Dear The Walking Dead,
For years I heard of the way you swept over the nation, taking over the minds of millions of viewers. Every week people would come up and ask me, “Hey, did you watch The Walking Dead last night?” to which I would respond with a defiant, “no.” I was currently watching Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones at the time and was under the impression that I didn’t need another show. I refused to believe that you were worth my time. I cast you aside like a worthless hunk of zombie flesh. How was I to know of your true beauty? How was I supposed to know that my life just wasn’t complete without you? After all, every time I asked one of the viewers about you, they would tell me how last episode seemed “slow” or that you were simply “alright,” yet I would watch as your critics would tune in every week without fail. It was as if they felt that they were not supposed to love you as much as they do. What I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry that I and everyone else has taken you for granted.
Three years ago, whilst I was sitting in my buddy’s basement after consuming large amounts of alcohol, I stumbled over to the leather chair, flipped on the projector, and managed to start playing your first episode. I made it probably fifteen minutes, but turned it off as Rick Grimes stumbled through a deserted hospital, filled with flickering lights and rotting corpses because, honestly, it scared the hell out of me. So I forgot about you for a while, until last year when I watched a couple of episodes from your third season with my brother. I was completely lost but found some kind of draw towards you, so I started watching your first season. That time together was wonderful. Lots of shooting, smashing in heads, and people getting eaten alive. Everything a healthy relationship needs.
I felt sorry for each character, especially Shane, as they fought for their lives through a world that had completely gone to Hell. I was completely in love with you but, for some reason, felt afraid to admit it to myself. After finishing the first episode of your second season, I was left nearly shaking. Watching as these characters hid under cars as hordes of walkers roamed by was tense and terrifying, yet I loved every minute of it. But something happened after this episode and I stopped watching. I’m not sure what exactly that something was, but I want you to know that it wasn’t you, it was me.
Finally, months later, I began writing an essay on zombies and told myself, “You know, I should hit up Walking Dead again. You know, just to see how it’s doing. It doesn’t really have to mean anything or get weird between us, just see how it’s holding up is all,” which has brought upon my new love affair. For about two weeks now I have been watching you everyday. Not for research, but because I just can’t get enough. I have been binging you, watching at least three episodes during each sitting, which seems to eliminate what most dislike about you—the feeling that you have “slow” episodes. This makes your “slow” episodes not only bearable, but enjoyable, as they provide relaxation after more intense and zombie-filled episodes, as well as excellent character development. You see, other people just don’t understand you like I do. If they would only spend as much time with you at once as I have, they would understand that these “flaws” are really just another side of you to be appreciated and loved.
The world you have created is everything every guy has dreamed up. A world of pure anarchy where all we do is get to bash zombies’ heads in and prove who is better at survival. Every guy I know has some precautionary plan in their mind of what they would do if zombies began roaming the streets. We all think our plans would be perfect, that we alone could survive the endless hordes of the undead, but you take almost every one of these plans and show us how incredibly flawed they are and how screwed we would be during a zombie-apocalypse. Maybe that is why we love you so much. The decisions your characters make are not stupid or idiotic, but are reasonable and are decisions we all could see ourselves making. But that’s only one reason I love you so much.
The way you get me attached to each character, then take them away right before my eyes (reminding me so much of my previous obsession with Game of Thrones) keeps me terrified, yet unable to keep my distance. I need to know what happens. I need to know who survives.
You showed me Shane, the protagonist’s best friend and partner who took over as the father figure when Rick was presumed dead, get scorned by Rick’s wife for letting her believe Rick was dead, only to later reveal that he did everything in his power to try to save Rick and keep his wife and son safe.
You showed the stunning development of Shane’s character that lead him down a road of insanity and brutality, leaving me agape in your brilliance as he unloaded his pistol into a walker’s body and unleashed a barn full of them only to prove a point, culminating in Rick killing him in an amazing scene that left me almost in tears.
Then you had T-Dog, one of the most beloved and normal characters, accompany the group to the prison, only to be torn apart by walkers to save another. And Lori, who many characters seemed to dislike (which I will never understand), died possibly the most horrific death to date to save the life of her unborn child, leaving her son to be the one to shoot her in the head to keep her from turning.
Even the Governor, the most notable antagonist, who gave a stunning performance that made the third season amazing, left me feeling sympathetic after the death of his undead daughter and his merciless quest to take over the prison.
I better not bring up Hershel or else I will be left in tears.
I was told of each of these character deaths well in advance, yet they still left me feeling heartbroken. In short, you are brutal and I love you for it. You aren’t afraid to hurt me and leave me heartbroken, but only when you know it is truly the best thing for me.
You keep me on edge as I pray to whatever deity I can think of that the remaining characters will survive at least for another week. From your first episode, I have loved and pitied your antagonist, Rick Grimes, as he is forced to make impossible decisions and to watch as his family is torn apart. I love Glenn’s comedic role as the awkward and sarcastic one of the group. Then there is the fan-obsession with the shaggy-haired, redneck, crossbow-master Daryl Dixon, who has stolen the hearts of many viewers, not just for his acclaimed good-looks, but for his zombie-killing skill, his “I don’t give a damn” attitude, and his unexpected soft side soft side. I could go on forever listing the characters I love and giving limitless reasons why I do (and it is killing me not to mention Machonne, Carol, Merle, Carl, Maggie, and many more) but I simply don’t have enough space to do so.
So I’m sorry, Walking Dead, that people don’t seem to love you as much as they should. It is true, some episodes do feel slow since they are purely character development. Though binging you does seem to get rid of this feeling, in your critics’ defense, not everyone has time to watch three episodes at a time. And binging is also impossible for your most loyal fans who want to watch each episode as soon as it premiers, waiting an entire week only to watch a group talk amongst each other for forty-five minutes. Many found these problems most prominent in the second season, as the group plays house on a farm for about thirteen episodes, and in the fourth season as characters find themselves separated and you delve into Beth’s teen drama, leaving entire episodes devoted to only a few characters, without much progress to the storyline. Do not misunderstand me. The second and fourth seasons are probably my favorites, but this is only because I flew through them. Your critics have very good points and you need to listen to them. I know it may seem cruel for me to ask you to change, but you should want to be the best television show you can be. All I ask is that you have plot progression with each episode, instead of spending entire episodes solely on character development.
Other than that, you are an amazing show and I truly do love you, Walking Dead, and don’t you ever forget that. Many seem to focus solely on your flaws, while not realizing that without you, we would have a giant hole in our hearts that could only be filled by your mastery over the world of the zombie-apocalypse.
I will always love you,
If Daryl dies, we revolt