Once upon a time there was a comic titled, The Walking Dead. The comic became a TV show… and the TV show exploded into an epidemic.
Last Sunday night was the Season 4 premiere of this immensely popular show, and it wasn’t just a handful of comic book nerds watching it. In fact, more viewers in the 18-49 demographic watched the Season 4 premiere of The Walking Dead than any other show this fall, including any NFL game. The season premiere drew 16.1 million total viewers, 10.4 in the 18-49 demographic.
What is the draw to this genre?
As risky as it is for me to say, as author of the book The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers …but the zombies are not the attraction.
People (especially young people) love stories of survival. Name it, Hunger Games, Divergent, Lost… World War Z. Audiences can’t seem to consume enough stories featuring likable characters fighting against the odds and being faced with moral dilemmas in their struggle to survive.
Parents, coaches and youth workers can use this survival genre to springboard conversations with teenagers.
As a parent of several teenagers, I’ll be the first to admit I’m always on the lookout for any ways to connect with my own kids. If my kids get excited about something in pop culture, I find they are eager to talk about it. This provides opportunities to engage them in meaningful conversation. Shows like The Walking Dead provide many of these moments.
In last Sunday’s premiere we saw a prime example of this. A small group of survivors have found refuge in an abandoned prison. The group keeps encountering wandering survivors who would like to join their little community. This creates a moral dilemma. Some people want to help these people in need, but many of these people have evil intentions and prove to be harmful to their community. As a result, the group adopts three questions to ask travelers as a litmus test of sorts. But even this test is only the first step to evaluating what is best for everyone. This begs the question: what’s the moral response?
Does this relate to real life? Have you ever pondered if we should help every needy traveler we encounter, even at risk to our own safety? Where do we turn for these answers?
In The ZombieApocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers, the two lead characters, Chris and Cody, encounter a girl who seeks refuge and safety. They decide to let this harmless traveler stay with them, only to find her gone in the morning along with many of their supplies including their bow and arrow. Immediately Chris and Cody begin arguing whether they should help people in the future. The discussion questions at the end of the chapter turn to the book of Proverbs for answers.
Are you engaging in real life discussions with your kids?
Where do your kids turn for answers?
How can you use fictional stories to springboard these kinds of conversations?