Netflix May Have Just Revived The Zombie Genre

Netflix May Have Just Revived The Zombie Genre

Santa Clarita Diet takes a new spin on an overexposed genre.

The recently release Netflix original Santa Clarita Diet may not just be a gory spin on the suburban sitcom, but the future of the zombie genre.

It all started in 1968 with George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. The controversial little B-movie captured the public consciousness like few films have in history. After a long hiatus, Romero returned to the genre he created with 1978's Dawn of the Dead and 1985's Day of the Dead. Zombies dominated 1980s horror, from surreal gorefests like The Beyond to horror comedies like Return of the Living Dead. After years of growing popularity, the genre almost ceased to exist by the end of the decade.

In 2004, the genre was suddenly revived by the back-to-back hits of Shaun of the Dead and Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake. Just a year earlier, a little comic called The Walking Dead had been launched as well, the TV adaptation of which proved to be the peak of the genre's popularity. After years of sustained dominance in movies, comics, video games, and books, zombies have developed something of an overexposure problem.

For every creative project like Max Brook's World War Z, there's a dozen derivative cash-grabs.The Walking Dead remains immensely popular, but its audience seems to have reached its limit, having peaked two seasons ago. The sequel to 2013's World War Z (an adaptation of Brook's novel in name only), once scheduled for release this summer, has been put on hold indefinitely. It seems that the genre may be on the verge of a collapse as it was at the end of the '80s.

This is where Santa Clarita Diet comes in. The show follows married couple Sheila and Joel, a pair of Californian realtors. After coming down with a strange illness, Sheila wakes up with a sudden craving for flesh and no heartbeat. While the characters avoid the term zombie as "inherently negative," that's clearly what she is.

Romero's zombie films were innovative at the time, but innovation becomes cliche after being copied several hundred times. The only way for zombies to survive is to branch out a bit. Screenwriter Max Landis once related a statement from his father, director John Landis, about rules in fiction. Giving the example of how to kill a vampire, he argues that a creator can make up whatever rules they want about fictional concepts. Screenwriters and novelists are not bound by the rules of previous zombie stories, only by the rules they make for their own stories.

Santa Clarita Diet is a great example of how zombies can be done. It ticks enough boxes (undead, eats flesh, etc.) for the protagonist to qualify as a zombie, but it makes up its own rules. This kind of zombie remains intelligent after death, but returns with a lack of impulse control. She still has a conscience, and tries to only eat people that have done something to deserve it. It approaches the tropes of zombie stories from a unique angle, rather than simply using them as a gimmick.

The real problem is not the genre, but a lack of imagination. If zombies continue to retread familiar beats, people will lose interest. The key, as usual, is to convince people why they should care about a given story in particular, rather than solely relying on stories that have come before.

Cover Image Credit: Netflix

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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