The Walking Dead has pushed many narrative boundaries in bringing horror to popular TV. Yet one glaring area where it maintains a familiar storyline is in the dominance of White heterosexual men. Women are not represented as leaders, there are a pitiful number of gay and lesbian characters (but no other sexual minorities) and people of colour are disposable. In a show that asks its loyal audience to suspend disbelief to imagine an improbable zombie apocalypse, why are gender, race and sexual inequalities taken for granted?
It is no accident that in a show about the end of the world as we know it — strong, independent women, irrepressible people of colour and other minorities, are rare. The Walking Dead story was conceived of by Robert Kirkman, a White male heterosexual graphic novel artist and developed for TV by Frank Darabont, a White heterosexual man. In imagining the end of the world, White straight dudes think they’ll be the last ones standing, and that White women, people of colour and other minorities will simply go along with the prevailing social order that led to the apocalypse in the first place. For all its strong points, The Walking Dead fails to conceive of a new vision for civilisation that breaks the dominance of Whiteness and patriarchy.
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- [Michonne grabs her katana off the mantelpiece.] The Walking Dead: Gender, Race & Sexuality
- [Rick and Michonne sit and chat] “Rick — what are you doing?” — Michonne
- “I know what you’re doing.” — Sasha
- “We’re going to work it out” — Maggie, with Glenn
- [Rosita and Tara smiling in the woods]
- “You’re a small, weak, nothing” — Carol
- [Rick and Morgan stare at one another with shock] Inequality is immune to the zombie apocalypse.
Images: Screen grabs from AMC’s The Walking Dead. Gifs by Zuleyka Zevallos.