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Why we're losing interest in Fear the Walking Dead

While The Walking Dead has frustrated its viewers to no end with fake-out character kills, maddening cliffhangers, and tons of pacing problems, its seventh season is as hotly anticipated as anything else on TV right now. On the other hand, its prequel spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, has been nothing short of a letdown on all fronts. Ratings have taken a major dip as it's rapidly become relegated to the "DVR-at-best" list for even the most ardent TWD fans. Here's why it's struggling to capitalize on the zombie craze the way its parent program has, and is this close to becoming completely skippable.

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It's slow

The most obvious problem with trying to deliver a series about the events leading up to the zombie apocalypse, to an audience that's already spent years watching the craziness of said apocalypse, is that connecting the dots can be pretty tedious … and boring.

Fear has been desperately trying to create a meaty story about these would-be survivors — some of whom might even eventually exist in The Walking Dead. But they're taking a super, duper long time getting to a point of action or intrigue that's even remotely comparable to TWD. They're stalling the inevitable reality that, one day, this show will probably end up being pretty similar to TWD, just on another side of the country. If only that time could come sooner than later, because the build-up is just not working right now. Yawn.

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It has missed so many opportunities

Sure, it was a clever play to take the FTWD survivors out to sea in Season 2 and explore the pirate problem that would inevitably result from scarce rations and naivete at sea, and the web series Flight 462 touched on a smidge of the aviation fallout that would happen from such an outbreak. However, the show has so far failed to truly realize any details left unanswered by the first show — like where and why the disease originated, how it was able to spread so quickly, and the government's place in all of this (apart from a random camp full of rogue soldiers in Season 1).

If you're going to do a prequel series and go slowly, start from the tippy top. It would've been so much more satisfying to witness the origination and pandemic of the Walker disease from a worldview, rather than the point, place, and perspective that the show started in. Showing us Patient Zero, or a lens on the political corruption, greed, and incompetence that would allow such contagion to occur, might have given this show its own set of wings. Instead, though, it just picked up with a few errant Walkers suddenly causing a mess in Los Angeles with little-to-no explanation, much like how Rick was introduced to the devastated state of Georgia back in TWD's pilot. Bummer.

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It's repetitive

This concept of putting all the focus on a single group is really, really tired by now. Even TWD has begun to suffer some cabin fever over its allegiance to Rick Grimes and his band of brothers and sisters (and children), because a lot of them have become virtually unkillable. That's why Negan and the Saviors are coming into Season 7 to raise the stakes, while Ezekiel and his Kingdom will help expand the known landscape of survivor groups, and introduce some much-needed fresh blood

Fear the Walking Dead, however, isn't far enough in the timeline for these kind of factions to develop, so we're far away from meeting any deliciously tyrannical hospital overlords, or one-eyed governors who promise peace where there is none, or baseball bat-wielding baddies who want everyone else in the world to just kneel the heck down. The closest Fear has to a substantial secondary character is Victor Strand, and even he's become increasingly uninteresting. Speaking of …

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The characters aren't very interesting or likable

One of the strengths of The Walking Dead has been how each of the characters has a rich, complicated, and sometimes regret-filled history, that helps them overcome obstacles of the apocalypse. Fear the Walking Dead's little league of misfits, however, are far less resourceful or storied. Some are even just flat-out dumb (lookin' at you and that radio, Alicia), while others are frustratingly irredeemable (hey, Nick) and otherwise not in possession of any leadership skills whatsoever (ahem, Madison). Overall, they're mostly knee-jerk reactors who fumble-bumble their way into one mess after the next, and really have no plan, direction, intuition, compassion, or even common sense. (Maybe a zombie herd will wipe 'em all out soon, and we can start over with a fresh batch.)

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It's not surprising enough

We're now half a dozen seasons deep in The Walking Dead, so we already know most of the "scientific" rules surrounding these undead creatures. We've also seen just about every artful way imaginable to filet a zombie so, without diving into the backstory and dissemination of the disease, there's literally nothing new that Fear can show us that we haven't already seen. It's an entire show of "been there, done that", basically.

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It's guilty of the same major fail as The Walking Dead

Oh, how the wheels they spin. Since there's such a narrow focus on this one extended family, and whoever they happen to meet along the way during their aimless journey, the amount of heroes here are few and far between. So, it's hard to buy that any of the supposedly important people are ever in any real danger, no matter how grim the scenario they're put into (consider that time Strand was miraculously saved from a sinking raft, after it was shot up by pirates).

Just like its predecessor, FTWD fails to make us feel actual fear for these characters — which is especially bad in this case, because that's the one word they added to the title for the prequel. Even when a character is killed off or abandoned to starve to death, the scenes rarely have the kind of shock factor it would take to separate it from the former, and thus it's hard to care.

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There isn't a comic to build up anticipation

Even though The Walking Dead is also guilty of many of these issues, a lot of fans are still in it because they know ,from the comics, there's still a lot of upcoming characters and locations to anticipate. Fear the Walking Dead is only loosely based on the world of Robert Kirkman's comic series, so there's nothing that fans can specifically point to as a major moment of eager anticipation. At this point in the timeline, there's no King Ezekiel with his tiger on the rise, and Negan's probably off somewhere swearing at the school kids he used to coach. In other words, there's nothing to really look forward to, and if Fear doesn't shape up, there might soon be no show at all.