Thanks for the comments. Great stuff.
I was having a conversation last night with my brother (who has been watching the series from the very beginning because he's not an idiot like me), and it sounded a lot like everything you said above. What I would add to it, though, is that in addition to all of the human struggle and dramatic aspects of the show that I agree are at the core of its success, it is still a damn good zombie story to boot. Not only are the special effects groundbreaking (I mean, why wouldn't they be with the legendary Greg Nicotero at the forefront of it all?), but the actors who play the zombies are top notch, and the background score, sound editing and camera work are all fantastic as well. Not only does the show make me think, but it scares the shit out of me at the same time. Only a truly phenomenal show could deliver all of those elements in one package.
5/18 Anaal Nathrakh (?)
5/21 MDF XIII
5/24 MastoClutch (?)