Monday, April 8, 2013

I Love Zombies - Don't Knock 'em Till You Try 'em

In my house, I am the minority; one girl vs. three boys. So more often than not, I have to make my voice, my rules, needs and wants, heard a little bit louder. But I have also learned that silence speaks volumes.

And I have also learned that keeping quiet and just letting things ‘go’ gets me farther.

So when it comes to the television, a contradictory means to bring my family together, I have learned to just let things ride, within reason, and just go along with whatever they are watching. Sounds weak, yes, but half the time I am reading, making notes for writing, or nodding-off. So really, why battle it?

At the same time, nothing clears a room faster, ensuring personal peace and tranquility, than turning on a ‘chick flick.’ Pick your battles and all that.

But more often than not, I don’t get to watch the shows I want to watch. In the spirit of keeping the family all in one room - whether for half an hour, an hour, or even better yet, an hour for a movie - I will put-up with watching shows that I would never watch in a million years.

Compromise I guess, and really, it’s JUST television.

So last year when they were all involved in following a show about zombies, specifically AMCTV’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ I mentally rolled my eyes and kept quiet. While sitting with the family as zombified blood and guts filled the screen as non-zombified humans fought back, I stuck my nose in a book and tuned it out. But the good mother I am would always listen with rapture to recounts of the ‘best scene ever.’

But over time as I occasionally peeked over the top of my book only to see the gore seemingly ooze through the screen, I began to follow the show. And it wasn’t just about zombies.

Just a sec - I have to wipe the zombie blood-splatter out of my eyes.

There, that’s better.

For those who don’t know, the show follows a group of people trying to survive in a desolate and post-apocalyptic world – battling for survival where zombies rule, food and shelter is scarce, and sometimes battling greater obstacles than the zombies.

I won’t say anymore, as I don’t want to ruin it for those who might become fans.

I realized the show is much more than the non-zombie human characters fighting the zombies to stay alive. For me the show became an education in writing.

Watching the characters journey through their new world – a world that is a mere reflection of what once was since the apocalypse and the zombies took over – was much more than the fantastic killing and gore. The characters new world also consisted within their social circle of survival; trying to get along and navigate personalities while trying to survive. Their homes destroyed and unsafe, they were strangers who found each other – the only non-zombie inhabitants of the cities they once called home.

Through my fingers covering my eyes - too scared to watch, but too mesmerized to look away - I soon realized all this was what writing fiction was all about; the characters, their journey, and their world.

The characters personal journeys while always under the threat of the undead is what has made the show the most watched drama in basic cable history. Sure the fantastic battle scenes of spurting blood and guts, never mind a rolling head or two at the hand of a sword or knife, is always a bonus. And it’s rather empowering to watch a woman blow off the head of a zombie with a M16.

I never knew I had it in me. I am not a zombie kinda-girl. I have learned the true meaning of ‘don’t knock it till you try it.’ And the best part? Zombies have helped my writing.

Not only have I become aggressively involved in the show, counting down each week to the next episode, and counting down months to the next season, but I have also learned what good fiction is all about. As AMCTV's tagline says 'Story Matters Here.'

And the best part is a show following the weeks’ episode called ‘The Talking Dead.’ Stars from the show, celebrity zombie-fan guests, as well as directors and writers sit down and, with the host, analyze the recent episode. But they don’t necessarily talk about the goriest scenes.

They talk about the characters and the story – two that go zombie hand in zombie hand. They dissect the characters, each of their respective journeys, character arc, story arcs, and symbolism within the show that might not have been picked up by viewers previously. Wow – what a writer’s dream. A writing workshop I can sit and watch from my own comfy couch, waiting for my racing heart to calm.

Yes, zombies might not be for everyone, but a threat is a threat, even if it’s among living humans, and that’s what makes a good story.

Take it from me – don’t knock it till you try it, let zombies improve your writing, and be careful when you open your front door. You never know what might have happened to the pre-apocalyptic world outside....

I guess I will be entertaining more of my family’s television choices.

*Photo courtesy of AMCTV's 'The Walking Dead'

(Spoiler - the title 'The Walking Dead' doesn't mean the zombies...)


  1. I am a BIG fan of The Walking Dead. It's been a fascinating study in character (as has another fantastic AMC show, Breaking Bad), watching Rick almost devolve as he slowly loses his humanity over the course of the past few years. There was an excellent "save the cat" moment in the first episode where he went back, well out of his way, to put a leg-less zombie out of its misery. Did that moment ever say so much about him! He now seems to be, thankfully, getting his humanity back. Love that show! And, hey, everything's always better with zombies. ;-)

    1. ROS!!! I didn't know you liked that show!!! Sheesh! Just when you think you know a gal! We definitely have to have talk more ;) Yes, you are so right - it is a fascinating, heart-racing, stomach-rolling study in character and story! We need to talk to zombie for sure!! Thanks for reading, and watch for walkers! Lisa

  2. OMG (goodness that is...) I can see it coming... a zombie Romance.... Rebellious playboy turned zombie, Rip Nickles, never expected a second chance with high school sweetheart, Jane Hotie, when she joined the Anti-Zombie Force (AZF.) Now she is a single mother and he's back, trying to persuade her to give up her M16 and become a double agent. She is tempted, ...Rip closes in but Jane's sharp wit and adorable child make him think about fatherhood and forever ... But that's against all the rules.
    Great blog Lisa. Always something that captures the imagination.

    1. Wow! Thanks Al! That was great! Full of great ideas! Thank you for this and for your kind words. Lisa