January 24, 2017
'The Walking Dead': Why Zombies Are The Problem And Norman Reedus As Daryl Dixon Is The Solution [Opinion]

While The Walking Dead with Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan did not invent zombies, TWD certainly proved the zombie's importance in society. When a small but growing cable channel called AMC aired the zombie apocalypse series, their fortune was changed by the American zombie.

AMC's The Walking Dead is one of the most-watched shows on any channel, according to TV by the Numbers.

"'The Walking Dead's' Season 6 ratings among adults 18-49 were 48 percent higher than the top show on broadcast TV, 'Empire.' The next-best show on cable, 'Game of Thrones.' 'The Walking Dead' beat it by margins of 67 percent in the demo and 71 percent in viewers."
The Walking Dead, starring Andrew Lincoln and increasingly featuring Norman Reedus, was chosen by the people as the show everyone wants to watch. The Walking Dead with its zombie-apocalypse theme has tremendous audience appeal with hard-to-reach demographics like young adults and men.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon was a character Walking Dead fans had their eye on almost from the beginning. Casting chose Andrew Lincoln to play Rick Grimes. Andrew Lincoln is the star of The Walking Dead on AMC, just as Rick Grimes was the main character of the Walking Dead comic book series.

Still, many Walking Dead fans had eyes for Norman Reedus from the time his character first appeared. Who is that tough outdoorsy biker? What is Daryl Dixon doing differently in the midst of a zombie apocalypse?

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon went from a small supporting role on into stardom that at times overshadows Andrew LincolnRick, though the character of Rick certainly has his fans. What does this mean?

Perhaps zombies are a real problem and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon is the solution a lot of people are preferring right now. It may sound ridiculous, but a lot of extremely well-educated people believe that zombies just like the ones on The Walking Dead represent something very real.

Before The Walking Dead was on AMC, and before Norman Reedus portrayed Daryl Dixon and Andrew Lincoln became Rick Grimes, Matt Mogk founded the Zombie Research Association, whose members include academic types from Harvard and highly respected neuroscientists, according to Newsweek.

"[The Zombie Research Association is] dedicated to raising the level of zombie scholarship in the Arts and Sciences. The zombie pandemic is coming. It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Enthusiastic debate about zombies is essential to the survival of the human race."

Walking Dead writer Robert Kirkman, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, and other Walking Dead associates make no such assertions, but it is important to point out that amazingly, world-renowned scientists are seriously studying the zombie phenomenon. Strangely, there are zombie scientists developing a "zombie scholarship" -- not that they actually have any real zombies to test.

Walking Dead writer Robert Kirkman, as well as Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, remain silent on the topic of "zombie scholarship," but Kirkman has a few peers who have stepped into the debate over the symbolic meaning of zombies in modern culture. Johnathan Maberry, who wrote the zombie fiction Patient Zero, Rot and Ruin, and Zombies CSU, is quoted in Newsweek as stating the following.

"A zombie is a stand-in for anything we fear: pandemic, racism, societal change, depersonalization of humanity, pervasive threat and how this threat affects people. It's the core of drama and a never-ending blank canvas."

Norman Reedus and Jeffery Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead
Norman Reedus and Jeffery Dean Morgan of 'The Walking Dead.' [Image by John Sciulli/Getty Images]

If The Walking Dead's zombies are anything that threatens the human race or individuals, and that seeps into the subconscious whether people realize it our not, then why did many people subconsciously choose Norman Reedus' portrayal of Daryl Dixon as the ultimate solution?

The Walking Dead's zombies mean something to people, and IFC ventures an opinion that the Walking Dead zombies represent unemployment, indebtedness, and societal decay. After all, zombies obviously point to a sudden dissolution of society.

What do Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln as Daryl Dixon and Rick Grimes, respectively, have to do with such a situation? If zombies represent whatever problems face mankind at any given moment, then the heroes who fight them logically could represent solutions.

Andrew Lincoln' Rick Grimes is the apparent leader of The Walking Dead's other characters. As sheriff, Rick was a man of the law. Rick Grimes would be a good candidate for rebuilding society as much as possible.

Daryl Dixon, as created by Norman Reedus, as well as the Walking Dead writers, was an outsider to society. Daryl was living off the grid even before the zombie apocalypse. Daryl is a born and raised survivalist, woodsman, huntsman, and biker.

The survivalist culture is a growing phenomenon in our society. Many people relate to the ideology of preparedness, but that alone hardly explains Norman Reedus' phenomenal success on The Walking Dead.

Of course, there is the possibility that Norman Reedus is just a great actor who is very handsome and also relatable to most people. Those things are all quite true, but is there something else drawing people to Daryl Dixon as a solution to the world's problems?

Norman Reedus The Walking Dead's Daryl Dixon
Norman Reedus 'The Walking Dead's' Daryl Dixon [Image by Mike Windle/Getty Images]

Could Norman Reedus represent strength? Well, that much is obvious. Norman Reedus has a powerful build, and his character has great reflexes. Daryl Dixon seems very strong and capable.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead always knows what to do and how to do it. Daryl Dixon has survival know-how, and that could represent having a good skill set and being adaptable.

While The Walking Dead's zombie apocalypse may or may not be likely to happen in real life, people in the 21st century do have a lot of fears. People also have real problems, like paying their bills, paying their debts, and finding a job. The apt solution to those fears may not be a conventional one, thus the rise of Daryl Dixon as a potential solution.

Dixon is more adaptable has a strong skill set and represents independence, self-sufficiency, freedom, and strength. As society grapples with the problems of this age, they look for inspiration where they can. Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon is an excellent role model in that way, even if there are no literal zombies.

Building a varied skill set, becoming more self-reliant, and getting stronger are all part of a recipe for successful survival with or without zombies. Survival is a key theme in The Walking Dead, and Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon is a master. Adaptability has always been considered the key to survival and ultimately success.

Good Reads has a quote from Leon C. Megginson.

"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change."

As society is changing at an incomprehensible rate in terms of technology, economy, government, and societal norms, many people are looking for a better way of using their own skills and resources. Many, even in western society, have been facing what feels like raw survival in the face of change that is almost as diverse from their former sense of security as a zombie apocalypse.


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Watching The Walking Dead has been described as a needed escape from reality, but perhaps as the mind and body relax, the subconscious is taking in the message provided by Robert Kirkman. Could fans be weighing the solutions posed by Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon and Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes and adapting them for potential solutions to their own problems?

Is The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon symbolic of the skills needed to survive in any given situation, even things not related to the zombie apocalypse?

[Featured Image by Denis Poroy/Invision/AP Images and Jessie Grant/Getty Images]