Why “The Walking Dead” doesn’t exist in our universe
I was talking to my brother-in-law yesterday, and he brought up a good point when he noted that it’s weird that the characters in ‘The Walking Dead” don’t ever use the word “Zombie”. When the creators created their story, they made a choice not to use the word, but instead to avoid it completely, which creates a disconnect between the world that Rick and the gang live in and ours. Evidently in this parallel universe where the not only the word ‘zombie” doesn’t exist, but the entire history and culture that exists around zombie lore doesn’t exist either. That means none of the 19th and 20th century literature, art and movies that refer to zombies exists. I know this may seem insignificant to some people, but when I watch the show, it seems as if in avoiding the word they bring more attention to the fact that they are NOT saying it than they would if they just acknowledged that the word exists. As a writer, I know objectively why the creators didn’t want to acknowledge the lore of zombies in their story. They wanted to write a story that wasn’t ABOUT zombies, but about people, and how they deal with the loss of humanity and civilization, and it’s too easy to get all caught up in the lore that exists if you acknowledge that it exists. Zombie mythology is such a huge part of popular culture the writers would have too much baggage to deal with if they opened that box.
Obviously it’s a little late for the Walking Dead writers to start using the word, they are committed to never say the “Zed Word”, which I think they never thought would be a big deal when they were writing the comic book, but now that their little comic has become a cable TV juggernaut, the lack of acknowledgement of “zombie” places them in an awkward position. And for some, breaks the 4th wall a little when it comes to making us suspend our disbelief. It bugs me a little, but I’ll keep watching the show about an alien planet that looks a lot like Earth that has a serious zombie problem.