New TV Show Explores Immigrant Experience Amidst Apocalyptic Setting

While zombies and the immigrant experience don’t immediately mesh in most people’s minds, a popular network TV show is about to combine the two in an exciting new way. Fear the Walking Dead, prequel to the popular AMC series The Walking Dead, is scheduled to debut next month and will explore the weeks leading up to a worldwide “zombie apocalypse,” as a mysterious virus runs rampant and turns ordinary citizens into flesh-eating ghouls. While the drama will undoubtedly offer plenty of grisly zombie action to satisfy fans of the original Walking Dead series, the show’s creators are hoping that an immigrant family featured on the show will also educate viewers about the unique challenges faced by first-generation immigrants in the United States.

During a recent roundtable discussion at 46th Comic-Con International, an annual entertainment and comic book convention held in San Diego, California, Fear the Walking Dead executive producer, Gale Ann Hurd, revealed that the show will feature a character named Ofelia Salazar, a first-generation American, and her father Daniel Salazar, a Salvadorian immigrant. Together, they experience the escalating apocalypse as it changes the world around them, and, as the story unfolds, truths about themselves and their respective pasts are also revealed. Ruben Blades, who plays Daniel and is a popular salsa singer in his native Panama, said in an interview with the blog io9 that the show will “…deal with the immigrant experience, immigrants who come here for a new life and what they want for their children, to have a better life than they did. That has all changed irreparably [by the apocalypse].” Mercedes Mason, who plays Ofelia and is herself the daughter of immigrants, agreed that the apocalyptic setting of the show imparts a new perspective on the immigrant experience. “Ofelia is the daughter of immigrant parents. So she has a lot of allegiance to them … I come from immigrant parents, so I know even growing up … you feel like you have to take care of them. So when this happens, when people start turning [into zombies], she doesn’t know who she can rely on.” [See How ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Will Explore the American Immigrant Experience, by Lauren Davis, IO9, 11.Jul.2015.]

Although the immigrant family featured on Fear the Walking Dead is fictional, many of the (non-zombie-related) challenges they face as they pursue new lives in America are not. And while the premise of a zombie apocalypse may seem at least a bit farfetched, the characters of Daniel and Ofelia Salazar display many of the same traits fighting zombies that many immigrants must possess in the real world as they adjust to a new homeland – perseverance, resilience, and a sense of hope for a better tomorrow.


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