I watch it because it engages me like very few shows or movies do, why is that? Yes, I find its craftsmanship great but I also like the story and find it easy to overlook some flaws. I find most zombie movies and shows usually quite unwatchable, so what is it about this show that is different?
First, I think that both Walking Dead shows commit expansive resources to portraying large scale sets. I spend a lot of time looking at the backgrounds, it is very conducive to the visual medium and they squeeze all they can out of each scene. Los Angeles with empty streets and the power going out grid by grid delivers an impact that smooths over some aspects to the story I don't like.
So Zizek said, it' easier to imagine the end of all life on earth [or a zombie outbreak that destroys civilization] than it is to imagine a much more moderate change to capitalism [or The System], whatever you may want to call it. It is not just easier, it has a huge payoff emotionally. I get to imagine for an hour that my darkest fears about the resilience of our society are in fact completely justified. It's not an intellectual payoff, it is emotional, equal parts relief and self-righteousness.
Or if I look at it like McCluhan or Lacan, the medium is the message, what is on the screen is only a tiny part of what is going on, and I'm part of the medium itself, as I sit here watching, and even asking what am I not doing while I'm watching? Organizing for change, doing anything besides not consuming energy or causing trouble.
What if it is the hard core of all of us, spending a few hours a week imagining a more desperate time, that pulls in enough people who really need to hear that perspective, so that it actually brings about the change we are too lazy to do anything about.
Well I do like a good argument for doing nothing and keeping doing what I'm doing and it doesn't make any sense to take away my favorite shows and force myself to replace that time with a letter writing campaign so that we can upgrade our infrastructure.
Art is allowed to be an indulgence. The thousands of extras employed by these shows are all having the time of their lives. The characters do things sometimes that make no sense at all. It has that feeling Lost had at the beginning and how can it possibly end well? Am I like some 10 year old wishing I could get my Walking Dead decoder flashlight and walkie talkie set?
Yeah. And that's ok. People who find it too plodding or cornball have some good points but are going out of their way to overlook all the fun.
And relief and self-righteousness.