In a shocking move for many ‘Walking Dead’ fans, the show decided to stick 40-something grumpy redneck (with a heart of gold) Daryl with the 19-ish eternal optimist Beth after the Prison Incident of 2013; leading to some icky but totally understandable romantic chemistry. Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely. But it’s also a pretty good idea.
‘Walking Dead”s Daryl & Beth — Why It Isn’t The Very Worst Thing
I feel like I should start this post with a disclaimer, since saying that a 40-ish man should hook up with a 19-year-old isn’t exactly the least controversial viewpoint round these parts — I normally hate age-inappropriate relationships like this on television. One of my biggest problems with the show Pretty Little Liars is how it romanticizes the relationship between a teen girl and her teacher, essentially telling the young and easily-influenced fans of that show that statutory rape is not only okay, but that the laws against it are unfair and constricting when it comes to lovvveee.
But this is The Walking Dead we’re talking about here, people. And while Beth may look young…ish (actress Emily Kinney is 28 in real life), age — and of course, law and order as we know it — was thrown out the window a long time ago on TWD. Carl (Chandler Riggs) killed his own mother. Beth witnessed the deaths of her mother, her father, her boyfriend, some siblings… you get the point. She’s killed. She’s considered suicide. She’s lost her entire universe, but shown a vast amount of maturity by never losing hope. Heck, she even sings! Daryl could do far, far worse.
But let’s back up for a second, here. The Walking Dead has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts ever since its lead characters scattered; shedding its typical Grimes Gang Vs. Zombie format for some pretty inspired narrow-focus episodes. These episodes have brought ‘B’ characters to the front-and-center; allowing for an increase in characterization and the exploration of some previously nonexistent relationships. And the most interesting of these relationships — mostly due to its unlikely and potentially “controversial” nature — is Daryl and Beth’s.
You often hear the idiom “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you were the last man/woman on Earth,” but in Daryl and Beth’s unfortunate universe (well, until this past week), they are living this idiom each and every day. And, surprisingly, they’ve each helped the other grow — Daryl has learned to open up and trust people through Beth, and she has learned to stop feeling sorry for herself and, ultimately, survive.
Plus they’re both extremely good-looking, so it comes as no surprise that some sexual chemistry emerged amidst all of this personal growth and bonding. Did Daryl initially look at Beth as a kid sister of sorts? Sure, but he kind of looks at everyone as a non-essential until they prove themselves otherwise. Beth has become a true source of inspiration and support for Daryl — and she’s really pretty — so he could do far, far worse when it comes to the post-apocalyptic dating scene. And while the thought of them hooking up might be “icky” for longtime fans of the show who are used to seeing a different relationship dynamic, someone who was just tuning in last night for the first time probably looked at them and said, “I’d ship it.”
‘Walking Dead’ — Sex In The Age Of Zombies
Before Daryl and Beth, the only real “icky” relationship issue we had on this show was the Lori/Shane/Rick mess, but that was really only icky because it was so damn soapy, melodramatic, and unpleasant to watch. A hook up between Daryl and Beth, however, would bring up some interesting issues on right and wrong in this upside-down universe. We’ve explored the new state of law and order season after season when it comes to violence, but the show has never tackled the issue of sex in the age of zombies. The rules have changed — if they’re even there at all — and it could potentially be thrilling to watch some characters navigate those treacherous waters.
Unfortunately, the powers-that-be realized that Beth and Daryl might not fly with many fans, so they had her kidnapped right before the good stuff was about to happen. I still have faith, however, that they can pull a Glenn and Maggie and find each other before one or both of them gets eaten by a ferocious tribe of cannibals.
What do you think, fellow Walking Dead fans? Do you agree that Beth and Daryl’s relationship could — and should — get “interesting” this season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
— Shaunna Murphy