Written by Duana

Oh boy. So the showrunner of The Walking Dead, Frank Darabont, has stepped down. All the usual caveats apply. Don’t know him, never worked with, etc.

I’m not surprised.

The first season was six episodes. Which were based on a comic book, and Darabont wrote them, in whole or in part, himself. And given that he comes from film, and that he didn’t know necessarily if he’d have a second season, I believe he wrote a cohesive beginning, middle, and end to season 1.

Then he said in an interview that he was considering not having a writing staff on season 2 (though he ultimately did). He was doomed.

Second seasons are brutal. Expectations are high. You have to either match or trump the ratings you got before. You have to grow and change all the characters. You have to ‘fix’ all the problems that you didn’t know were problems, but that now the network or studio or wardrobe department cannot abide even one more day.

And they are produced at a breakneck pace. Cheaper, Faster, and Better is the expectation (the retort that always comes back is “Pick Two”) and it’s very, very difficult to do. There are too many issues, meetings, people wanting to be paid more, people with opinions on the direction of the show, and the only thing you have to rely on is your team.

Except Darabont didn’t want a team, remember? He wanted to assign scripts to (and then rewrite – editorializing mine) freelancers rather than have people be in the sh*t with him every day. Now as he steps down, it’s unclear whether the writing room will remain, since the team is still in production for 13 episodes that comprise season 2.

Ego will get you every time. But this – along with everything, really – goes into my basket of comebacks when people say that movies are ‘better’. They are longer in development and substantially SHORTER in production. TV is a marathon. Those with the best of intentions in the beginning of the season can get utterly buried by episode 4 or 6. I wonder if Darabond didn’t know what he was getting into.

Do I think you should worry about your fave show, if in fact this is that? Arguably. I don’t think it will be neglected – in fact, I think there are many many people in charge of making it better (and we know what that many cooks can do) – but I think the idea that only one person, the auteur, can make the show happen isn’t entirely correct. Like, I, with the rest of you, bemoaned season 7 of Gilmore Girls, when Amy Sherman-Palladino’s bluff was called and she wasn’t back on the show – but I wonder whether we would have been exhausted with that long-in-the-tooth series anyway by then.

Likewise, some people will complain, when The Walking Dead hits the air, that it’s missing something without Darabont. But maybe that was missing all along. Just saying.

Attached – Darabont at Comic-Con just a few days ago.

Photos from Frazer Harrison/Gettyimages.com