Are you a ‘DEAD’-Head?

Carl J. Bachus | culture editor

possible situation?
That’s the question posed every week by AMC’s critically acclaimed drama series, “The Walking Dead.” Based on the ongoing comic book, written by series producer Robert Kirkman, “Dead” follows the trials and tribulations of a group, led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), of survivors after a worldwide zombie outbreak.
The series is most popular for viewers ages 18-45 all over the country, according to the Nielsen ratings, and Pittsburg State is no exception.
“I really like the graphic novels,” said Aaron Heidebrecht, junior in psychology. “Even though they don’t follow them completely, it’s interesting to see how it all turns out.”
Students in Willard Hall, Heidebrecht’s residence hall, have a watch party for “Walking Dead” every Sunday. He said that as many as 15 people will show up to follow the adventures of Rick and the gang.
“It’s just a good opportunity for us to get together and watch people get torn apart,” he said. “It’s a pretty big event, every Sunday.”
Entertainment Weekly calls “Dead” “a nighttime soap with occasional appearances by deceased, but moving, flesh-rotting, flesh-eating cameo monsters.”
Jamie Wood, associate professor of psychology and counseling, said that the mixture of shock value and appointment television may be the reason why “Dead” is such a rousing success among college-aged viewers such as the students of Pitt State.
“There’s an increasing importance placed on shock value,” he said. “Anytime you have a genre, like zombies, adolescents who want to be a part of friendship networks, will watch these shows to be a part of the popular conversation.”
“Dead” continuously proves to be an attractive draw for viewers, with average episode viewership coming in at a respectable 6.5 million, and special episodes being watched by 9 to 12 million viewers.
Students like Mercedes Brink says that fans come for the carnage, and stay for the characters.
“I first started to watch the show purely for the zombie peril,” said Brink, junior in art education and psychology. “Then I started to pick my favorite characters and the ones I wanted to die, so it shortly became about the character drama.”
Sunday’s season finale is expected to bring in big numbers of viewers. According to Entertainment Weekly, last week’s episode brought in a whopping 10.99 million viewers, amazing numbers by cable standards, putting the show’s viewership on par with that of other genre fare, like AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Some students say that the series’ portrayal of the reality of the situation is what keeps the series fresh.
Brink, who watches with a group in Dellinger Hall, says that the show is able to keep her interest, despite her usual ambivalence toward the horror genre.
“You don’t know what is going to happen next,” Brink said. You never know when a zombie attack is coming or when a cast member will die.”
The series is often noted for its tendency to kill off central characters in pivotal moments.
Kathryn Emerick, sophomore in social work, said that the uncertainty of survival is one of the things that keeps the show interesting.
“They’ll even kill off main characters, which is unusual,” she said. “There’s always a twist.”
Due to the various twists and turns of the plot, Brink says that “Dead” is best to watch with a group. She also says that, even though her group isn’t as big as the Willard party, it’s still a fun time.
“There’s normally three of us in Dellinger, and it is definitely better in a group,” Brink said. “That way I can yell at the TV when a character does something stupid, and my friends will more than likely join in.”

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