Recently it was announced that AMC is producing a third series in the Walking Dead universe, which will air in 2020. This new series will reportedly follow two young female protagonists, who bear the distinction of being from the first generation of people raised in the zombie apocalypse. AMC Entertainment president Sarah Barnett has already stated that the goal is (in part) to explore, "more stories to be told in our world about complicated women."
While this announcement has been viewed as exciting news by the Walking Dead die-hard fans, there are also those who feel the franchise (at least the TV side) is losing at lot of steam. The last two seasons of The Walking Dead have seen series leads Rick and Carl Grimes both leave / get killed off; big supporting characters like Maggie and Jesus have also stepped away; while the upcoming season 10 will see Michonne stepping away, as well. The first spinoff show Fear the Walking Dead has had to go through a complete soft reboot of its concept and cast, after struggling to capture the same audience as the master series.
While there is indeed an argument to be made that The Walking Dead should die off, this new series concept is actually one that could revitalize the series in a big way. How do we know? Because it basically is tapping on one of the most consistently successful elements of the franchise!
Child characters have always been a tricky prospect in The Walking Dead. A retrospective on the years of hate that Chandler Riggs' Carl received from the fandom could fill an entire article on its own; however, Carl did get some big well-received moments, like in the season 3 and 4 storylines that explored how the young boy was starting to morph into a hardcore killer, totally detached from the usual sense of empathy and human connection we associate with kids. Once identified, that thematic line has continued to run through The Walking Dead, resulting in other infamous storylines and moments - such as the season 4 episode "The Grove", which finally revealed that young Lizzie Samuels was actually a deranged killer, who went so far as to kill her sister Mika, and almost did the same to Judith Grimes. Lizzie's nonchalant attitude about these henious acts once again brought up the thematic notion of what happens when children are raised in the extreme violence and savagery of the zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead continued to touch upon that theme in later seasons, with characters like Edith, Fear's big evolution of Alicia Clark, or the most recent season of TWD, with the season 9 episode "Scars", which explored a dark vision of children turned zombieland marauders, forcing Michonne to do the unthinkable in a fight for her life. The theme is still running now, as young Judith Grimes grows into maturity, and tries to make sense of her place in this horrific world order.
The bottom line in: kids and death have proven to be one of The Walking Dead's most potent mixes, which is why this new series has so much potential built into its concept.
The Kids Aren't Alright
Taking in account how powerful the idea of children caught up in the world of The Walking Dead has been, this new series sounds like it is essentially distilling the best of those loose thematic threads into one focused storyline.
The Walking Dead is mostly caught up in characters brooding over what the world once was, and who they once were, before the rise of hell on Earth forced them to become something darker. A lot of it is concerned with trying to reclaim the civilized parts of one's humanity, and re-establish the bonds of community - but what if you never, ever knew these things to begin with?
This new Walking Dead series will be able to mine plenty of intrigue for its initial 10-episode run, just exploring the notion of who two young ladies grow into, without being surrounded (boxed in?) by all of the societal standards we know. It's not just about the darker associations to things like killing or losing loved ones - ideas of what it is to be empowered, or never knowing certain gender roles (while encountering others who do) is an juicy socio-philosophical notion in an of itself. And given how deeply fans have reacted to things like Carol's evolution from battered wife to zombieland badass, this new series and its "complicated female characters" could indeed forge much stronger emotional connections to the viewers.
Finally, given the current socio-political climate, the show would be a powerful metaphor for how the future generation raised in a time of great social divisiveness and moral erosion will develop, and all the problems they will face. In short: it sounds like just the kind of show Chandler Riggs' Carl would've loved to star in (me he rest in peace).
The Walking Dead returns for its 10th season in October. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season on June 2nd. For complete coverage watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes on Facebook.com/ComicBookNOW.
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