Zombies may be swarming the earth, but one of the only places they haven’t taken over is with the major award ceremonies. It’s great to see that two of the hottest shows on TV right now are Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. They’re both genre shows, and thankfully they’re also playing a big hand in finally bringing reality TV to an end.
So why did The Walking Dead get the shaft from the Emmys this year? Well, as a long time student of horror movies and TV shows, I know that the genre just gets no respect from serious quarters. Even with rave reviews from serious critics, I’m not surprised The Walking Dead got shut out by the Emmys.
As Mary McNamara, the TV critic for the L.A. Times, headlined her report, “Walking Dead’s Zombies Are Beneath Snobbish Academy,” and she laments, “You would think the television academy, of all institutions, would understand the shortsightedness of genre elitism…Mad Men may have set the template for the new basic-cable-goes scripted model that every network and streaming service is now following, but The Walking Dead made it critically acclaimed and commercially viable.”
McNamara adds, “But it’s about, you know, zombies…they draw the line at the undead.”
The Times is clearly preaching to the converted, and The Walking Dead is clearly a show that appeals to more than horror fans. The best horror stories transcend genre and can appeal to many people, whether they love the genre or not. After all, George Romero’s movies had a lot to say about politics and socialism. To paraphrase Freud, a cigar wasn’t always just a cigar.
There have been many great horror films throughout history, and only one that ever won Best Picture, Silence of the Lambs. So what if horror doesn’t get mainstream respect? Zombies especially were always the working class monsters, especially considering Romero put them in his hometown, the blue collar community of Pittsburgh. The people get it, and love it, and that’s all that should matter.