This post will contain spoilers for The Walking Dead up to the latest episode
Ok, so this is quite a hot button issue, so I’m not going to let the fact that I’m a big fan of the show get in the way, but I just want to quickly cover why I think it may or may not be one of TV’s most diverse shows.
Firstly, let’s establish that as much as anyone likes this show, it has its problems, some small, some massive. It fell down during its third season and has been slowly recovering, and now, on the 6th season, I think it’s as good as it’s ever been.
I think part of that is to do with the diversity on display, in race, sexuality and gender, and at the moment, The Walking Dead seems to be in a comfortable groove, both with its crowd-pleasing action and character drama.
The show has famously had a problem in killing off its black characters, as does it’s sister show ‘Fear the Walking Dead’, and whilst there is a strong sense that it isn’t a resolved problem, there is a stronger racial diversity than the show has yet had. This is in part to the growth of the cast with the introduction of Alexandria, and the reintroduction of fan favourite Morgan back into the cast.
The show has always had a problem with killing of its character gratuitously, such as Beth last season, as well as the fairly unnecessary deaths of both Tyreese and Noah, two black characters, who got decent send off’s, but didn’t have much of a strong legacy behind them. This is a problem that has stuck around since Season 3 and does drag the show back when it’s getting back out in front.
You have the core main characters, Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Carol and Carl, who I don’t think will get killed off that easy, but, beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess who will go next.
There are no more “Token” black characters, accusations that T-Dog once filled out this role, most likely proved true, and now there is a better balance on display, characters such as Michonne, Morgan and Sasha, each proving to be interesting and engaging characters, amongst others.
One of the main core characters from the outset of the show has been Glenn Rhee, played by Korean American actor Stephen Yeun, and Rosita Espinosa is a Hispanic character, who was introduced in season 4. Both present different ethnicities beyond White American and African American characters, and even though Rosita needs to become more developed, Glenn has survived many a brush with death.
I want to pause to reflect on how this shouldn’t be an issue at all, and I happen to think Orange is the New Black is the most diverse show out there, but I think it’s important to highlight the correct steps the show is taking, even if it has a number of large issues yet to solve.
In The Walking Dead, there is a great core of exceptionally strong female characters. Carol has proven to be, time and again, to be a deeply layered, powerful, and thoroughly engaging character, whilst Michonne, Sasha, Tara and most recently new character Dr Denise, have all proven to be well written and interesting people. There are problems in the form of Maggie, who has sadly had little to do as of late, and Rosita, who hasn’t been developed enough, even though she’s been around for over a season.
Still, Carol is many a fan favourite character, and many think she should be the main character if current leader Rick Grimes were to die, her journey from abused housewife to strong, independent woman has been the show’s greatest strength. There’s a good variety of female characters that have varying degrees of development, much like the male characters.
The less diverse issue in the show is sexuality, there are gay and lesbian characters in the show, but not a lot, though of course not everyone’s sexuality has been completely written off. Aaron, Tara and Denise have fully realised characters, but they’re not quite considered to be part of the core ensemble. Daryl Dixon was previously rumoured to be gay after it was never defined that he was heterosexual, Norman Reedus even championed it, but we haven’t yet got a definitive answer.
It would be a big step for the show if the writers went ahead with it, as Daryl is the show’s breakout character and has one of the most interesting backgrounds, it wouldn’t necessarily change his character, but could give the show a boost of confidence and be a big step forward for a mainstream network show.
There is nothing current beyond this yet, no transgender characters, for example, but I don’t see there being a problem in bringing more diverse characters into the show. Even though there is no need to reveal sexuality in an apocalypse, it would add more realism to a wild fantasy show, which is something The Walking Dead has always strived for.
What do you all think? The Walking Dead is a hugely popular show, and whilst it does have its problems it still has a loyal fanbase and greatly improved in quality recently. There are more actors of colour than there used to be, non-heterosexual and multiple strong female characters, and yes, there could be more, but is the show going in the right direction at the moment?
This post is me really stating my opinion, and, as a fan, I can also see a lot of the bad points of the show, as well as the good. I think all I ever want to do is just start a discussion, this is such a big subject that I think it deserves to be covered.
Whether you like the show or not, tell me your thoughts.
P.S. Also let me know if I’m off the mark, spoke out of turn, said anything wrong. Thanks 🙂