I’m in training for the apocalypse.
Being a modern woman is tough. There are a lot of expectations on you that often lead to spending nights in retreat, curled up into a ball, watching Netflix lying amongst crumbs which originate from food presented in packets, or made by fifteen year olds and handed through a window.
We’ve got friendship nailed. We’ve got no idea what we’re doing when it comes to love (and 50% of us who marry ‘the one’ send them packing again soon afterward.) Charlotte York put it best in Sex and the City when she said, “Don’t laugh at me, but maybe we could be each other’s soul mates. Then we could let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with.”
And we said, “I guess we’d better get back to paid work/housework/leaning in.”
And we stopped watching Sex and the City and we started watching The Walking Dead.
If you’re uninitiated, The Walking Dead is a comic book turned television series about a guy called Rick who leads a pack of survivors as they battle to live and thrive in a post-human world filled with zombies.
By rights it should be rubbish but it’s utterly compelling.
34 million people like the Global Walking Dead Facebook page, and 1 million people like the Australian Walking Dead Facebook page. A big part of its appeal is that its characters are particularly human and are multi-layered. There are no sidekicks, bit players, or love interests who can’t also wield a sword, feed a camp, or lead an army. They’re hectic loyalists who stick tight to their group believing, for the most part, that they’re stronger together.
And it makes me want to start working out.
Early in the series, main character Carol transforms from a domestic violence victim to an assertive, gun wielding leader. She loses a child. Later, she kills another.
Super fox Maggie grows from sheltered country girl to diplomat via a bunch of close calls that require her to use athleticism, agility, wit and strength to survive. Modern samurai Michonne emerges stronger from a personal tragedy to turn from foe to friend. There are sweethearts who make good choices and retain their innocence in a bloodthirsty, biting new world. There are victims who react badly, freeze, or fight back. They all go down swinging.
In The Walking Dead, the survivors are flashed forward into a world that can be post-misogynist and post-colonialist – a brave new world. They get to hit the reset button and create a new world. Save for a few zombies here and there, they’re free from most forms of danger. There’s no global financial crisis when there’s a global zombie crisis. There’s no unemployment when everyone’s a full-time zombie killer. There are no equals seeing one another as anything but.
10 Cloverfield Lane, the film sequel to Cloverfield, stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim), as Michelle, a car accident victim who becomes trapped underground by a man who is either a harmless doomsday prepper, or a psychopathic nutter. She uses some very cool tricks to survive: sharpening the foot of a crutch into a spear; lighting a fire to set off an alarm; wedging herself into an air vent; and creating protective clothing with only the surroundings from her bunker.
These girls aren’t helpless. They’re inspiring. They’re not lying in their beds watching Netflix. No one’s coming to their rescue and they’re not expecting that anybody will. They’re not being written as damsels in distress, as love interests or femmes fatale. They’re humans with their wits about them.
I want to be a post-apocalyptic woman, relied upon for my skills and strength. I want to live in a world of immediate consequences and uneasy truces, where you can count on the goodness of the person next to you knowing that they’re doing the same to you – because at least you know where you stand.
I’ll start training with the Zombies, Run, app, and I’ll be ready.
(Zombies, Run is a real thing: )