Well, strictly speaking I am not watching the zombies themselves. Just the show they’re in, thank you.
Naturally in the sacred tradition of children everywhere when they are watching anything remotely scary on TV, the moment the actions moves from the surviving humans to the zombies, I either put my hand over my eyes (which makes putting them simultaneously over my ears quite the challenge but trust me, it can be done!), hide behind any available cushions (my housemate has extra large zombie-obscuring cushions on the lounge as luck would have it), or simply walk out of the room till my house mate says it’s safe to come back in.
Yes zombies scare the freaking living daylights out of me. I try to think of them as cartoonish figures with a distinct lack of oral hygiene, linguistic skills and a propensity for a non-vegan diet, but that’s not enough to convince me to watch them. Because it is not necessarily what they look like that’s the real issue although it’s obviously not body beautiful on the cover of Vogue lovely; it’s more that I keep thinking that these unthinking nightmarish monsters were once living, breathing human beings who kissed their lovers, sang their kids to sleep, and laughed with friends over dinner.
And now they’re these monstrosities, these abrogations of humanity devoid of all that made them special and unique and that terrifies me more than looking at their rotten, bloodied faces, especially when they’re still wearing their suits, or whatever attire they were in when they became zombified. It’s all too terrible to contemplate so wisely, I don’t.
What I am doing though, little bit by little bit, is beginning to watch AMC’s runaway smash hit, The Walking Dead. I am hardly what you would call a devoted viewer, largely because I have too many other shows already on my slate and no time to devote to a new entrant in the tele-watching field, but I have begun to watch great slabs of a show that I vowed I would never actually watch.
It’s more accidental than anything. Yes you heard me, accidental. I began my growing acquaintanceship with this program by copying any links on the show I saw coming through my Twitter feed and sending them to my housemate. He is the real fan with an extraordinarily high zombie tolerance threshold. Now given I follow a burgeoning number of entertainment reporters and writers, the number of articles on what is one of America’s most favourite TV shows right now were plentiful and so the emails were flowing as freely as poorly thought out platitudes from candidates in the Republican primaries in the USA.
Eventually curiosity got the better of me, and after checking for any zombie photos – they really are not photogenic at all are they? – I began reading the ever-increasing torrent of previews, reviews, plot synopses, and interviews. I read so many of them in fact that I became almost more familiar with The Walking Dead than I am with some other shows I like to watch (which are thankfully undead free).
But it was only the other night when I chanced upon my house mate watching the latest episode – zombie free for the twenty or so minutes I watched it with him – that I realised just how familiar I had become with the show. I could recognise all the characters, knew their names, the state of their relationships with everyone else in the group, and what was happening at that point in the series. I was amazed. My house mate was amazed.
And the zombies? Well who knows what they were thinking (or more likely not thinking) because the moment they appeared I hightailed it out of the room, and thought of kittens, and rainbows and unicorns. But if I had hung around I am sure they would have been amazed too.
It’s amazing what pops up on your pop culture radar when you don’t mean it to. Yep, I didn’t think I would ever watch The Watching Dead, but I am (thanks to Twitter and the internet) and behold, it is very good.
Now if we could just give the zombies a makeover…