WELCOME TO THE beginning of the end of the world. Tucked away within eastern Los Angeles, where the 5 and the 10 freeways merge, is the community of El Sereno. Often overshadowed by the nearby downtown skyscrapers and the glittery star power of Hollywood, it’s the oldest neighborhood in the metropolitan area, full of middle-class families and diverse culture. It also happens to be ground zero for the beginning of the zombie apocalypse in Fear the Walking Dead, AMC’s highly anticipated new “companion series” (as the network calls it) to the very popular The Walking Dead.
But on this particular sunny July afternoon, the screams of terror that one might expect to hear coming from a show like this one are instead replaced by squeals of joy coming from inside a rainbow-colored bounce house inflated on the front lawn of an old single-family home. The streamers, balloons and table piled with presents signal the start of a young child’s birthday party, but attendance is alarmingly slim. “We’re getting a bunch of cancels because of that bug going around,” the hostess explains to neighbors Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), who notice another perspiring pale-faced neighbor struggling to pack up his car between coughing fits. “Slowly, civilization starts to fall apart before our very eyes in our very own neighborhood,” Dickens explains between takes. “And when bad things happen, they happen pretty quickly.”
Fear the Walking Dead goes back in time to explore the early days of the zombie outbreak through the lens of a new urban setting and a fresh cast of characters. “Since the beginning of The Walking Dead, the question that I’ve been asked the most is ‘What’s happening in the rest of the world?’ ” says AMC president and general manager Charlie Collier. “Now, we’re about to see a totally different story, and yet, at its core, this is a character drama just like the first one. These are real people who are going to be pressed in real ways, and then the world starts to turn.”
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