Fear the Walking Dead, a spinoff of the wildly-popular zombie drama, The Walking Dead, has only been on the air for a few weeks, but it’s already facing criticism for killing off Black characters.
Black fans have howled in anger as The Walking Dead regularly killed off Black characters such as T-Dog, Tyreese and Noah. And now Fear the Walking Dead, which follows the zombie apocalypse as it spreads in Los Angeles, has killed off three Black characters in two episodes.
Fans took to Twitter to express their outrage. BeninCitizen wrote, “Fear The Walking Dead, or ‘I hear America likes to see black men die a lot so here’s a show.’” Twitter user Kiala said “Fear the Walking Dead but only if you’re a black character.”
However, showrunner Dave Erickson defended Fear the Walking Dead in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He said the Black characters’ deaths played out according to the story.
“Once the story is playing out in a specific way, that’s the line that you want to follow. It wasn’t as though we were writing those characters and then casting those characters with an intention of, ‘This is going to be the death scene for this episode,’” said Erickson. “For that episode, it was about how it would reflect on the characters themselves and how things would play out over the course of the season. 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. I wouldn’t want to go back and recast a character just to avoid … if it doesn’t feel true to the character or the relationship — the relationship with Alicia and Matt or Calvin and Nick — it’s really about the reality of the world that we’re trying to inhabit and trying to have the best actors portray those parts.”
The Walking Dead, which airs on AMC, is based on a long-running comic book series following a group of humans trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies. The new show, Fear the Walking Dead, moves the action to Los Angeles and follows survivors in the early days of the zombie outbreak. The Walking Dead actually has a fairly diverse cast. And while it has killed off several Black characters, there are still many prominent Black characters on the show, such as the katana-wielding Michonne, Father Gabriel, Sasha and Morgan. Producer Gale Ann Hurd also said in some cases, characters in the comic book who were white are now played by Black actors.
“We’ve killed a lot more white characters than African-American characters. And not only that, I think it’s important to point out that we did cast two African-American actors in roles that were not African-American. In the comic books, Bob was white. And the character of Noah was not an African-American. We just cast the best actor,” Hurd told E! Online.
Since the show is set in a violent world, many of the characters, both white and Black, end up being killed off. Rick Grimes, the hero of the show, has lost his best friend and wife, and the popular character, Hershel, was also killed off. According to an article by Uproxx, who analyzed the death rates on the show, Black and white deaths have been pretty even.
Reddit user, empress-of-blandings, also ran the numbers and found 17 of the show’s 28 white characters had been killed or about 60 percent. Six of The Walking Dead’s 10 black characters have been killed, which is also 60 percent.