“The Walking Dead” finds life in college audiences


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University of San Diego students are among the millions that tune in every Sunday to see AMC’s survival horror drama, “The Walking Dead.” The show is based on the popular comic series by Robert Kirkman. According to the New York Times, over 17 million viewers tuned in to watch the season five premiere on Sunday, Oct. 5. To put that into perspective, that was 2.5 million more viewers than NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

The audience for the show makes it the most-watched cable drama in television history. This includes AMC’s “Talking Dead,” a talk show that discusses episodes of “The Walking Dead.” It shattered its previous records with an audience of 6.9 million viewers.

Not everyone is a fan, though. Senior Kate Motsinger explained how zombies freak her out, which detracts from the show.

“Not a fan of zombies,” Motsinger said. “I think ‘The Walking Dead’ is unnecessarily graphic and violent. Not my cup of tea.”

Sophomore Amanda Pendleton theorized why people enjoy the show so much, pointing out that it goes beyond the simple attraction of zombie violence.

“It’s a little twisted in a way,” Pendleton said. “But I think the zombie aspect really boils down human dynamics to their core. The show has become less about killing zombies and more about human-to-human interaction.”

The advertising for season three was “Fight the Dead, Fear the Living.” In fact, some of the biggest threats on the show have come not from the zombies, or “walkers,” but rather human characters like the tyrannical governor.

Motsinger believes that most people watch the show because there are massive quantities of violence and gore.

“I think there is an appropriate place for violence and gore, especially in war movies, but ‘The Walking Dead’ just uses a large volume…buckets of blood,” Motsinger said. “I don’t know if it necessarily detracts from the story, but it doesn’t add to the story.”

Pendleton argued that she enjoys the show both as a horror fan and as a lover of social complexities.

“If you’re into scary movies, the show does a really good job of adding elements of horror,” Pendleton said. “Also, I think the show says a lot about human nature, and it forces you to ask questions while you’re watching. ‘What would I do in this situation?’ ‘What are my world views on this problem?’”

Another aspect that the show is famous for is its unpredictability. Literally no character, even main characters, is safe from being killed off. The most famous example is Hershel, the bearded moral compass of the group, who was executed by the governor midway through season four, much to the shock of fans.

Pendleton explained how it did bother her, but it also excited her.

“As someone who is emotionally attached to these characters, it makes me really wary,” Pendleton said. “But as an entranced viewer of the show, I think that it adds so much to it. The writers are totally fearless.”
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.