‘Fear The Walking Dead’: The African-American Male Problem

Fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead will be noticing a similar theme running through its companion series, Fear The Walking Dead that they hoped wouldn’t replicate across the shows: the short-lived African-American man.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers about AMC’s The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead. If you are not up to date with all episodes across both programs, please proceed with caution.

The Walking Dead has very diverse in regards to who has been represented as survivors of the zombie apocalypse. This, for once, is not the white man’s world alone. Over the course of five seasons, Rick Grimes’ group has included men, women, children, rednecks, Mexicans, Asians, and African-Americans. However, if you are an African-American that also is a male, then your chances of surviving The Walking Dead universe are slim to none. The Nerds of Color did a very interesting piece on the African-American male’s survival rate in The Walking Dead back in 2013 and since then, the memes in regards to the obvious dispatching of black males every time a new African-American is introduced on the show has grown exponentially.

But surely, AMC will correct this unbalance in the Walking Dead’s companion series, Fear The Walking Dead?

The African American Male Problem in Fear The Walking Dead

Guess again. So far, over only two episodes, we have seen the introduction of three African-American males. Those three men have since all become zombies. According to Walking Dead executive producer, Gale Anne Hurd, there is definitely no conspiracy in regards to killing of African-Americans. When she spoke to Variety, she claimed two of the recent roles cast in The Walking Dead who suffered the African-American male fate were actually white characters in the comic books (that TV series is based on) and they tend to follow the storylines from the comics rather than specifically pick out people according to race who are next for the chopping block.

“We have to go with the story. It’s really important to cast the best actors. Two of those characters were white in the comics. They could’ve been any ethnicity. Our casting calls are completely open and we always go with the best actor. Would African-American actors want to be told, ‘We’re not casting you, because in the storyline we’re going to kill you off?’ That’s how we have to look at it. We want the best actor and then we have to stick to the storyline that was crafted months before we even cast the roles.”

While this may be true in regards to those specific characters, Walking Dead fans will know that following the comic book storyline closely is not always what AMC do, so that opinion doesn’t hold as much sway as intended. And now Fear The Walking Dead showrunner, Dave Erickson is following the same cue as Gale Anne Hurd after fans started questioning why the pattern laid down in The Walking Dead was being replicated in Fear The Walking Dead. In a recent article from Vanity Fair Erickson was quoted.

“Ultimately, it came down to when we were casting those parts, we didn’t know who was going to live, who would die or how those stories would arc out or not arc out. For us, it was about casting that felt reflective of the community and getting the best actor and that was the final determining factor… I realize it’s clearly become an issue and it’s something we are mindful of. But ultimately it’s trying to tell the story the best way we can and cast the best people we can.”

Although, to be fair, in a show like The Walking Dead, lots of people die. As Gale Anne Hurd also pointed out in another interview she did with E!Online, that the show has “killed a lot more white characters than African-American characters,” and this is certainly true. However, coming into their new show, Fear The Walking Dead, perhaps they shouldn’t have been so in the audiences face about killing off African American males just yet?

Fear The Walking Dead returns to AMC on September 13 and The Walking Dead returns on October 11, 2015.

Let us know your thoughts about the African-American male theory by commenting below!

[Image credits: AMC]