Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is The Walking Dead a soap opera? And is that a bad thing?

I see a lot of people tossing the phrase “it’s becoming a soap opera” around about various shows like it’s a bad thing.

I saw it on Sunday when someone on the Internet said it about The Walking Dead.

First off, I’m a huge soap opera fan – and I don’t think that’s an insult. The genre has survived for decades for a reason.

Secondly, The Walking Dead television show is based on a comic book. And, quite frankly, comic books ARE soap operas. They’re just soap operas for boys.

Don’t believe me? Comic books are all random sex, back from the dead characters, long lost twins, reboots, recasts and past retconning. The same as soaps.

The complaint I read Sunday night was that, this season especially, The Walking Dead was turning into a soap opera because Carl was emotional about losing the prison and -- for all he knew -- everyone he had left in this world besides his father.

First off, if you’re going to steal something from someone, at least get it right. George A. Romeo is the one that started referring to  The Walking Dead as a soap opera. As the director of Night of the Living Dead, Romero has earned his spot in horror history.

As the director of Survival of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Land of the Dead, it’s not exactly like he’s infallible. He’s kind of a one-trick pony – and, if you watch the original Night of the Living Dead, that’s a soap opera if I ever saw one – so I don’t know what he’s complaining about. It sounds more like he's bitter because zombies are relevant again and he has nothing to do with it.

The truth is, there isn’t any show out there that doesn’t have elements of soap operas. Seriously, try to think of one.

Even sitcoms are soap operas, like the ongoing romantic foibles of Penny and Leonard on the Big Bang Theory.

There’s fantasy soap operas like Game of Thrones; soaps on motorcycles, like Sons of Anarchy; soaps with guns, like Justified; soaps with fancy accents, like Downton Abbey; soaps with cults, like The Following; soaps on procedurals, like the majority of the CBS lineup; soaps in late night, like the ouster of Jay Leno; and period soaps, like Mad Men.

Just because you hear a buzz word on something, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true -- or that truth is somehow bad.

Is The Walking Dead a soap opera? Absolutely.

It’s been a soap opera since the first season, though, when a character came back from the dead and found his wife fornicating with his best friend. Then that wife got knocked up by the best friend (maybe). Then that best friend tried to kill the back-from-the-dead character to lay claim to his wife.

Is that not a soap opera?

How about in the first season when Andrea and Amy bonded while fishing and then, after Amy died, Andrea wanted to kill herself but was talked out of it at the last minute? That's definitely a soapy twist.
And what about the source material? That’s a huge soap opera -- it's just on the written page. What with Tyrone romancing Carol but getting a little mouth action from Michonne, which causes Carol to kill herself.  Then there’s also changing sexual partners, religious cults, crazy governors, etc.

It’s all a soap opera people.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

If you have emotional relationships between characters, then you're accused of being a soap opera. If you don't have emotional relationships, then you don't have anything of any quality -- you just have people randomly beheading zombies. You can't have it both ways.

You can absolutely say you don't like the writing on The Walking Dead. Not everyone has to like the same things. Using someone else's excuse, though, is just kind of a lazy way to do it, in my opinion.

There are plenty of things out there that I don't like that others do, but I would hope that casting something off because it's a soap opera -- which all entertainment is, on some level -- wouldn't be one of my reasons.

I guess what I'm saying is this: If you like Downton Abbey despite the fact that it's a soap opera (an actual quote) constantly complaining about The Walking Dead because it is a soap opera doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

What do you think? Is The Walking Dead a soap opera?


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