Shane isn’t crazy.
Yes, he has zombies chasing after him. He has lost his love after her missing husband showed up again, riding a horse and saving the day almost literally. And Shane is keeping secret that he shot a guy and left him for zombie food in a me-versus-him situation.
But that’s just life in the post-apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead,” which airs its midseason finale 9 p.m. EST Sunday on AMC.
An officer of the law before the dead came back to life, Shane now is a man whose life is more than just a little shaken. With other survivors in his traveling pack, he’s just trying to make sense of it all. Actor Jon Bernthal says he doesn’t play Shane as unhinged. He’s just adjusting to the new world order.
“He no longer abides by emotions like shame and guilt,” Bernthal says in a recent phone interview. “He feels in this apocalyptic world, there’s no place for that anymore.”
Shane also sees this new world as his chance to finally be a leader. Once just a sidekick of sorts to Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Shane is seizing the opportunity to be more.
That includes being all buff and chiseled — a direct comparison to the taller and lanky Rick, who is Shane’s best friend but also a rival of sorts. Once when Rick was missing, Shane moved in, having an affair with Rick’s grieving wife and becoming a surrogate father to Rick’s son, Carl.
After Rick turned up very much alive, Shane kept the affair secret and stepped back, albeit with some resentment. Now Shane and Rick are leading a group of other survivors through a world infested with zombies.
Secrets between Shane and Rick threaten their friendship and the balance of the entire group. Rather than talking out his feelings, Shane would rather be seen as more of a leader.
“I think it’s important for Shane to be physically more imposing than Rick,” says Bernthal, a veteran stage and film actor before landing “Dead.” “In their history, Shane was Rick’s pit bull. He’s always been Rick’s number two ... He wants to be more than that now, and that shows up in the way he looks.”
The Washington, D.C., native is finding “Dead” to be the biggest boost to his career. He’s turned Shane from a potential villain to a fan favorite this season even as Shane makes morally risky choices — like shooting an innocent man to save himself from a hoard of zombies. Fans don’t appear repulsed by that.
“I get fans coming up to me and saying they love Shane and they love the show — and they want to know why he shot that dude,” Bernthal says with a laugh. “I can dig that.”
Other highlights for the week of Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 (listings subject to change; check local listings):
“Mad Men” (6 a.m., AMC). The series will repeat from the first episode, continuing with episodes on following Sundays until we get new installments in March 2012.
“Real Deal” (9 p.m., History). The war between collectors and dealers over an artifact of history is the central point of this 10-part series.
“Rizzoli & Isles” (10 p.m., TNT). The second season launches in this crime drama about Boston’s top crime-solving duo.
“America’s Supernanny” (9 p.m., Lifetime). A new spin on the child-rearing reality series, this new hour follows an American nanny looking to straighten out chaotic families.
“The Soup” (9 p.m., E!). The mocking half-hour of reality-show clips, hosted by Joel McHale, moves to this new night.
“I Hate My Teenage Daughter” (9:30 p.m., Fox). The teenage daughter is not so crazy about her mother, who takes every opportunity to embarrass her — by accident, of course.
“Good Luck Charlie, It’s Christmas!” (8 p.m., Disney Channel). Justin Bieber performs “Mistletoe” in this movie-length version of Disney’s hit comedy “Good Luck Charlie.”