I have not seen more than 4 seasons of The Walking Dead. Maybe 5. I'll be honest - they all blend together. I will also admit, I'm not the biggest fan of the zombie sub-genre. However, I am a fan of realistic relationships and surprisingly solid character development. I am a fan of Z Nation. Yes, it's Syfy channel. Yes, it is off the wall bonkers - and that's why it's a better, more enjoyable show than The Walking Dead.
Zombies are not a new phenomena. Romero's 1968 depiction of zombies as cannibalistic reanimated corpses is an undeniable classic, a watershed moment for the horror subgenre. Throughout the 70s and 80s zombies were undead and well from allegorical cautionary tales about consumerism (Dawn of the Dead Romero's 1978 sequel) to more humorous military industrial complex critiques (Return of the Living Dead 1985).
The 1990s put zombies to rest but starting in 2002 with 28 Days Later, the undead engines purred to life. What many thought was going to be another quick phase in popular culture outside the horror fan base, quickly became the thing to watch. While I do not enjoy The Walking Dead, I have to give credit where credit is due. It was instrumental in bringing more outright horror to the small screen.
Since 2010, audiences have been tuning in to witness the fate of the survivors in The Walking Dead. By the end of the third season it was already the most viewed show on cable or broadcast. The unprecedented popularity the show experienced from the series debut found many networks looking to follow suit. In 2011 American Horror Story premiered. 2013 introduced Bates Motel and Hannibal. 2014? Penny Dreadful, The Strain, and Z Nation. 2015 saw Fear the Walking Dead, iZombie, and Scream Queens. There have always been some supernatural or spooky show on television, a handful at once if we horror fans are lucky. It wasn't until The Walking Dead, and the popular cultural phenomena surrounding it, that the media industry realized that "scary" sells.
As the scary train continues picking up steam and revenue, horror fans have an ever increasing buffet of shows to sample from. Z Nation is the chocolate fountain at the dessert table, bringing any number of bizarre scenarios and homages together under the delicious drizzle of a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland.
Z Nation faces the ridiculousness of the situation, blending horror with humor and some surprisingly heartfelt moments. Despite not taking itself too seriously, I continually find myself thinking, "Well, how is the gang going to get out of this mess??" From 10K to Citizen Z I keep my fingers crossed when a forgotten Z busts out of some random corner or a freaky looking bald man is seen lurking around. What's more, the bond the characters have to each other feels more altruistic and more relatable than The Walking Dead.
At only 10 episodes a season, they get in and get out with the gory good time. Each season has a general mission that everyone is working to accomplish, which leaves plenty of room for "one off" episodes where things inevitably go bananas. In season two, the gang find themselves in Wisconsin where a giant wheel of cheese gets dislodged from its perch - crushing Zs on its cheddary downhill trip... from that to an upgraded spiked bat - now with an electrical shock component, to crazy "cat" ladies with a thing for Doc, I always look forward to tuning in next week.
What's your take on this - Would you rather hang out with Rick and the various lunatics they encounter? Or are you too busy rooting for Roberta? Let us know!