Fear The Walking Dead

September 21, 2015

“Hate Watching”: The Dark Side Of Binge Watching

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Recovering Hate Watcher…

I recently fell in love with a new term. And, thankfully, it’s not “sharing economy.”

“Hate watching” has been around for a few years (yeah, I’m slow on the uptake). In case you’re not familiar with the term, that infinite fount of wisdom knowledge hearsay, Wikipedia, defines it as “watching a television show while simultaneously hating its content or subject.”

I may have to update that definition, because it should include movie sequels and, more significantly, two key qualifications:

  1. Hate watching involves a thin yet stubborn steel string of hope that your show/movie will get better.
  2. For movie sequels and shows in their later seasons, hate watching also involves nostalgia for the glory days.

Anyone who insisted on watching the last 3 Star Wars installments (“The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones,” and “Revenge of the Sith”) will know the soul-killing feeling.

Hate watching certainly describes my experience watching some of the last few seasons of “Dexter.”

And more recently, it describes my experience with “Fear The Walking Dead” (FTWD), the spinoff of the monster series “The Walking Dead.” In fact, I first heard the term when someone on Facebook posted that she was also hate watching FTWD. And I felt that joy of knowing I wasn’t the only one with the same feeling (a phenomenon that’s the secret to social media’s success).

Now, I’ve also long held a love-hate relationship with the original Walking Dead series, but I became addicted once I grew attached to the characters — which came early.

Not so much with FTWD. The spinoff is set in Los Angeles, where I’ve lived for over two decades surrounded by dazzling personalities, eccentrics, geniuses, and assorted egos so warped and inflated they’re rented out for balloon rides.

Yet FTWD decided to focus on some of the least interesting people in the city. A dysfunctional family? Gee, how original for television. Indeed, these characters — and the entire story — could have been set in Oklahoma City or Poughkeepsie for all it mattered. The only nod to L.A. is traffic jams (yeah, that makes great TV) and some of the characters speak Spanish. I commend the writers for the ethnic diversity, but language alone doesn’t make people compelling.

Sadly, this show suffers from a lobotomizing lack of imagination. The uninspired title should have clued me in: “Fear The Walking Dead”? Really? What else am I supposed to do? Date them? Hey, there’s an idea for a show…

Fear The Walking Dead action scene

A riveting FTWD scene that involves trying to get someone in L.A. on the phone.

In terms of action, where are the zombies attacking a Hollywood studio? (“Hey, get those guys off the set! What movie do they think they’re in?!”) How about zombies in the surf? Or zombie supermodels feasting on gangbangers? Or zombies at a basketball game? (Oh, wait, those are the current Lakers…) No, FTWD gives us a family playing Monopoly in a living room. What’s more, the characters alternate between dull and whiny, so I find myself rooting for the zombies.

But I’ve still been hate watching FTWD, hoping for a creative spark or at least some semblance to the original Walking Dead series. It’s very much like sitting in traffic in L.A., praying it will clear while reminiscing about the times you could drive over 25.

For the Hollywood execs who impose such entertainment atrocities on their most devoted fans, hate watching still means eyeballs, and that translates into shiny dinero in their pockets.

Guess who’s eating our brains?

So I call upon all of you: RESIST! Break the chains of these abusive relationships. Forget what the good ol’ days of a series were like, and give the latest manifestation a good hard sniff test. If something smells rancid and decaying, go ahead and decide the limited hours of your life are just not worth investing in it. Because watching something you hate will ultimately destroy your cerebral cortex.

And that, of course, is how the zombie apocalypse actually begins.

Fear The Walking Dead ad

Don’t look back — just run.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

4 Responses

  1. Guilty as charged and please don’t judge me for what I’m about to admit. :)

    I couldn’t believe that I did it myself, but I watched “Pretty Little Liars” because I had to know who the villain was going to turn out to be. I was thrilled when the season finale revealed who “A” was. I’ve not set my DVR to record the next season and have no desire to see any more.

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