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George Romero: 'The Walking Dead' Is A Soap Opera With Occasional Zombie

posted by Robert Morgan on - last edited - Viewed by 22.1K users

"They asked me to do a couple of episodes of 'The Walking Dead' but I didn't want to be a part of it," Romero told The Big Issue. “Basically it's just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism and I find that missing in what’s happening now."

In 2011, Romero said he loves "The Walking Dead" comics, but hadn't seen any of the episodes at the time. "Listen I love Frank [Darabont], I know he's done a good job. I love the books, I never watched any of the episodes because… my zombies are sort of my own. I didn't want to be part of it. Producers called and said, 'do you want to direct some of these,' and I said no. Because I just didn't think it was me," he told io9.

I can't say I disagree with George here. I know the 'soap opera' aspect is what makes the show appealing to many of its fans, but for me personally, I prefer my zombie stories to be under two hours. To each their own.

  • Too lazy to read all of that but if he's talking about the TV series, he's totally right! The game on the other hand is a masterpiece :)

  • I sadly have to agree with him on this. This whole franchise puts human drama above zombie hacking and slashing, whether it be TV show, comics, or even the game.

    Also, what's funny is that in the comments of the article, there's a bunch of immature WD fans bashing Romero's movies just because of this little comment. C'mon, guys.

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      UndeadEuan BANNED

      I'm sorry but his movies are sheer awful. The Walking Dead catches people - his films don't. They're just stupid.

      • Wow...probably the most ignorant comment I have read in awhile. Congratz!

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          UndeadEuan BANNED

          Oh Prince_Charming, you never cease to cause annoyance.

          My opinion is not ' ignorant ' at all. Having seen the films, I can honestly say how awful they are.

          • So awful that they were met with critical acclaim, ripped off of countless times and hailed as classics to this very day?

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              UndeadEuan BANNED

              They're only classics because they were some of the first zombie films, and were made in the 70's. That's the only reason.

              Critics don't always know best, you should know.

              • That's the thing - they weren't "some of the first", they were the invention of the genre, period.

                Don't ask me why, but Night of the Living Dead replaced the basic concept of ghouls with zombies. Maybe back then, having a character use that description sounded more "real", since you'd be referring to what people pictured as voodoo-resurrected slaves. You know, mindless shambling, etc.

                This isn't all to say you're not entitled to your opinion on the actual films, it's just that brushing them off so casually in relation to The Walking Dead is a little silly. It's like dismissing Walt Disney as a feature-length animated film creator. Sure, you can hate him, but don't forget that Snow White is also the reason (and template) for the entire genre's existence.

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          Vainamoinen Moderator

          Cool it, please.

    • That is kind of the point though. This is about emotional turmoil, not hacking through zombies. To each their own.

    • This whole franchise puts human drama above zombie hacking and slashing, whether it be TV show, comics, or even the game.

      Erm...don't Romero's best forays into zombie-fiction do the very same thing?

      I frankly don't understand his point at all...unless he means how drawn out the interactions of the show are, to which I would say...well, it's a television series, and not a two-and-a-half hour movie, George.

      I feel bad for Romero because his work has become less and less profitable, and he's seen everyone else cop his basic idea.

    • I don't know about that. There's been plenty of hacking and slashing in season 4 so far, along with, yes, human drama. I think they finally struck a good balance between the two, at least so far.

    • That is what makes TWD so great: The fact that it doesn't focus on the endless slaughter of zombies. Its about more than that; the ethics, morals, and situations they had to go through, showing that not only are the zombies a threat, but what's left of humanity; it brings out the savage within the average person simply to survive, or the capacity of evil one human being can hold. If George can't see that, then he obviously knows nothing when it comes to TV shows; why would I waste my time watching zombies being murdered on a TV screen when I can play Nazi Zombies and receive a greater experience? That is unappealing to me, I want to see what others would do in these situations, not how many ones one can kill a zombie.

    • Soap Opera is definitely a fitting description, I stopped watching after 3rd season. Its almost like its trying to be the exact opposite of the comics in fact

  • That's the good thing about TWD. I never was a fan of the zombie-genre. I am not now. I only got into TWD because of Telltale. I bought the game because I owned many of their games before. I was reluctant to buy this "zombie-thing" because like I said, it's not my cup of tea. Well, I got a little money lying around, so I tried it. And it was awesome. Not because of zombie-slashing, but because of human interactions in this setting.

    If TWD was just "zombie-slashing" or the zombies were the main part at all, I wouldn't be a fan. But that's just me of course.

  • He is right, the show hardly has any real zombie action anymore. It's pretty boring.The acting is definitely "soap opera" level.

    • The writing is why I left watching it a while ago. Sometimes, you have to just sit back and think, "Who the hell would say things like this in a zombie apocalypse?"

    • I dont know where people get the idea that there's no zombie action. Someone is getting attacked by zombies in every episode. Its just not an hour long zombie killing fest like, some people want.

      • I watched seasons 1,2 and 3 and the zombie action was falling each season. Don't even get me started on how terrible the finale for season 3 was...

        • Thats not true at all that the zombie action fell every season. Season three in particular ramped things back up. Zombies are all over the place. They're just not rushing our group every minute which, if you are smart, that is something you are going to try to avoid, not seek out.

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    UndeadEuan BANNED

    16.1 Million viewers speaks for itself.. none of the general public care what he has to say - if it's a soap opera with a few zombies then who cares? People love it, and so do I.

    • That's a terrible argument. I guess you are going to tell us that Justin Bieber is a musical genius next?

      • He's not but MJ is a musical genius.

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        UndeadEuan BANNED

        Prince_Charming, Justin Bieber's album sold to over a million people, in this case it's not as much. You may not like him, but that doesn't make your opinion correct.

        But the truth is nobody does care about what Romero has to say. Ask some of the general public who he his - no one will no.. or care.

        • The point is that numbers lie, and people like generic BS.

          Well that's pretty ridiculous to say. I dunno how you can be a fan of the zombie genera and disrespect Romero like that. You must be a 14 year old who has no idea of the man's accomplishments. Stick to bumping your Justin Bieber kid.

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            UndeadEuan BANNED

            The numbers never lie, Charming. People are watching the show, and are continuing to watch The Walking Dead because they like it. If somebody doesn't like a show.. 9/10 times they won't watch it.

            Yet again, you make stupid comments about me personally. I am allowed an opinion, whether you like it or not. So I don't like Romero- so what? You're no one to call me ' ignorant ' or ' ridiculous '.

            • The numbers continue to fall week by week. The show was very good at one point, but the quality has gone down each season.

              It is ridiculous to say that that know one knows who Romero I said your other comment was ignorant, I never called you ignorant. Don't put words in my mouth.

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                UndeadEuan BANNED

                Most of the general public do not know who he is.. it's not that unlikely you do know. Ask anybody who he is and I bet 90% will just go ' who? '. He is not a legend.

                • lol wow are you trolling, ill informed (apparently ignorant is a bad word around here now) or 12?- probably all but definitely one of the three, without a doubt

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            Vainamoinen Moderator

            Prince Charming wrote: You must be a 14 year old who has no idea of the man's accomplishments. Stick to bumping your Justin Bieber kid.

            Stop this crap. You're embarrassing your ability to have a sound argument, and this kind of insult will not continue here.

            @UndeadEuan wrote: You're no one to call me ' ignorant ' or ' ridiculous '.

            Indeed, no one here is.

      • Exactly. I watch the show, too, but that doesn't mean I like it, frankly I think it's poorly written compared to many other shows. I keep watching it in a way like others watch youtube fail videos or memes. What a pity, the TWD trademark really has potential for being a great show. You just need the right people to master it (e.g. survival instinct - what a catastrophe). Rougly said both the TT game and the show have drama and zombies. The difference is that the first one digs deeper, the other just scratches skin-deep when it comes to emotions, thanks to bad writing and mediocre cast. My opinion.

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          UndeadEuan BANNED

          Just to start off.. why the heck do you watch something you don't even like? Do you really have that much spare time? You've got no right to complain about how it's poorly written when you don't have to watch it.

          But mediocre cast? Like who, for example?

          • Cool off, dude, you sound like a hysterical fangirl.

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            Vainamoinen Moderator

            Wait, does that mean if you don't like the show, you can't criticise it because you shouldn't watch it anyway? Ouch.

            Of course the actors are excellent. They even got that Keira Knightley love interest from "Love Actually"! ;)


            (Seriously, this discussion would be 100% better without the needless drama)

          • I also have a hard time understanding why people watch a show they dont like and then go on to trash it. That has never made sense to me.

            • It's easy: I was into TWD before the series, I loved the comic and the game. Lot's of people said the show was great, so I believed them and bought Season 1 & 2. Some shows develop their qualities by the progress of the storyline, so I'd been hoping it gets better in the next episode. Why shouldn't I watch it when I payed for it? Hope dies last. Also: you people wondering how one does NOT like it as much as you do and complaining about it is really awkward, I mean I never said I hate the series or that it's total garbage, It's just not as good as I expected. It's OK, a mediocre TV show with a few ups and downs, the plot is not the problem IMO, it just doesn't touch me as much as the other media of this trademark, thanks to poor writing. I watch MANY shows, kinda my hobby, I got an extensive collection so you're comparing automatically - believe me, I really wanted to like it. Please let go off people who think that it's not the holy grail. You can love it, I don't have to.

              • I dont care if you like it or not. That is totally your choice. I dont like some shows that other people love and revere. I just, like I said, never understood, and this is from reading the same kind of comments on other message boards, when people continue to watch a show they dont like just to bash it. I actually read someone say that they watched a show they didnt like just so they could "heckle" it. That kind of mentality I dont understand.

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                UndeadEuan BANNED

                Why shouldn't you not watch something you bought? Well because maybe you should have watched it on TV before you bought two seasons of it!

                • Oh how dare I being born and raised in the wrong country? I am SO sorry that we didn't have it on TV earlier and I had to ship it from abroad. We have every season 1 or 2 years later and when it's finally on TV they air it in the middle of the night. We're still stuck on Season 2 here.

                  Honestly: THINK before you speak! Your behaviour is getting worse

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                    UndeadEuan BANNED

                    TheMissus, I'm in a country that doesn't even air The Walking Dead, yet I find ways to watch it.

                    Methinks you need to think before you speak.

                    Enjoy arguing! I'm done by shares worth.

                    • Are you seriously saying you "find ways to watch it"? You shouldn't show off with illegal actions, you know.

                    • Besides you are being contradictory. First you critisize me for being so stupid to buy the discs instead of just watching it on TV, as if it was natural for you to have it on TV and after my reply you claim you don't even have it on TV in your country. Interesting. Then you are pissed about how one can watch the show and don't like it. You HAVE to watch it first to know if you like it or not, I am not a fortuneteller and if you don't have it on TV you HAVE to buy it or borrow it (had nobody to borrow from) - everthing else is illegal. And to answer your question: Yes I have lots of free time besides my work, and I love watching and collecting US TV shows. So what?

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                        UndeadEuan BANNED

                        I'm not saying you shouldn't try it.. but why the hell are you buying it over and over again when you know you won't like it? You're making a big deal over nothing, really. You don't like the show. Don't buy it so you don't have to live through the ' mediocre T.V show ', and ' poor writing '. Well, unless you.. ' like ' doing something you.. ' don't like '. Make up your mind, boy.

          • The entire cast minus Scott Wilson, Danai Gurira, Chad Coleman, Jon Bernthal (but he's gone now), and maybe Melissa McBride (she's gone now too).

    • "none of the general public care what he has to say"
      you do realize that without Romero there wouldn't be TWD right?
      I'd say a fair few (including myself) care what the godfather of zombies has to say.

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        UndeadEuan BANNED

        Romero did not create zombies, he only changed them slightly. But, if nobody knows who the man is, they sure as well won't give a damn about what he says about one of the best shows on U.S TV! He comes off as a little jealous in that interview.

        1939: The White Zombie.

        • Romero created the brain-eating zombies as we know them now, and he has said about the same thing about the zombies in films like 28 Days Later and others, since he thinks zombies should be slow shambling monsters (which I happen to agree with).

        • Have you ever actually seen "White Zombie" with Bela Lugosi? There is nothing about that film that resembles modern zombie movies. Nor did "King of the Zombies" (one of my favorites) or "Revolt of the Zombies" or any of the other early zombie films. You could argue that "The Last Man on Earth" with Vincent Price was one of the first modern zombie films (which came out 8 years before "Night of the Living Dead"). The zombies in that were more like vampires though. Movies like "White Zombie" and "King of the Zombies" were based on voodoo zombies, which are very different from the modern concept of zombies. They were more like entranced slaves than zombies. They killed, but they did not eat human flesh like Romero's zombies. George Romero is well-known as the father of the modern zombie genre. It's pretty much consensus. He popularized and reinvented the sub-genre of zombie horror.

      • So what? Because he "created" zombies, his opinion (which I actually agree with here, though thinking that "soap-opera" is not a bad thing) is somehow more important? If people like something they do, whether or not the "godfather of zombies" endorses that.

        It's a matter of where your focus is. If you wanna be scared by zombies and slash them, maybe TWD is not the right thing. If you wanna explore human relationships (relationships="soap opera") in a really shitty situation (in this case the zombie-apocalypse, but actually it could be any kind of apocalypse), than TWD is for you.

        • His opinion carries more weight simply because he's been doing this for almost 50 years. That kind of experience comes with a certain amount of respect, not to mention a dedicated fan base. Like I said "Night of the Living Dead" was what started the zombie craze that is being painfully overused today. I'm personally not a fan of TWD (Tv show or Comics, I love the game though) as many have said the TV is a bit like a soap opera with better acting, but a soap opera nonetheless, and it seems to me Kirkman writes the comic explicitly for the sake of being explicit.

          Anyways, just my opinion. Not to be taken as fact.
          Rant over.

        • Well, Tolkien created the kind of fantasy we are used to - wouldn't his opinions matter regarding some of the mutations the fantasy genre has gone through? I would certainly think so, if for nothing else some goddamn respect for a creator.

          Regarding the soap-opera effect on TWD, I'd have to say it might go too far. Sure, exploration of how groups evolve and live during times of stress can be very interesting, but if focus ends up on "group evolution" or "the stress", then someone is not doing the job properly: focus on the first and you get the soap-opera, focus on the other and we get a hack n slash like say Dead Island. Balance is the key.

          • I agree with you. As a lifelong zombie fan, Romero's opinions on the subject DEFINITELY matter to me, personally. His opinions don't dictate my tastes or anything, but I definitely value what he has to say, as should anyone with a love of the genre. I still like TWD because I love all things zombie, except "Zombieland". I really didn't like that movie for some reason. Bill Murray was awesome and is the only reason I purchased the movie. :) I agree with what you said about TWD too. It's definitely soapy and I wish they had better writers. I think the show has such great potential, but really crappy writers (for seasons 2 and 3). It's getting better this season though. I just wish HBO had bought the rights to it instead of AMC. It could have been amazing if HBO did it. I heard that HBO (before AMC bought the rights) wanted to use Thomas Jane as Rick, which would have been 100x better than Andrew Lincoln. It's too bad. I'll still keep watching though.

    • Argumentum ad populum is not a sound argument. Just because many people believe something, does not make it so.

  • Let's just get this out of the way. Romero started this whole mess, and Night, Dawn, and Day were f***ing brilliant. I think once Land came out he lost his touch, but that's a different argument. His movies always have a ton of social commentary, and the first three were perfect in that way.
    Kirkman has said that he loves Romero, and if Romero hadn't done it first then TWD wouldn't be here. Simple.

    Now, for his comments. It's similar to King saying how much he hated the movie version of The Shining. Hooray. He doesn't like something someone else has created that was based on his original creation. The world still manages to turn.

    Look, zombie movies are about a certain time of the zombie apocalypse. The beginning (Night); the collapse (Dawn); the end of civilization (Day); etc. The TWD is about how people cope and deal with life after the world has essentially ended. Get that? How people deal with the end of the world. If that can somehow not be about people, I'd like for someone to tell me. Shooting zombies in the head for 60 minutes once a week would not have the same ratings and would not be the runaway hit TWD is now.

    Now, I've never been in a zom-poc, and I've never had to find a way to survive hiding out in a prison, surrounded by zombies, and struggling to find food, supplies, medicine, etc. BUT, I'd imagine I would try to find me a little sumpin'-sumpin' at least every now and then. You never know when it might be your last.

    Hell, yes, it's a soap opera. Real life is a frickin' soap opera.

  • The comic is just as much a soap opera. Did he not notice that when he read it?

  • Greek and Shakespearian tragedies could easily be compared to soap operas as well.

  • Romero's Night of the Living Dead only exist because of I am Legend. I liked his original films are great, but Day of the Dead doesn't have any likeable characters. He has wrotea lot of garbage and seems to be stuck with outdated views he formed in the 60's when he tries to create any social commentary.

  • I prefer the term "Drama".

    • lol, no...Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Homeland are dramas. The Walking Dead is a poorly written and acted soap opera. There is a huge difference.

      • That makes no sense. Because you dont like it, its not a drama? Seriously, you're using Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad as examples of two shows that arent soap operas? Slower paced, character driven shows full of relationship drama. There is no difference between those shows and this one except for the subject matter. BTW, what is your definition of a soap opera? People throw that phrase around and Im half convinced that no one really knows what they mean by it.

        • Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones don't move at the glacial pace that TWD does. If they did, at least you would get a pay-off as opposed to TWD. They will spend an entire season building up to something that never happens.

          • Now I see where this is coming from. You're upset because you didnt get what you wanted at the end of the last season, which I wont spoil. Things didnt happen the way I expected either but that doesnt invalidate the entire show for me and wont. I still think its a good show. You disagree and thats fine but Ive been on enough message boards to know that both Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones have been criticized for their slow pace. That's something that never bothered me as I love both shows and enjoy a lot of character development. Im glad things they went a different way with the end of last season because this season has been taking some interesting twists that I dont think would have come about otherwise.

            • lmao, no I wouldn't use the word "upset", but disgusted would work. Spending an entire season building up to a battle/climax that never happens is bad writing, plain and simple. They painted themselves into a corner and copped out.

              I have never heard anyone criticize Breaking Bad or GoT for their pacing. Dunno what boards you are hanging around on.

              Look at the end of the day there is a reason that GoT and Breaking Bad rake in the awards that matter. Meanwhile TWD only gets praise for its prosthetic makeup.

              • IMDB and Facebook to name two. When I like a show, I like to read as much as I can about it. I also listen to a lot of podcasts so I hear a lot of opinions. Ive seen every episode of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones and have defended both shows to other fans. Yeah, they are not always treated like the bastions of tv as no show Ive ever seen is. But, if you think The Walking Dead is an inferior show, that is fine. It doesnt change anything for me, not my opinion of it or my love of the show so we can agree to disagree.

                • When did I say I was trying to change your opinion? You are the one who replied to me. If anything you were trying to change my opinion.

                  Let me know when TWD gets praise for its acting or writing. Until then, we can agree to disagree as you said.

      • Soap Opera Definition: "A television or radio serial daytime television drama dealing with the daily lives of the same group of people.
        Examples: Coronation Street, Days of our Lives, East Enders.

        Your're wrong, TWD is not a soap opera. It's an awesome show! btw I'm not saying that soap operas are bad just that TWD doesn't fall into that category

      • Actually soap operas are dramas as well, just a different type of drama. Li-Lee kind of hits the nail on the the head but I would consider the term "opera" to be inaccurate. Usually operas consist of singing and musical numbers so when you take away the whole "soap opera" thing what are you left with? Drama.


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