Defense of The Living Dead – WALKING DEAD

beth2 walking-dead-lori Andrea-the-walking-dead-16919147-840-6001“Omg, Beth. Stop bragging about your breathing and living and stuff.” – Andrea, in my mind

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

If you think these three women are the new Charlie’s Angels, I encourage you to get off the crack. However, if you recognize these three characters, chances are you’re a Dead Head and cringe at the sight of them. Your geeky blood boils thinking about the roles they play on the series The Walking Dead.  From left to right we have Beth (the youthful, babysitting singer), Laurie (once a partially devoted wife and mother), and Andrea (the gun enthusiast who can’t wield a wrench to save her life…literally.)   This article will evaluate the hate that has been thrust upon these characters and why they should not be condemned near as much as they are by viewers.

Andrea has been on the show since season 1. She was played by Laurie Holden (known for X-files and Silent Hill). Andrea has been the target of frustration since her near suicide in season 1. She was criticized for her treatment of Dale (a kindly old man that forced her into not killing herself, to which she held great resentment). Mostly, though? She was blasted for her affair with the most despicable villain on the show (so far)…the Governor. People were pretty annoyed that she didn’t return to her original group once discovering they were alive and equally pissed that she wasn’t able to fend off one walker in a locked room, though she had taken on many more in the past. There was anger that she let Michonne walk out on her own (especially since Michonne had protected and cared for her when there was no one else). However, it was one of Andrea’s last lines that made me take a step back. Suffering from a nasty bite, she looks at Rick and apologizes. She says that she simply wanted to save everyone. That’s honorable. How can you really hate that desperation to save the world (unrealistic as it may be)? Let’s look at a possible timeline of psychology for her. First, she survived an apocalyptic event only to watch her sister (only remaining relative) get killed. Then, grieving that loss, she chooses to stay in the CDC that is about to blow up to avoid any more loss. Except that Dale won’t leave without her. Again, she can’t handle being responsible for another loss, so she sees him out of the building. Not wanting to be close to anyone she cares for, she treats Dale like garbage (reinforced by her nuzzling up to crazy, emotionally f*cked up, but oh so sexy “Shane”). He dies. She’s pushed further into grief. While fighting off illness, she begs Michonne to leave her to die.  In Woodbury, Andrea is so desperate for the first impression to be real…to have found peace and sanctuary that she buys into the Governor’s lies. She has a chance to kill him, but again…she doesn’t want to be responsible for another death. Despite all of her choices being bad, they were for deeply good reasons. She wanted to save everyone, realizing too late that this was impossible. Let’s get real. Shane caused more grief and disruption and it was mostly for selfish reasons (wanting to be leader…wanting Rick’s family…) Speaking of Rick’s family…

Laurie Grimes is probably the most hated of the three in question. Laurie hooked up with her husband’s best friend, left Carl countless times, and was unsympathetic about her husband having to murder his friend in self-defense. Yeah, that sounds pretty crap-tastic. On the other hand, here are some facts to keep in mind. Laurie thought her husband was dead and mostly likely turned to Shane for comfort because he was familiar. If anything, Shane was thinking more clearly and shares some of that responsibility. In relation to that, people accused her of leading Shane on. Wow, can you say “blame the victim?” If your spouse had died and you moved on only to have your dead spouse return, would you be so quick to ditch your feelings for the “other person?”  She had obviously developed feelings for Shane on some level and was trying to be “friends” with Shane, who simply wanted more (remember the “leading up to a rape” scene in Season 1?).  She recognized her loyalty to her husband and recognized Shane’s pain of losing what he though he had. How would YOU handle that? Her reaction to Rick killing Shane was out of line, but she had just found out her ex was dead. That’s rather shocking news. I think she needed a reality check, which she was coming to when they arrived at the prison. She apologized and tried to be a better wife. Audiences gave her no slack, where I doubt in real life they would have had any better reactions for lesser reasons. A lot of times that she left Carl was to help her husband or work through a problem. It’s not like she left him in a truck, in a parking lot, while she went boot-scootin’ at the local bar. Laurie was not my favorite character, but she was far from the harpy people made her out to be.

Harpies make noise, so perhaps that’s the best lead-in to our final pariah; Beth. Beth is sister to Maggie, daughter to (a now deceased) Herschel, and a folk singer. Most often left to babysit baby Judith or (in earlier shows) Carl or cry when something bad happens, Beth is coined as being pointless and annoying. Fans of the show all but rioted at the thought of Daryl and Beth being romantic (not only because of age, but because they wanted him with Carol). People don’t like her singing, also. Perhaps the foundation for Beth’s annoyance comes from her age. Carl was an obvious child in season 1 and 2. His actions and behavior are that of a child; curious, impulsive, and needy. Beth was at a strange age. She wasn’t a woman and not a child. It was an awkward age in an awkward scenario. First, she watched her family die (except for…”Mouth”…I mean…Maggie) in front of her; Mother died some unknown way, then shot in the head as a walker, another two relatives became zombie food in a camper and right out of her hands, and her dad was beheaded by the Governor. Forgive her for not living up to her full potential or finding an Asian to bang away her grief. The romance? I found the Daryl / Beth relationship to be more about a brother/sister bond and Beth’s coming into her own identity. While I find Carol and Daryl to be a bit too unbalanced with both of them being grungy people unafraid to kill, Beth provides a counterweight to Daryl’s hard exterior. She’s the innocence the characters should be fighting to protect, otherwise it is just pointless death and killing. The goal shouldn’t be to kill, but to protect that which keeps them human. Beth’s singing is the attachment to that “humane world” they all want to live in. Without people like her or Judith, they make forget things like civility and compassion. Besides, if Daryl had coughed in Season 4, Carol would have killed him and torched his body.

While this may not have changed anyone’s mind, this logic is what keeps me watching the show. The levels of the characters unfolding like layers of skin on a dinner plate from Terminus provide substance to otherwise redundant show. Simply “liking” or “hating” a character oversimplifies people; who are far more complex and flawed than we want to admit. Because if we admit that about people in tv and film, we would have to admit that about ourselves. Want to hate someone? Hate Judith. That girl doesn’t contribute at all. She refuses to hold a gun, is constantly thinking about her own needs, and will not tell her dad and brother she loves them. B*tch.

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