“Is the Joke so Bad?” The Walking Dead’s Season 7 Premier and the Grief Process

If you’ve never heard the terms “loss accommodation” or “disenfranchised grief” you’re probably not alone. If you’re a Walking Dead fan, then you may want to look them up before the Season 7 premier.

Both refer to the loss of a favorite character and the mourning process. While loss accommodation is the grieving fan trying to make sense of what’s just happened and how they’re going to fill the void specifically, the latter term is a grief that some consider not okay.

It doesn’t really matter about the two terms as such, but grieving for a much loved character can be just as gut wrenching as the grief that accompanies us when a relative passes on. And if the character just happens to die in a violent way – guess what? Researchers have noted the effect can be quite the devastating one. After all, you’ve watched this character for years, season after season, laughed, cried and cringed with them. Why wouldn’t you feel anything when their demise hits your screen like a bullet through glass? If you don’t, look up the term sociopath, perhaps.

The Walking Dead is a television show unprecedented. Moving into its seventh season Oct. 23, the producers have promised a more violent and gripping storyline to challenge its audience. What’s worse, when describing who Lucile’s victim is, they use the plural form, “characters.” Gulp.

Watching reruns over the last month, I’ve cried briefly over some of the deaths we, as TWD fans, have witnessed. There was little Sophia, and the wise men, Dale and Hershel. The God-awful deaths of Mika and Lizzie, Andrea, Bob, Tyreese and dear sweet Beth. What we thought for a moment was Glenn’s demise became a true loss accommodation process for the Walking Dead collective. The fact is, for some of us, these deaths can impact our real lives.

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As much as we anticipate Season 7’s batting average (mind the pun), I wonder if I can watch it as it airs. I don’t actually want to know who ‘gets it’ this time. Maybe it’s the nature of the attack, the violence of humanity perpetuating it. Maybe it’s a little too close to home after the suspended fantasy zombie attacks – which you can distance yourself from. No, this time it’s different. This time a much loved character – a show regular – is about to get their block knocked off, and that’s the angst of it all.

“…Negan is the Devil in our DNA and it isn’t very flattering.”

The comic book says Glenn. The trailer release suggests Maggie, Glenn, Abraham or Daryl. On top of it all, we know Grimes is about to have his ass handed to him as he’s dragged into Negan’s trailer. But what does all this anxiety mean?

One thing for sure is that a show’s regular(s) will no longer be. And that’s the hard part. Our grief started at the end of season 6 and for diehard TWD fans, it lingered into the unknown abyss of too many questions.

But the darkness lurking is what gets me. Humanity’s brutality at its finest. A true dystopian beast. Negan is the Devil in our DNA and it isn’t very flattering.

As Norman Reedus said of the particular scene that has everyone on edge, “It’s a weird feeling to be that powerless when we’ve always fought to survive, and to just be put on our knees, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get over that wall, you know what I mean? It’s a horrible feeling. I hated shooting all of that. It was miserable. It sucked. It really did.”

Sucks as it may, The Walking Dead will come to a grinding halt one day…

Taking an average from the list below, The Walking Dead may yet have another five to seven years of life in it. The show itself will leave us battered and bruised, questioning our own morals and ethics. The psychology of it all forces us to examine the self, and with another death, how will we react?

We need to remind ourselves that it is only a TV show…

But then, I’d hate to see  how the diehard fans react when it all ends after 15 years…

Some of the longest running primetimes in the past:

Lassie – 1954-1972 (18 years)

Bonanza – 1959-1973 (14 years)

M*A*S*H – 1972-1983 (11 years)

Dallas – 1978-1991 (13 years)

Law & Order – 1990-2010 (20 years)

The X-Files – 1993-current (minus the hiatus okay)

ER – 1994-2009 (15 years)


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