Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Walking Dead vs Survivors

I have been watching and enjoying the first season of The Walking Dead. It is a fun take on post-civ using the all-too-common zombie apocalypse scenario. However, it is impossible to watch this ragtag band of still living folks and not compare it to another recent post-civ television program: Survivors.

The Walking Dead and Survivors are based on essentially the same premise: Some "sickness" causes a human die-off on a grand scale and a group of strangers bond together to survive. While both groups attempt to avoid conflict, in TWD, they fight zombies and in Survivors, they fight other people. At the same time, these shows are almost the inverse of each other and this is where Survivors is far superior.


I now turn this critique over to my friend, Pranjal:

There was the nagging sense, especially in the finale of Walking Dead, that the group of survivors was looking, seeking, searching for someone in authority to save them. "We didn't come here for the eggs", they say to the one doctor who's left at the CDC. And it doesn't help that the 'main people' in the group are both cops. When they go to the CDC, this bunch want to know what 'the experts' or 'the government' are working on and how they are going about curing or solving the situation. When it turns out the authorities aren't fixing the problem, it ends up being the massive revelation for the survivors, and then it seems like all hope is lost and they don't know what they are going to do.

Compare this with Survivors, where the people just seem to get on with living and working out how to make it work together. They don't go out looking for the cops or the equivalent of the CDC, they sort of figure that everything is gone but they self-organize and get shit together. In fact, when they encounter the remnants of the UK-equivalent of the CDC, it is the Health Minister and her proto-fascist state who want to take everything over again and dominate everyone, either that or the insane, secretive phramaceutical company doing human experiments... this is clearly shown to be a cold and sinister thing, in contrast to the hopeful and human world that the survivors seem to be building on their own.

It is very interesting to me that a US show would seem so much more dependent on authority than a UK one, when the former is hailed as an individualist, 'free', 'can-do' society, and the latter is often dismissed as old and authoritarian.

More thoughts on Survivors HERE and HERE

io9's critique of TWD


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