Zombie apocalypse: bringing families together

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Humanity is down to its dregs.

Highly armed pockets of resistance attempt to fight off the menace that’s come over the land.

Ravenous hordes roam streets and forest alike, the hungry undead marching ever onward, searching for some form of life they can devour.

Bleak. Horrific. At times, downright terrifying.

And, admittedly, oddly riveting.

AMC has scored a ratings gold mine with its zombie apocalypse-based series “The Walking Dead,” with more than 15 million Americans tuning in for the Season 3 finale just two weeks ago.

Among those 15 million were three members of the McCollum Clan: myself, my mother and father.

(My younger sister Ansley is put off by the gore and violence, and finds the show “boring” … her loss.)

We gathered together in their living room, largely as we had every other Sunday night, piled into our respective positions on the various sofas and chairs of the family room.

I imagine this is a fairly common scene in the living rooms of America, but if you know the McCollums well, collective show watching is not, nor has it ever been, a major thing for us.

We’ve never really been that family who gather together to watch various shows or even major television events.

Usually, each member of the family inhabits a different room, each watching programming more reflective of their individual tastes.

You’ll find Dad watching old westerns on AMC or almost any programming on the Sci-Fi Network (namely re-runs of the short-lived ‘space Western’ “Firefly”).

My mother is a devoted Fox News junkie, and usually no fewer than three TVs in their home seem to be pre-set to the right-wing channel.

Events like The State of the Union have to be viewed in different rooms; the conservative and liberal wings of our family don’t play well when political speech is going on around us.

However, these last few months, we’ve all jumbled together to see what fate befalls Rick and his fellow survivors, seeing the violence they are capable of against the zombie hordes and against their fellow men.

While the season has been phenomenal overall, I confess I’ve truly enjoyed the viewing largely because of the commentary offered by my parental units while viewing the show.

I knew from my mother’s first outburst of “Why can’t they just turn the lights on? Why are they always walking around in the dark?” that I was in for what could be a fun trip.

(In answer to her questions, lights require electrical power in order to function and, during the zombie apocalypse, it stands to reason that the people manning the power stations had either been eaten or were focused on other things … namely trying to not get eaten.)

The fashion choices of various zombies have been called to question, as Mom was quick to point out an interesting trench coat being worn by one of the “walkers” in a recent episode.

(To be honest, I thought focusing on a zombie’s trench coat was an odd fixation, until she made the point that the coat looked relatively new and clean, meaning the “walker” had just been “turned,” or become a zombie. She is more observant than I give her credit for at times.)

My enjoyment of the show seemingly makes sense: I’m a part of their target demographic that’s grown up in a media market oversaturated with violence and gore, so much so that I’m not only immune to it, but can find it laughable on occasion.

But, for a Southern Baptist church deacon and his rigidly conservative wife to get in on the undead-killing action … well, the folks at AMC must be doing something right.

Our Sunday Night dinners are on hold until the new season picks up in October (try though I might, I can’t get them to pick up “Game of Thrones” as our new show – they probably find the odd bits of nudity slightly unsettling).

So, I eagerly await the family bonding that will be sure to ensue then.

Thanks for all you’ve done, zombies. My family and I thank you for bringing us closer together.

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