I got a fever, and the only prescription is less The Walking Dead. After the Terminans went bye bye, along with Bob (RIP Tainted Meat), the series has suffered an aimlessness and lack of urgency that is wholly unappealing. Yes, Beth’s journey has been enlightening and the inclusion of the Whale Rider and Young Chris Rock has been fun. Nonetheless, the Church and Grady Hospital arc isn’t nearly as compelling as Woodbury, the road to Terminus, or even the Prison. (Unpopular opinion: I like the Prison episodes!)
The showrunners are interested in the shades of gray of this post-apocalyptic world but haven’t figured out what shade of gray Grady, along with its leader Dawn, is yet. Did Dawn have good intentions and is now in denial over how overwhelmed she is? Is Dawn just crazy, out of control, and must be stopped? Is Dawn a reflection of what Rick is turning into? The answer seems to change every episode!
After watching the struggles Beth had to endure, I’m assured in the opinion that Dawn is crazy and her people need to be freed from her tyrannical rule. But Young Chris Rock having escaped still tries to explain to Rick’s group that she’s not all that bad. Ugh.
Plus, where the hell is the Father Gabriel storyline going? Seth Gilliam plays him with such intensity that he seems right at the precipice of violent insanity, and yet, he continues to do nothing useful. Is he being setup as a future big bad in seasons to come? How about we get a compelling story now rather than setting one up for later?
And another thing—WHERE IS MORGAN?
This isn’t the first time I’ve come down with The Walking Dead fatigue: following the tedious first half of the second season, I didn’t return to the series when it restarted for the mid-season premiere. Episode after episode was wasted on the seemingly never-ending search for Sophia, not to mention the Shane-Rick-Lori triangle tomfoolery, and it resolved with Walker Sophia corralled in Hershel’s barn. Usually I love devastating twists, this time I felt cheated of my time and energy spent watching this damn show.
Following an action-packed third season and an excellent, diverse fourth season, the fatigue has set in once again. Instead of railing against the pitfalls of the varied, hugely popular show for too long, time is better spent enjoying in the pop culture content that fit the voids The Walking Dead once did.
Sure, today there are a plethora of undead TV shows including The Returned, Resurrection, In the Flesh, Z Nation, and the upcoming iZombie. The Walkers of The Walking Dead are far from the main attraction. Here are 7 suggested antidotes to The Walking Dead fatigue, each fulfilling a pop culture nutritional need once met by the uneven AMC series we all known and love/hate.
Revival: Undead noir
If Fargo and The Walking Dead could spawn, the end result would look something like Revival. For one day in a small rural town, the dead didn’t die. Now, they can’t die. Following another cop with a precocious son, Revival centers on Office Dana Cypress as she tries to piece together the motives behind the Revivers’ bizarre behavior, not to mention her rocky relationship with her sister Em, who is also Reviver.
Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin): High concept action drama
Don’t get too attached to secondary characters in Attack on Titan, or Shingeki no Kyojin as it’s known in Japan. The anime adaptation of the horror/fantasy/action manga series follows Eren Yeager, adopted sister Mikasa, and best friend Armin as they grow up under constant fear of attack (GET IT?!) from the mysterious, humanoid giants called Titans. Similar to the lack of explanation of the Walkers’ origins, the Titans’ origin and motivations remain a maddening mystery. The bombastic action sequences, heartfelt character dynamics, and horrifying/mesmerizing Titans are what makes this series just as addictive as The Walking Dead.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Genre-bending zombie fun and romance
For those like me that like-not-love zombies and what something else with their side of the undead, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fits the bill. Sure, you can wait for the much-delayed movie version or you reacquaint yourself with the classic words of Jane Austen, this time trimmed with kick butt protagonists, zombies, and the occasional ninja.
28 Days Later: Modern zombie classic
28 Days Later‘s fingerprints are all over The Walking Dead. Reverse engineer the excellent pilot episode, set it in London, and make the zombies faster and scarier—you’ve pretty much got 28 Days Later. Directed by Danny Boyle, the 2002 film is now a part of the prestige zombie movie canon, notable for injecting humanity and therefore real horror into the then hokey, tired genre. Cillian Murphy shouting, “Hellooooo! Can anyone hear me?!” in a seemingly abandoned London gives me chills every time.
Children of Men: Love-in-a-hopeless-place post-apocalyptic “message” movie
BIG THEMES work their way into The Walking Dead all the time—what are compassion, love, and humanity at the end of the world? Children of Men is all about BIG THEMES—immigration, inequality, totalitarianism, euthanasia, rebellion, and all those light topics—and still manages to craft a taut, engrossing movie. If you still haven’t seen this 2006 gem from Alfonso Cuarón, then drop everything and watch it now. It’s that good.
Helix: Bat shit crazy zombie(?) TV
How foolish I feel for ever thinking this show was going to be serious. Instead, keep an open mind with the highly implausible and unintentionally hilarious Syfy series. Working in the no man’s land between Battlestar Galactica and Sharknado, Helix manages to craft a meh zombie viral outbreak story with a wildly fun evil immortals subplot. Cheery elevator music used while a character gets her face eaten by zombie rats push the show into full, glorious camp. See also: Under the Dome, a biting atheist satire on the absurdity of religion masquerading as a bat shit crazy wannabe prestige TV drama.
Penny Dreadful: Supernatural ensemble of bad assery
I will never stop talking about how great Penny Dreadful is. Supernatural ensemble shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Penny Dreadful are few and far between, probably because they not only juggle multiple plot arcs but also a complex world with its own rules and developments. Plus, unlike early seasons of Carl messing up everything, Penny Dreadful’s first season doesn’t feature any weak, helpless characters. Sure, sometimes a character may be possessed by the devil or suffering a case of nocturnal amnesia, but everyone is capable of handling themselves in a tight situation. Except for my favorite character who dies in the second episode but that’s neither here nor there.
Are you feeling The Walking Dead fatigue, too? If so, what pop culture cures work for you? Share your suggestions in the comments.