AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead has succeeded at seamlessly blending the authentic influence of Latin culture and the gory horror of carnivorous zombies. The companion show to The Walking Dead takes place in Los Angeles and, in turn, has a strong emphasis on the cultural melting pot found deep within its diverse neighborhoods. Although the first episode received mixed reviews so far, seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and star actor Ruben Blades claims it’s one of the most progressive TV series on-air.
“The producers did the right thing, which is depict Los Angeles’ diversity, and Latins are part of that,” the 67-year-old veteran told Billboard. “That diversity is impossible to ignore, but is somehow ignored every day by casting directors.”
The spinoff series takes a different direction than the original by placing middle-class, working families at the center of the zombie apocalypse. Set in East L.A., the flesh-eating monsters are fairly new to the city and cause its culturally diverse citizens to band together during their time of crisis. Unlike the original, the new series shows how young adults and teenagers deal with their own internal problems as well as the oncoming Armageddon.
“Los Angeles is a place of immigrants,” said executive producer Gale Anne Hurd to PCM-TV. “It’s a place of invention, it’s a place of rebirth, so you start with characters who are at different stages. You’ve got one character, Alicia, whose about to go off to college, so she has dreams and ambitions. You have a son who is dealing with addiction. You have a new family unit and you have exes and you have resentment from a son who feels that he’s been replaced by these new soon-to-be step-siblings. All of that is very much part of the fabric of L.A.”
For Blades, the show is all too timely. Blades was on the brink of retirement before he was presented with a gig he couldn’t pass up. “I collect comics, including The Walking Dead,” said Blades. “They offered me the role; I didn’t have to audition. But I wasn’t sure whether to take it because I had my retirement plan in place — to retire by 2016. But it isn’t easy to find leading roles at my age. The dramatic challenge is good for me.” The former minister and Presidential candidate for Panama also recently released a new album Son de Panama, out now.