When Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang and her colleagues started writing the Commonwealth arc back in 2019 — “That’s how long it’s been brewing,” she tells TVLine — they didn’t set out to mirror modern-day disparities between the haves and the have nots. And yet, based on Sunday’s episode (recapped in full here), they kind of did just that. (Read our full recap here.)
“In order to tell this story about a society that is stratified by class, we were looking at a lot of historical moments and talking about things that wound up being very relevant to our current moment in time,” she says. “We were talking about different societies that have caste systems and class issues in the United States as well as in other societies.
“We talked about the civil rights movement, we talked about the year 1968 and the aftermath of the Spanish flu,” she continues. At the same time, “the pandemic started and the George Floyd protests were happening. So we’ve been very steeped in a lot of historical movements around the way that society works and how American government works and the way that people feel stuck and what that can do.”
In the end, Kang & Co. couldn’t help but be affected by real-world events. “We don’t write in a vacuum,” she says. “Of course we’re being influenced by our own emotions, thoughts and experiences as we’re living our day-to-day lives and seeing the things that happen around us. But there’s also such a wealth of things that we’re drawing from that aren’t tied to this exact moment.
“I think because [Robert] Kirkman was writing this section of the comics very recently compared to when the show started and when the first issue was written, he was picking up on a lot of things that were brewing in society,” she adds. “So there are probably a lot of things that are going to feel closer to what has been happening [in the episodes to come], but it’s not always necessarily because we’re doing [material that’s] ripped from the headlines.”