There’s something addicting about AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Since season one, I have watched the emotional roller coaster of relatable characters dying off, the primal struggle to survive and the psychologically taxing plight that comes with living in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world full of zombies.
In the third episode of its fifth season, “The Walking Dead” introduced two new characters: Kirkman and Aaron, two recruiters of a safe camp who happen to be a gay couple. Near the end of the episode, their relationship was affirmed with a kiss and dialogue of their devotion to one another. Many people weren’t happy about this, and they took to the Internet to express their outrage.
The media, specifically sitcoms and ongoing television series, are one-by-one introducing gay couples, same-sex families and transgender lead roles to their scripts. This creates factions of people who are indifferent to the characters, supportive of their relevance or outraged by them.
Regardless of how people feel about homosexuality, we can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist. If anything, introducing LGBT characters makes these shows more relatable to the society we live in.
These characters aren’t awkwardly placed in the show as “token” or only have a couple of lines. They have purpose to the plot, they provide depth and they have large fanbases. Laverne Cox is like the transgender equivalent of Beyonce.
Critics would argue this is pushing some sort of extremist liberal agenda, but is promoting diversity that political?
The outrage related to a gay couple in “The Walking Dead” surprised me more than other examples because there are countless scenes in the show that are more outrageous. If you watch the show, you see a young girl kill her sister, people being impaled and having their guts ripped out, cannibalism and other gruesome scenes that should be considered more “disgusting.” Anyone who acclaims these brutal scenes, but is appalled by a gay couple, has some explaining to do.
It’s true. The surge of LGBT characters on primetime television is at an all-time high. According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, characters who identify as LGBT rose from 2.9 percent in 2011 to 4.4 percent in 2013, but is this a problem?
We threw out shows like “Leave it to Beaver,” “I Love Lucy” and other clean-cut shows because they were out of touch with reality. They struggled to show real family dynamics and instead gave a false sense of what the American family looks like.
We like shows and characters we can relate to. We’re attracted to raw tension and a deviation from the white picket fence. That’s how television works.
This is the world we live in. Same-sex families, couples and people live here and contribute to our society. Instead of trying to hide or banish LGBT culture from media, people should be allowed to have these characters to root for and watch. Whether they’re fighting off zombies or struggling with the hardships of love and raising families (like straight people often do), LGBT actors and actresses have a place in our media. It’s time to accept that.
Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor