It's zombies vs zombies! And Maria Jasmine is your commentator...
Building on the success of The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead had one of the strongest starts in the history of spin-offs. Ratings were consistently higher than they were for the first season of the parent show, and it was picked up for a second season (with twice as many episodes) before the first was even completed. But while Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead have much in common (including their overwhelming success), they have also gone to great lengths to tell their own separate stories with their own stories casts of characters.
It’s interesting to see the different settings and plots of each show. While The Walking Dead is set in a seemingly rural area in the south, Fear is in the busy city of LA. We are dropped right into the middle of the apocalypse with Rick diving headfirst into the zombie action. This works to capture our attention but we are ultimately left with numerous questions that we expected Fear to answer. Of course, they’re not answered but the companion series ultimately lets us watch the beginning of the end of the world and how humanity is choosing to deal with it (spoiler: it’s everyone for themselves). Travis has the hardest time dealing with reality, trying to be as peaceful as possible, much like Rick in his first season. However, this goes south in the finale episode when he finally breaks and makes decisions to survive instead of trying to be friendly with other people.
The main characters of The Walking Dead have long been loved and loathed in equal measure. While Daryl is the hero that makes audiences swoon, Lori was the wife that seemed almost universally hated for her poor choices and argumentative nature. While Rick is the leader that keeps fighting no matter what and will lead his group into hell and back if necessary, the Governor was the leader that lied and manipulated his people in order to build a utopia that was doomed for failure. Each of the main characters on the show is strong and memorable in their own way, whether that is a way that keeps viewers cheering for them to survive or hoping to see them killed off.
So far, those on Fear the Walking Dead haven't reached the level of extreme love or hatred that their original show counterparts have. While Christopher is an annoying teenager and Travis has seemed too weak-willed to survive in a zombie-infested world, neither has become so bothersome that fans are hoping they'll get eaten. And between the female leads - Maddie, Ofelia, Alicia and Liza - they've had moments where their choices didn't seem like the best ideas, but they haven't devolved into Lori levels of obnoxious yet. Of course, they've only had six episodes to present themselves so far and the real trials will be beginning now that they are escaping LA next season. Only time will tell if they'll become strong characters viewers will root for (like Carol or Maggie) or weak ones that fans will want to see killed off.
The zombies themselves also play a significant part in moving along each story. While there is more action, hordes, and zombie-killing in The Walking Dead, Fear is more reserved in their screen time. Although the companion series was criticized for this fact, it makes sense. During the beginnings of a zombie outbreak, we wouldn’t see the vast amount of them like we do in The Walking Dead. Additionally, our characters have the right to be confused as zombies are still works of fiction to them.
One thing the shows have in common in dealing with zombies is the very real-world threats they represent. Everything from climate change to global illness is personified in these zombies, but many may not realize it as it doesn’t directly affect them. However these disasters are possibly even more terrifying than actual zombies. USA Today has claimed that fossil fuels could run out in as few as 53 years if we do not take advantage of other resources soon and according to the WHO, cancer and diabetes caused deaths have increased in recent years. In both shows, the threat is painfully obvious, but in reality they can sneak up on us if we don’t pay attention.
By looking at the ratings of shows such as The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead it is obvious that the popularity of such media is far from waning. Whatever the reason, as long as the ratings stay strong and audience reception stays positive, The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead will keep working hard to give audiences exactly what they crave. You can catch all episodes of both shows on AMC’s website or cable, and Hulu.
Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and
horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops
around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles,
Franklin and Roy.