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“The Walking Dead’s” scary, necessary lesson about American childhood

Caught like a kid with her hand in the cookie jar, Carol tried to keep her kiddie self-defense class a secret for the first two episodes of "The Walking Dead." Casting herself as some sort of post-apocalyptic Mother Goose, her daily version of storytime ended with a lesson in knifecraft. Once found out, she pleads with Carl like a kid who has gotten a bad report card: Whatever you do—don’t tell Dad! Why, many viewers and critics have wondered, would anyone object to teaching children to defend themselves when walkers are always at the door? Simple. Carol fears that Rick, like his misguided late wife Lori, and like the American viewers who tune in faithfully each week, need children to remain innocent, no matter what the cost. A quick glance at the stories we’ve told ourselves for centuries reveals a persistent tendency to categorize children as one of two things: innocent victims or bad seeds. Carol’s impromptu self-defense classes blurred that line in ways that she feared would scare Rick, as it certainly scares most Americans.

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