The Walking Dead tackles the concept of post-apocalyptic living in a zombie-filled environment rather well, but as its Season 6 premiere on Sunday approaches, let’s talk about an annoyance I have with the series. An annoyance that is like a rusty cheese grater whittling at my ears. This overly masculine cheese grater is named Carl, or “Cooooarl,” if you are going by Rick’s pronunciation.
It’s time for Carl to die.
So for all two of you who don’t know, Carl is the son of Rick Grimes, the show’s main character. Throughout The Walking Dead, Rick, a single father and scavenger, tries to raise Carl. Now, this would just be yet another of the show’s subplots about how humanity functions in the post-apocalypse, but it’s damaged by just how overbearing and annoying Carl is.
The character of Carl is bland and devoid of any likeability or character development, with the exception of his tendency to constantly remind the audience that he wants to be a man. This would be fine if it wasn’t his only character trait! All of his dialogue is either whining about wanting to be a man or being sad about not being a man. It’s infuriating.
Carl is also at the center of some particularly limp subplots, which only amplifies the hate you’ll bear toward the character. In fact, Carl has a tendency to ruin whatever plot or scene he’s in. Even when the character development is gold, Carl just inhumanly blunders though the situation while being sad about not being man enough to solve the aforementioned problem (because being a man solves all aliments, death and any little problem you have, according to Carl).
For example (spoiler), in Season 3, Carl must shoot Lori, his mother, because she died giving birth and will turn into a zombie if left unleaded. Now, this is the perfect set-up for character development. Carl has to shoot his mother. His mother. Will he be able to handle that? Will it change him for the worse? Will it finally and brutally clarify the true weight of what it is to be “a man” and what “a man” has to do? Unfortunately, no. Carl just shrugs off the killing of his mother and goes back to being that over-eager man-child we know and loathe.
That alone is enough reason to say Carl’s expiration date passed long ago.
Carl as a character is lazy, repetitive and just plain aggravating. Far better characters have been killed off for far more minor character transgressions. But there’s hope, especially after the show’s other nonsensical youngster got axed for being a maniac.
I have hope that The Walking Dead will come to its senses this season and dispatch Carl in a particularly bad CG gore fest. Even better, he’ll die from a rocket-propelled copy of Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men, with Rick slanting forward and shouting “Cooooooooaarrll!” through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
(Images are official publicity material from American Movie Classics.)
TV Talk is a regular television column written by Robert Pulford, Current Staff.