I (and other women) deal with it every. single. day." Again, we agree! I perfectly understand if you don't want your fiction to remind you of painful issues you deal with in your daily life. That doesn't mean such fiction shouldn't be made.

When I said we should see how the show depicts women, I meant we should wait to see what the women on the show are like (beyond the three minutes we already got, which I would call insufficient). Your examples are depictions of what the men on the show think of women. We already agree that the men on the show have some sexist attitudes. What the actions of the women will show is whether the writers have sexist attitudes.

You say "in writing you balance the villain's BS with the hero doing what's right." That's sometimes true — particularly in escapist fiction. Sometimes the villain and the hero are both people who sometimes do the wrong thing and sometimes do the right thing. It's not obvious that Rick isn't to be emulated (although he does act like kind of a dumbass at the end, there), but not all fiction is about finding someone to emulate. I don't ask that my fiction give me obvious moral lessons and reinforce my worldview, necessarily.

You ask, "Would you watch an episode of a bunch of white dudes saying racist shit...?" Maybe! Fiction like that can be done very well. The Wire is a good example, and it's the depiction of complex, layered black characters that balances the complex, layered, frequently assholish white characters. Waiting to see how the women are actually depicted on this show, instead of going on what the male characters say about them, seems prudent.

My post clearly made you mad; I want to emphasize again that I wasn't trying to patronize you. Your opinion is obviously valid, and I agree with you that the male characters were portrayed as sexist. Where I break with you is whether fiction should ever do that — show us sexist men who nevertheless do heroic things, who aren't simply cartoonish "jerks." I think that's an important part of holding a mirror up to reality. Sexist men are jerks, but they may have other admirable characteristics, and a realistic show (about zombies, okay) can show us that.

As to your last sentence, I do reserve the right to make my own judgments about what's sexist or not, and discuss that with people, despite the fact that I have external plumbing.
Alex Brown
26. AlexBrown
I'd like to second jere7my, mirana, and apologize for making you so angry, which wasn't my intent. I'm not defending sexism (and I've dealt with enough sexism and racism for a lifetime), I just don't think you should accuse the writers of it.

And yeah, I do watch shows with racist sexist pigs. Deadwood is one of my all-time favorite shows, and Pete Dexter's book is one of my all-time favorite books. But I don't think Milch or Dexter are rampant raving chauvanist racists. And I'm going to stand up to you here and say that doesn't make me a bad person or make me part of the problem.

But I do understand why you'd be upset. No worries if you don't want to watch the show again. I have friends who are completely uninterested in watching Mad Men because of the sexism and that just gives us one less thing to talk about Monday morning. And that's fine. I don't hold it against them. And I won't hold it against you. Your opinions are totally valid. I may not agree with you but I agree with your right to disagree.

And anyone else has read this far, let me non sequiter this into politics and say VOTE SAXON! Wait, no, I mean VOTE PEDRO! Wait, no, that's still not right...ah, hell, just get out and VOTE.
27. wineandgolover
Having racist characters doesn't necessarily make a show racist. I think the same holds true for sexist characters.

Good fiction explores issues. I have little doubt future episodes will deal with sexism further. We will likely get some characters who want women to do traditional women's roles, and hopefully we'll get women characters who kick ass. What I doubt we'll see is plastic, un-conflicted caricatures. Perhaps the writers' goal was to make the viewer uncomfortable, not just with zombies, but with issues that we face today. Given the strength of Mirana's reaction, maybe they succeeded. And in the end, if the show glorifies sexism, she'll be right. I'm betting it won't.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I liked the light switch conversation; not because I agreed with its premise, but because it gave insight into the characters.

My final thought? Best new show of the year!
Alex Brown
28. AlexBrown
wineandgolover @ 27: Best new show of the year for me is still probably Justified. Or Sherlock. I'm torn between the two, I mean, how does one reasonably decide between Timothy Olyphant as a modern day Seth Bullock and Benedict Cumberbath (with the world's best name) in that coat and with that accent? But The Walking Dead definitely cracks the top 5. Boardwalk Empire has been pretty awesome as well.

So let's say that The Walking Dead is my personal best new SFF show of the year. There. That sounds right.
29. jere7my
This conversation is pretty much dead (and not the walking kind of dead), but having re-watched the pilot with my wife I wanted to point something out: after the conversation about wives choosing to salvage photo albums, we see both men interacting with photos of their families. Morgan looks through photos of his wife before setting up the rifle for target practice, and Rick chooses to save a photo of his wife and son when he abandons the car. Both men are shown tacitly endorsing that choice of their wives, Morgan by highly valuing the photos and Rick by making the same choice his wife did. I think that's a good indication that the writers were doing something more than "Ha ha, dumb women r dumb!" with that conversation.

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