There are a lot of strong opinions about The Walking Dead‘s companion series Fear the Walking Dead. At the forefront of these critiques are the glaring similarities between the two shows.
Creating a companion series is a tricky thing. As showrunners, you want to keep the essence of what drew audiences to the original, while establishing a new identity. When Fear the Walking Dead was announced, it was billed as a show that would give viewers insight into the start of the zombie apocalypse. Except fans got less of that, and more comparable storylines to its original. Basically… Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead are the same show. Which is its biggest problem.
What pre-apocalypse story?
Seeing the fall of society in a zombie apocalypse was an exciting draw to the new series. However, after just one season, FtWD seemed to project itself into a full blown post-apocalyptic world. The 6-episode first season definitely gave us a couple episodes that slowly developed the start of the outbreak. But it quickly shifted into a small quarantine situation for Madison and her family. Beyond the gates of their small community, was a wasteland of walkers. By seasons end, the group had left their home to seek safety elsewhere. At this point, civilization had fallen.
It would have been incredibly entertaining to have seen how the government reacted. What did others in the community do to protect themselves at first. When did society begin to crumble, where stores closed and streets were empty. How long it took and how the world (or at least America) reacted would have been compelling storytelling for multiple seasons.
They’re all the worst house guests
In season two of The Walking Dead, Rick and company found refuge at Hershel’s farm. It was seemingly a safe place until Glenn discovered walkers being housed in the family’s barn. In the season finale, the barn was up in flames, the walkers were freed, and everyone moved onto the next place.
Fear the Walking Dead didn’t venture far from this. Likewise, in season two, Madison and her family followed their new friend Strand to the Mexican compound of his lover. During their time, it was discovered that the dead were being locked away somewhere on the property. Similar to TWD, the walkers were set on fire and our group fled. This was just one of many painfully parallel storylines that lacked creativity.
They keep splitting up
It seems like both shows have a knack for wanting to drive fans wild by constantly splitting up the members of both groups. Someone’s either kidnapped, finding their own way, or just too angry at someone to continue alongside. Regardless of how far apart they seem to venture, they’ll eventually find their way back. During last season, Madison was separated from both her son and her boyfriend Travis. By seasons end, they’ve reunited, but split from Strand. Is it too much to just have groups stay together in the zombie apocalypse?
The kids aren’t alright
There is always at least one character in a series that is just so terribly annoying you can’t imagine why they’re there. Throughout both shows, it seems the kids are the ones who tend to be just that. Carl never listens in TWD and has resulted in the deaths of beloved characters. He just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. We also had look-at-the-flowers Lizzy, who ended up killing her own kid sister.
In FtWD, the most annoying character was Travis’ son Chris, who was swiftly killed off in pathetic fashion during season three. Both shows also like to tackle homicidal kids and some of their unhealthy obsessions with the living dead.
Dead characters are teased to still be alive
Don’t you love when you think a beloved character is dead, but they aren’t? It’s exciting in some instances, but totally teasing it and doing everything in your power to fake out a death only alienates fans from a series.
We saw this in TWD when fan favorite Glenn falls into a pit of walkers, seemingly being ripped apart. On the after-show Talking Dead, showrunner Scott M. Gimple released a cryptic statement saying:
“In some way, we will see Glenn, some version of Glenn or parts of Glenn again, either in flashback or in the current story to help complete the story”.
In the next episode, actor Steven Yeun was missing from the opening credits and his fate wasn’t addressed until the episode after that.
A similar thing happened in FtWD when Daniel Salazar sets fire to the contained walkers. We don’t necessarily see him die, and once again we’re given a cryptic statement about him possibly being alive. So will we see Salazar again?
Perhaps they were aiming for artistic parallels between both series. There is no doubt they utilize some iconic shots from The Walking Dead, however the complete copy/paste of storylines is tiresome. Fans want something new. It’s possible to keep the shows cohesive, without relying on strikingly similar plots and gimmicks. Since the companion series has been confirmed to never meet up with its predecessor, it leaves fans wondering what point is there to it all. It seems to only be holding onto the threads of association at this point. With season three premiering next month, and a fourth season already confirmed, we can only hope they’ll begin to find their own flow and stop relying on repetitive stories.
What do you think is Fear the Walking Dead‘s problem?
I really like your review of FTWD and I agree with what you’ve said. For me, there is the added factor that I haven’t really found a single character that I’m rooting for. Unlike TWD, I don’t care what happens to any of these characters. Will they survive? Don’t really care. Will they get killed by walkers or other groups? Don’t really care. I find Madison to be especially annoying. If I had to choose, I’d say Salazar is probably my favorite character of this show.
TWD keeps me on the edge of my seat. I care deeply about these people and what happens to them. The characters are well developed and interesting. Perhaps if FTWD created storylines that are different from TWD, as you mentioned, the characters would seem more real. Anyway, really liked your review and I’m still watching FTWD in hopes that it gets better.
Couldn’t agree more! I hysterically cried when Glenn died. I can’t say I’d feel that way about a single FFTW character.
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Yes, I had the same reaction with Glenn. I was also sorry to see Abraham go; I liked him, too. He was funny with his little off beat phrases. lol