I started watching “The Walking Dead” with my kids recently. I started to watch it when it first premiered. Life events prevented me from keeping up with the series and I wasn’t able to watch the last two seasons in their entirety.
So a few days ago, I decided to start watching it from the beginning. I realized how different everything had gotten since the first few episodes. I wasn’t alone, my two teenage boys started watching it with me.
It’s not completely family friendly and there are gory scenes due to the nature of the show. Since it had been a long time since I had seen the beginning, I had forgotten some of what happened. We all were hooked and wanted more.
I promised them if they completed enough school work on a daily basis, we would be able to watch a few episodes every evening after we ate our dinner.
After the first few episodes, I noticed some things I hadn’t seen when I watched them the first time. I was less emotionally attached and I began to notice the strong moral threads in the show.
If you can see beyond all the guts and gore, there is a strong undercurrent connecting the audience to a sense of family and belonging. It’s not just about surviving life after the ‘apocalypse’ in this series. There are so many lessons to be gleaned from each episode, and putting it all together a bigger theme comes out on top.
The sense of belonging, in reality, is a very strong bond. In family or a group of friends, belonging to someone or something gives a person a connection to life that is worth living.
When my kids and I watched the first episode, Rick Grimes (the main character) woke up alone. He realized the gravity of the situation and was devastated. He didn’t know whether he had his family anymore, he saw people that weren’t exactly normal, and he found out how really dangerous the world had become.
He ended up surviving because of the sense of belonging. Rick, along with a few others, were able to think for themselves, make rational thoughts, and mainly to be what we all know human beings to be.
Without our own sense of self, we would all be the same mindless zombie-like beings walking along in the mundane routine of living. If we stop thinking about our own survival, we are already in a way, going around every day like zombies.
For example, I don’t want my boys to be homeless, so I think every day of how I can keep a roof over their heads. On a more personal level, I get up in the morning and I have to get something to eat or drink because I know if I don’t, I will feel the pain of hunger or thirst.
In the show, Rick wanted to find his family. That strong sense of belonging came through clearly. Not knowing whether they were alive or dead made him stop and think about what he should do.
That moment gave way to another idea, the fight for survival. To stay truly alive, with a conscience to make decisions and a body that functions with more than just basic movement. Rick realized that the ‘people’ walking around aimlessly were not like him, not ‘truly alive.’
Throughout the series, the will to stay alive and survive even with the most primitive of amenities becomes one of the main forces to move the story along. Hot water for showers became a luxury, sleep without fear was unheard of, and everyone had to carry a weapon to be sure of safety.
Several times in the series, someone makes a critical decision. Sometimes the decision made causes a terrible event. Other times, it ends up better for everyone in the long run. I talked to my boys about how making decisions can be difficult at times, but they need to weigh the consequences before deciding. A lot of times it’s the ‘lesser of two evils’ that moves us to make that decision and then we have to live with whatever decision we make whether bad or good.
The sense of belonging, the will to be truly alive, and doing what is thought to be morally right has kept “The Walking Dead” in the list of must-see television shows and I will continue to watch the series with my children and talk to them about the deeper things in life that really matter.