As we were planning TV Guide's inaugural ranking of the Best 100 Shows Right Now, a common refrain was muttered around the office: "Oh, they are NOT going to be happy." It's an unavoidable outcome when it comes to pop culture lists made for passionate fandoms and anonymous internet users. If the internet has taught us anything, it's that it is impossible to please everyone.
Many of you will be wondering why The Good Place made it all the way to No. 1 (because it's forkin' great), or why Bachelor in Paradise is ahead of Billions (turns out real suffering and pettiness is better than scripted suffering and pettiness), or why Southern Charm is on there at all (just trust us). Those are all legit gripes, and we get it. Today's pop culture and television is a breeding ground for hotly debated arguments, and we welcome all sides.
But there's one gripe with our 100 Best Shows list that we know has to be addressed: Where the f*** is The Walking Dead?
AMC's zombie drama — which still can claim to be one of the most popular and successful shows on TV EVER — did not make our list of 100 Best Shows Right Now (it was close, though). I know. I'm sorry... but not that sorry. Because it's time we admit that there are at least 100 other TV shows right now that are better than The Walking Dead.
This wasn't always the case! When The Walking Dead began in 2010, it offered a badly needed shock to television. Horror on TV had never been treated as emotionally or dramatically as The Walking Dead's pilot, and in Frank Darabont's hands, it was nothing short of cinematic. It was everything the comic deserved from a live-action adaptation. It told interesting stories about survival in a world gone to sh--, about loyalty in the apocalypse, and about how humanity changes when the reset button gets mashed.
But as the series went on, weaknesses started to show. Characters that garnered sympathy or hatred in the comics somehow became flatter on the small screen (Tyreese was a shell of his comic counterpart). Storylines were drawn out to excruciating lengths (have you ever hated a farm more?). And the comic's gimmick — a zombie movie without an end — didn't quite translate to television; viewers wondered what the point was. But most importantly, while television as a whole is hitting its zenith in terms of social relevance, The Walking Dead never really had much to say at all. In fact, eight seasons later, The Walking Dead is still telling the same stories about survival in a world gone to sh--, about loyalty in the apocalypse, and about how humanity changes when the reset button gets mashed.
It's not that The Walking Dead has gotten worse; it's that the television around it has gotten so much better. As much as we love the show (we'll watch it to the end), it hasn't truly evolved in the eight seasons it's been on the air. Staying relevant in today's world means adapting and evolving, not merely surviving. Even Rick and his group are finally starting to understand that.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Oct. 7 at 9/8c on AMC. You can check out our full ranking of the 100 Best Shows Right Now below.