The Boob Tube Review: The Walking Dead's A Simmering Glower is Worth a Thousand Words or Not by Alex Snider

Being alive during the zombie apocalypse is roof stoof, guys. Aside from the obvious threat of zombies, there's also still all the drama of non-apocalyptic life to navigate. Petty squabbling? Ugh, still around. The constant threat of sexual violence? Being alive as a woman is never going to be less fraught, ladies. Keeping up with the Joneses? Still happening except instead of a new car or TV, it's gonna take storming the most walker-infested building. Jud Crandall was right, "sometimes dead is bettah". I would venture that's especially true for poor Mr. Coleman who went from near-catatonic with a ghoulish pallor while alive to agile and rosy-cheeked upon death. Even his appetite was better! Well, until he got a knife to the skull. Which reminds me, how are they keeping their knives so damn sharp? My kitchen knives can barely slice soft cheese. Is there a knife sharpening truck roaming the empty farm roads of Georgia, ringing it's bell and attracting all kinds of zombies?

This week saw Milton the underused scientist have his zombie-cherry popped (ew, I'm sorry) and dreams of sitting down for Christmas dinner with the neighbouring walkers dashed. I guess he'll just have to settle for Thanksgiving complete with the long dormant tradition of slaughter.

We also witnessed the terribleness of the Governor, finally. Much like how Reagan would go to work and be a heartless monster but then in his down time was best friends with a monkey and had sex with Nancy (you're welcome for that visual!), the Governor is also pretty good at compartmentalizing. He can go from torturing and murdering to brushing his zombie-daughter's hair and admiring Andrea's be-thonged butt. Speaking of which, how do these ladies keep their matching underwear sets like new? Inquiring minds must know! I guess they probably don't just wash their underwear in the shower then blow-dry it damp like I do some gross people do.

One thing that this season has last season beat on (aside from that I don't take a thousand naps each episode) is the tension. Whether or not I like the characters who are in danger, I'm always on edge when they're threatened. The torture scenes with Maggie and Glen had me holding my breath and making this face:
I also really appreciate the ways that the writers are making zombies scary again. First it was with the horde in the prison, and now with the Face/Off between Glen and the puffy shirt wearing zombie. Remember last season when Glen was dangled down the well to the tune of Yakkity Sax?

I know that there is supposed to be this big buildup to the showdown between the Woodbury guys and the Grimes team but Rick and his ragtag group of survivors seem so much more efficient and skilled. Remember Woodbury's Katniss Everdeen: Lookout Supreme? Girl couldn't hit the broadside of a Walmart. And Michonne took out eighteen of the Governor's crack team last episode so I don't see the inevitable battle being all that even. I am looking forward to the tested loyalties of Andrea, Daryl and Merl, though.

And another week, another wasted opportunity to fill out Michonne's character. But at least in this penultimate episode before the break she had lines some lines unlike last week's episode. As I understand it, graphic novel Michonne was pretty monosyllabic and glare-y, so in the spirit of continuity the writers have decided to stick with the books on this one. They did the same with Lori, following all the ups and downs of everyone's most hated character to a T. T-Dog wasn't in the comics so I suppose that explains his utter lack of lines, backstory and personality.

I'm sure there are some fans out there who are thinking that I should give the writers a break, they're just doing their job and staying true to the source material. I would agree except they're writers, it is their job to write believable plots, relatable protagonists and hate-worthy antagonists. And besides, they're able to diverge from the novels when it suits the story and the format: Daryl and Merl are not in the books, there isn't a frustrating and seemingly endless hunt for Sophia, Dale and Andrea are in a relationship (thank Merlin's Beard, that one was bypassed) and in one of the biggest deviations, the zombies in the books are called roamers not walkers. So the writers and show runner are capable of changing aspects of the novels just not when it comes to dismantling a White supremacist patriarchy.

It sticks in my craw so much when writers adapt other media and tweak lots of aspects to suit their needs but then refuse to challenge any of the original author's racism or misogyny. Like in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the writers managed to cram over a thousand pages into nine hours, cutting and changing tonnes of details, but seemed to think: "hey let's keep the Arabic-like people as the bad guys! Can't change that; sorry if that enforces negative stereotypes but we must. stay. true. to Tolkien!" They got rid of the entire Shire-enslaved sub-plot FFS, they could've switched up the non-White = villain trope.

The rule of so many adaptations, whether it's novels, plays, even remakes of TV and films, seems to be that as long as the kyriarchy is upheld then everything else is up for interpretation.

So Robert Kirkman wrote a woman character to be a conniving, inconsistent, hateful boner-killer? That doesn't mean that the show needs to make Lori an MRA straw-woman. And book-Michonne is a grimacing cipher; a wild African American woman with no people skills and is oh so untameable? Cool story, brah, but show-Michonne could be fully realized and fleshed out with traits beyond a re-imagined Birth of a Nation character. Oh, but changing the name of the fucking zombies? That's artistic license, yo!

Here's an unsolicited tip for all writers working on adaptations: if the original author wrote racist, misogynistic characters, there is zero obligation to stay true to those characterizations.

Alex out.

Alex Snider will never not be haunted by Pet Sematary. Her website is What Fresh Hell is This and her Twitter handle is @what_freshhell.


Post a Comment