10 Things “The Walking Dead” Reveals About Generation X

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Dannielle Blumenthal

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As usual it took me a few episodes to figure out why this show is so popular (I rarely understand the first time) but now I think I get it.

The basic premise of “The Walking Dead” (TWD) is that regular humans are trying to survive against the zombies, who are all infected with a mysterious illness. If they bite you, you become one of them. You don’t think, you don’t talk, you don’t care anymore, all you want to do is bite other people to stay alive.

Having grown up on Gen X popular culture (John Hughes movies, the Brat Pack, Darren Star’s “90210” and “Melrose Place,” “Friends”) there are 10 typical threads that runs through all the storylines.

  1. They’ve been burned, so now they don’t trust anyone except a tested circle of peers.
  2. They are not aggressive, but will defend themselves and their families in the blink of an eye.
  3. They trust directness over diplomacy, which they see as phony, and they don’t trust authority.
  4. They inhabit a world that is falling apart – unlike the safe, happy, protected world of their dreams.
  5. They have to carry what seem like enormous burdens, all the time.
  6. They feel like nobody could possibly understand what they are going through.
  7. They work independently to do heroic things.
  8. They are inventive and resourceful, making unlivable situations livable.
  9. They are nonjudgmental, tolerant, and diverse in thinking and friendships.
  10. They put all their energy and effort into the children, the future.
These threads are visible in TWD and tell us a lot about how Generation Xers think. Interesting how a zombie show can tell you so much about ordinary life.

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Dawn Lautwein

Very insightful! I’m hooked on the show, despite being much older than Gen X, but there are some plot lines where I’ve questioned why they would make the decisions that they did, which might be a generational thing. I think The Walking Dead does a great job of integrating characters from different backgrounds and generations, though, each with strengths and weaknesses. It has plenty of action, but still takes time for character development.

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