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Does The Walking Dead need a lighter side?

Does 'The Walking Dead' turn off some viewers because it takes itself so seriously? Is there room for humor in this stylized, character-driven slow burn of a show?

When I look at my viewing habits honestly, I am forced to admit that I watch a lot of shows based on the supernatural. Some I love more than others, though, and I think I’ve found the key to a balanced, complex, satisfying formula — these shows simply cannot take themselves too seriously.

For the purpose of this post, I’ve got to stick to discussing the shows I watch, which are Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Being Human US, The Walking Dead, Warehouse 13, American Horror Story and Teen Wolf. And those are just the ones currently airing (so no Buffy, Angel, etc., though they would fit in perfectly with the subject of this post).

Supernatural is my favorite example of not taking itself seriously, with perfection. From the spoof episodes to the one-liners to the blatant making fun of themselves, this show hits the humor from every angle, without it taking away from the serious side of the show and the strong character development.

The shows on my list that do this in the weakest ways are probably Warehouse 13, because it tends to get fluffy at times, and Teen Wolf, a show that is desperately trying but hasn’t quite found its groove. I recntly wrote that we need more interaction between Derek and Stiles and less of the Stiles antics; he just doesn’t play it like Nick Brendon‘s Xander.

One of my watched shows is not like the others, because I do believe that The Walking Dead takes itself very seriously … and that’s one of the weaknesses I find in the show. There really isn’t a character who offers comic relief like Pete Lattimer, there’s no one who can deliver the zingers like Dean Winchester and Damon Salvatore. Some may say that’s because the zombie apocalypse is no laughing matter, but I’d say it’s a weakness in the writing (or maybe just a preference of this viewer). Playing Devil’s advocate for a moment — even if a show is serious business, isn’t it OK to have a little relief once in a while? I’m not saying The Walking Dead needs to change its style, just that a lighter side would make it more watchable for this viewer.

The Walking Dead absolutely relies on strong character development … but so does Supernatural. It relishes the slow burn, not unlike American Horror Story. Every supernatural-based show that I watch has a distinct darker side; that’s not something I’m opposed to, in fact, I welcome it. But I just find The Walking Dead a bit heavy-handed with the drama, the angst, the futility and inevitable collapse of humanity. I’m not suggesting campiness, goofiness or anything that would cheapen the effect in any way, just some hope through humor.

Without taking away from the distinct style The Walking Dead has built for itself, do you think it could incorporate a sense of humor, somehow? The only time I laugh is when the lumbering, brainless attacking zombies actually overpower the nimble humans … and I don’t think I’m supposed to. Would adding some element of taking itself less seriously make the show more watchable for you? Or maybe its diversion from the typical style of a supernatural-based TV show is what makes it successful for you. What do you think?

Photo Credit: AMC

10 Responses to “Does The Walking Dead need a lighter side?”

June 15, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Yeah. It needs a humorous side. I would use Breaking Bad as an example. Though it is a serious show, it constantly makes me laugh. Walking Dead needs more of this dark humor.

June 15, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Yes, Breaking Bad is the perfect example. I like the pacing of that show better and the humor elements would translate perfectly to TWD. Nice one! :-)

June 15, 2012 at 10:46 AM

. . . . .

Interestingly, I originally tuned into The Walking Dead because of the hype and the zombie apocalypse angle. Funny, however, neither of those two things necessarily trip my trigger whole-heartedly. The pilot for The Walking Dead was immediately gripping, engaging and, ultimately, gratifying. It’s why I decided to keep going back to it. I’m invested.

Humor? Yes. Every show should contain a “break” here and there so the audience can catch its breath. (Out-of-left-field aside: In the case of Saving Private Ryan, if memory serves, that freakin’ break didn’t come until 20 minutes or so into the flick. Edge. Of. Your. Seat.) The Walking Dead has got its “breaks” and comedy relief – they’re just vastly different from other shows:

Carl chucking rocks at a mudhole-caught walker. Shane’s snide remarks. Hershel’s response to Lori when she was quizzing him about his medical status: “You’re completely in over your head, aren’t you?” Hershel’s response? “Ma’am … aren’t we all?” (Best moment of that episode for me.) Remember Maggie’s comment to Glenn about condoms, something about 11 more tries at disappointment? Meryl was hilarious in all his redneck ways. The sometimes-innocence of Glenn is heartening. Dale had many moments of hilarity. And half the stuff that comes out of Daryl’s mouth produces a chuckle with me.

These instances are the perfect bits of comedy relief for me and in just the right amounts. So … to answer your question “… do you think it could incorporate a sense of humor,” my response is “It already does.”

June 15, 2012 at 11:03 AM

You know, I thought some people would think this (and I even thought one of them could be you!), but it’s just not enough for me. There was something so sad and pathetic and heartbreaking about that scene with Carl; I didn’t find the humor in it at all. And it’s the same with Shane — there was so much anger and despair and true human unkindness behind Shane that his remarks weren’t funny to me. I’m glad it’s enough for you, but I’m even now more convinced it can be done better without sacrificing what makes TWD great –Prakhar’s comment about Breaking Bad is exactly how it could work!

June 15, 2012 at 11:08 AM

. . . . .

To each his own. The comedy that crops up isn’t the “ho-ho, ha-ha” kind by any means. It’s more the right-side-of-your-mouth-turns-up sort. It’s rather sad and demented in an apocalyptic scenario way, but it’s there … and it’s enough for me.

The comedy elements in Breaking Bad work wonderfully. I don’t believe they would work to the same effect in The Walking Dead.

Good Gordness, Gal: Don’t you get it?!? I dig my mortifying zombie apocalypse shows dire, with angsty drama and destitute of hope! What … you want to see Bobcat Goldthwait in a walk-on role … !???


June 15, 2012 at 11:48 AM

It was pretty funny when Lori stole Maggie’s car and crashed it into a zombie…

June 15, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Ha! That was funny. I get my chuckles when T-Dog says, “Oh helllll nawwww”. That’s all I need in the way of humor. This is a dark, twisted story about surviving in a world where zombies or dangerous people lurk around every corner. Personally, I would be CONSTANTLY weighing the pros and cons of continuing to live. I wouldn’t be honing my comedic skills. The Puppies and Rainbows Brigade needs to keep their hands off my nihilistic dramas.

June 15, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Zombie in the well! That entire episode just built up to that disgustingly hilarious punchline.

For a show I like to compare to Lost (what with a bunch of strangers pushed together forced to find a way to survive and rebuild a “soceity”) The Walking Dead certainly does not have a Hurley type, but it’s never bothered me much.

June 16, 2012 at 4:20 AM

I think it’s hilarious every time someone yells, “Where is CARL?”.

June 19, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I prefer the current tone of TWD, with occasional humorous barbs by Darryl, Glenn and T-Dog. In the last month sources at AMC have alluded to the addition of a new character, Manuel, who in season 3 will supposedly add some comic elements to the storyline. I just hope they don’t push the concept too far…

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