Despite the massive audience that tunes in weekly to see who will live and who will die in AMC's zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead has taken a rocky road since its very first season. The show was originally adapted from the incredibly popular comic series by Frank Darabont, the man responsible for adapting Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption, but he was ousted after the first season, and the show struggled -- and continues to struggle -- to find a coherent narrative. But these struggles haven't stopped it from bringing to life a cruel fantasy world in which governments and social systems are toppled and man is returned to a state of nature. Can virtue survive in a world where death is around every corner, where to be kind and generous is to expose yourself to betrayal?
The show's strength is in locating humanity -- love and affection as much as fear and hatred -- in a nightmare. The central character, sheriff-turned-unofficial-group-leader Rick Grimes, has to constantly balance the demands of being in charge, demands that often require him to be cold and calculating, with his role as a husband and father and friend, a recognizable dilemma for many men.