Like most people, I watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead anxious to see how they’re going to deal with the (in my opinion) the most ridiculously contrived plan to herd zombies. (One well placed Molotov cocktail, people…) As you may know (again, spoilers) it’s looking like Glen didn’t make it. My phone explodes, my friends who are fans are freaking out; and all I could say is “I just rolled my eyes.”
Is it bad to say I’m bored with it? Because I’m kinda bored with it.
I don’t mean the show. I mean the killing of a character as shock value when you can easily see about 20 ways for that NOT to happen. Like with Tyreese… All of a sudden the normally noisy, groaning walkers can silently creep up on a guy? TWICE? And it’s not the first time that’s happened in this series. It’s really starting to seem like that as an audience member, I’m being messed with not being told an awesome story. I get that tension is important, conflict is important; that’s what makes these stories so compelling. That’s what keeps us coming back every week. But now I get the feeling they’re just trying to jerk me around.
Walking Dead isn’t the only show that’s giving me this fatigue; Game of Thrones lost my interest for this same reason. George R.R Martin can be quoted as saying “I’ve been killing characters my entire career, maybe I’m just a bloody minded bastard, I don’t know, [but] when my characters are in danger, I want you to be afraid to turn the page (and to do that) you need to show right from the beginning that you’re playing for keeps.” and he’s damn right. The feeling that everyone is always safe can get boring. However, getting through many seasons of a show only to find out a character I love has died can sometimes make me feel like I wasted my time. I stopped watching Game of Thrones because I knew who was gonna kick the bucket and where spoilers usually don’t bother me at all (especially when I come into a show with 3-4 seasons under it’s belt already), taking time out of my life to get emotionally attached to a character knowing I’m not going to get any sort of satisfaction? No completed character arc? It kinda sucks.
Don’t get me wrong; real life is like that. People die for no reason, cheaters don’t get a comeuppance, liars get away with millions, thieves get a slap on the wrist and their victims are expected to be happy about it. But that’s what watching these shows is about, escapism. Entertainment. Fun. But this “HaHA! Gotcha, fuckers!” feeling gets me when I watch these shows now. That’s why when my friends say “I can’t wait to see what happens next week!” I just shrug and say, “I kinda don’t care.”
I am not saying these shows are bad or anything of the sort. I’m just not as excited to see what happens next anymore. It’s the same feeling when you scream at the movie “Woman, why are you running from the serial killer UP the stairs!?” or “Of course there is magically no signal on their cellphones at THIS moment.” or “Yes, you should totally back into the dark room instead of calling the cops. The killer won’t TOTALLY be in there.” I don’t feel a payoff. There isn’t a core group I can watch change and evolve over time; someone’s gotta kill someone to shock the audience so the internet can explode with theories as to what happened and how.
I still feel the need to say I’m not criticizing the overall quality of the series, or the writers, or anything like that. It’s just a trend I’m noticing and these are the two most prevalent examples. If you want a throwback, when they killed Willow’s girlfriend in Buffy. Or when Joss Whedon offs any random character, really. Or when “The Black Guy” dies in a horror movie. You just shrug and go; “Well, that happened again.” It’s not BAD, just not surprising anymore.
So, there’s why I don’t care if Glen is dead – in the show – and why I really did stop reading the comic after they killed him in the comics. It’s why I’ll probably get around to watching Game of Thrones but can’t promise I will. It’s why I CANNOT WATCH THE END OF SERENITY, DAMNIT, and the last season of Xena even had me shaking my head in disbelief. Shit, even Z Nation did this to me! That’s why I’m coining this phrase: when a series no longer shocks you when characters die because it’s happened so often is Character Death Fatigue.
At least for me. I’m sure I’ll continue to have people freak out on me because I feel this way. If it makes you feel any better? I’ll probably watch next week. Because there are other characters they haven’t offed. Yet…