Friday, March 9, 2012

Too Many Characters Killed My Story

I finished watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead ("Judge, Jury, and Executioner"). Then... I made the mistake of reading a review on the Huffington Post. I tend to do this sort of thing... so shoot me. And by the way--***spoiler alert***

With all the uproar about poor character development, unrealistic writing (um, zombies aren't real folks--duh), and other belly-aching, I think many detractors of the show are missing a key point.

The Walking Dead suffers from a glut of characters.

Far too many characters for any of us (viewers) to care about. And that's what fiction should do, right? Make us care about the characters. I understand AMC has made a staffing change in the writing department. That can cause issues... sure. Until a zombie eviscerates Dale in the final five minutes of "Judge, Jury, and Executioner", we (the viewers) haven't seen a good ol' fashioned zombie-killed-my-loved-one moment since Sophia disappeared in the first episode of season two. (Let's face it: we all knew she was dead, right?)  Let's knock off a few others while we're at it, okay? Cull the herd a bit.

It's only fiction.

The search for Sophia which dominated the first half of season two allowed some serious insight into great characters like Daryl (the most fully rendered of all the characters so far). The wishy-washy debate about Randall's fate has left me with the bitter taste of "I don't care about these people anymore".

And that, dear friends, is when I stop watching.

And no--this post isn't just about The Walking Dead. Every character in every story needs a purpose. If not, they're just in the way.

I keep telling myself that... Maybe I'll start listening.


Daniel Powell said...

Wow! After last night's episode, things are going in entirely interesting and scary directions. Can't say I'm not pleased to see Rick protect himself last night...

Sophia said...

I don't watch The Walking Dead (not a zombie fan) but your post brought LOST to mind. My husband and I once tried to count all the characters in LOST and gave up around 80. The show lived up to its name for me because I couldn't keep track of it. And the brilliance of the original season *was* the characters--I cared about so many of them. I wish the writers had just stuck with them, but it was like they couldn't come up with new material for them, so they kept adding new people.