I’ve been following The Walking Dead since it came on the air, and at first we had a hate/love/hate/hate relationship. I watched in disgust, squinting through my fingers, as Rick dodged gurgling flesh monsters, and everyone learned how to stab corpses in the eye sockets. It was just too gross. There’s really no better word for it. Gross. The episode would end and I’d physically feel like I just chugged a glass of expired soy milk.
But the next day, or maybe a few days later, I’d be sitting at my desk when the urge would strike me – “I have to see the next episode.” Inexplicable, but undeniable.
Years later, here we are. I’m still hooked. I’ve definitely become desensitized to the blood, the rotten flesh, and even Carl’s insistence upon wearing a hat that is WAY TOO BIG FOR HIS BABY HEAD.
The baby head is bigger this season, but still not big enough. Maybe next year, baby head.
Recently though, my viewing has been augmented by the bite-size geek treat that follows The Talking Dead. This show is hosted by Chris Hardwick, who has come a long long way from Singled Out (I am old).
This show has got me thinking about the way people enjoy things. The program is born out of the fact that there are so many people for which The Walking Dead is a pop cultural obsession. I love watching Chris, the guests, and callers dissect the characters’ intentions and puzzle over the twists and turns that may be on the way. The very best thing is the sincerity of enthusiasm. These guys are 110% into it! There is a crazy amount of joy that has been brought to bear because of a hopeless fictional world in which everything, literally everything, is the absolute worst.
What is going to happen to Andrea?! What’s the deal with Milton?! Who do you think gets to kill The Governor, and why?!
I like a lot of things that people love, but I love to observe a group of people enjoying something so hard. I think I used to feel like that about Ann Rice books when I was a lot younger, but that was before the internet could connect fanatics with such ease. I love Lord of the Rings, but my devotion pales in comparison to that of my husband who is never not scheduling a time for us to watch The Hobbit again (I hope he doesn’t resent our 5 week old daughter for interrupting the 3 hour long movie so much).
I’ll preface this next bit by saying I have no idea what I’m talking about really, but…here’s my hypothesis: It seems like there is a correlation between video games and comics. Also, it seems that there is a correlation between comics and fanaticism. Therefore, perhaps my lack of hand-eye coordination and resulting resentment of Super Mario Brothers has precluded me from a life of pop culture devotion and the resulting kind of joy.
Either way, I’m grateful that The Talking Dead allows me to be a tourist in that world. And I’m grateful that they cast the guy from The Wire as Tyrese. He’s awesome.