Monday, October 5, 2015

Characters that could have been in Fear the Walking Dead

Caveat 1: I've only been to LA once, when I was very young and didn't really know any of it, but just from watching about it on TV and reading about it in the news, there's all sorts of characters that could have been on this show and weren't.

Caveat 2: Why put a show somewhere and then not use all the options for character and setting that there could be in a huge and diverse city like LA?

I just feel like a teacher and a high school administrator could have come from anywhere and that the options for characters on this show were barely scratched and could have been far more interesting in the set up. We could have had:

  • Someone from a poor part of town who wants to make good, who is working his way out of a bad situation--and who has to make the choice when things fall apart about whether he'll fall back on the gang behavior of his old neighborhood, or keep trying to be a more fair person.
  • A tour guide who has to keep all those people from far away safe while everything goes to hell around them.
  • Actors. Like, any actors.* Someone, maybe, who wanted to be an actor and who was being a waitress, but who had done a lot of research, and come from somewhere else, and knew all sorts of useful things.
  • Conspiracy theorists! Tobias was almost one of these, but was barely there.
  • Suvivalists who can help or block help.
  • Other drug addicts who didn't get rescued by their families, who have to keep surviving on the streets the way they always had, and so will know where the safe places are, the supplies, the danger spots.
  • Cops. Any cops at all. Good or bad, they'd be different from Rick or Shane, and their absence is weird.
  • People from poor neighborhoods showing up at the gates of the middle-class Safe Zone, trying to get help or information, or just to raid for supplies.
  • Rich people with very well-defended homes having to make the decision about whether they'll take in refugees from the city, or if they'll bar their gates--and what happens either way.
  • News people still trying to get information out to the masses, who have to jury-rig their broadcasts to make sure they can even be heard when the grid goes down.
  • A librarian or museum curator who wants to document this historic event, whether because they're dedicated, or because they're delusional, either would be interesting.
  • People on vacation who just want to get home.
  • People on business trips who maybe know more about what's going on than they let on.
  • Con men! Running cons!
  • People barricading themselves in malls or in Costco, and just exactly how that can go wrong.
  • Mobsters who have such good control of their territories, that they're practically princes now, since they have peace-keeping methods already in place.
  • Surfers and hippies who try to build a floating society out off the coast.
  • Motorcycle gangs who can move around quickly, even when there's deadlocked traffic and roads clogged with abandoned cars, and set themselves up as a sort of lifeline for isolated pockets of people on rooftops and in highrises--for good or for bad.
  • Fireflighters who keep putting out fires, because if they don't, who will?
  • Medical people--doctors and nurses who aren't cold and weird, specialists who are outside their specialty, MEs who have to work on the living because they're the only medical people around, Vets who have to work on people for the same reason, people who lost their licence but who are all that's left.
  • Other people from that school who went back there because it's got supplies and is more defensible than their homes, trying to form a democracy of teachers, administrators, families, janitors, and refugees.
  • Church people who aren't insane and useless, who have been helping the poor for years, and just start helping more people now.
  • Opportunistic criminals.
  • Homeless people who can move up into all the abandoned houses, but who are now in neighborhoods that were abandoned for a reason.
  • People who were working somewhere on the other side of town from where they live, who just want to get their families back, and spend the whole season going through all these other different parts of town to get back home.
  • People who were stuck on a bus in traffic and have to band together even though they're all strangers.
  • Public servants who keep working for the public, opening up their homes or offices to people who are trapped or lost or evacuated.
  • Hookers or strippers who just want to help.
  • Groups of disadvantaged youths who don't trust anyone in control and decide to set up safety for themselves.
  • Students from a university who have to study the collapse to keep from going insane, and their professor who holds them together.
  • Girlscouts and boyscouts trying to help where there's not cops or soldiers, in a situation that's way above their age-group.
  • Criminals from the jail running lose and taking different tactics about what they'll do with this crazy new type of freedom, or trapped in the jail and trying to get out.
Basically, really, we could have had anything that brought people from different areas, social situations, races, or classes together and made them work together or bounce off each other, anything that gave people new opportunities that they had to decide whether they'd take or not and whether they think it's a good idea to, anything that made a good story out of diversity and variety. It could have been complex and complicated before everything went toward the apocalypse, but so far, all of this is hardly touched on, barely even looked at.

We've got a guaranteed next season, and there's plenty of time to shake up the cast and bring in more people from all over the city and all levels of society, but it just would have been nice if this particular one had had more scope and was more open. One family and three people, all from the same other family, they found along the way is not a very good use of the potential such a huge city has to offer. Being inundated by survivors from all over LA and the surrounding areas who were all caught in the wrong place when things went south would fix that nicely.

This is only the beginning of the end. It's been two weeks of disaster, not months and years. People will be trying to regain what they lost, trying to re-contact the outside world, trying to help their neighbors and their families. Where's all the solidarity that can happen in disaster situations? Where's the attempts to band together and make it through, even if those attempts crumble later? Where are the people trying to make sense of what's happening?

*They said on the Talking Dead special that they almost did that, but decided not to--it would be too easy, or something lame like that?
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