I love post-apocalyptic themed TV shows: The Walking Dead, Revolution, and Falling Skies are my potato chips… I just can’t get enough! Not only are these shows extremely well cast, produced, and directed, they have fantastic character development, and the story lines are riveting. The sociological aspects, as mentioned in my previous post – The Monster Mash – What’s With the Zombie Thing in Emergency Management? – are extremely thought provoking. What would people do to survive? How would they act?
In case you aren’t familiar with the shows: Revolution is a new show this season. It uses as a scenario a global power outage and takes place 15 years after this outage. The cause for the outage isn’t known, and it seems that the cause continues to suppress any and all electrical power. Falling Skies takes place present day and is about a very diverse group surviving a brutal alien invasion. The Walking Dead, just in case you happen to be living under a rock, is about a zombie apocalypse. If there was just one to pick, it would be The Walking Dead – which actually has a great blend of the other two, with its own twists added in.
In all three shows, government, as we know it, does not exist – or at least has not revealed itself. That said, in two of these shows – Revolution and Falling Skies – societal groups have formed a hierarchy, supposedly for the mutual benefit and protection of the group. In Falling Skies the government structure is a bit more benevolent and focused on taking care of its people – to the point of taking an isolationist view with the rest of the world, including the alien invaders. In Revolution, the government structure we see is very much a military dictatorship focused on control. If you watch both shows, it’s evident that other government structures outside of these are certainly possible and very likely. What would happen in our world absent government?
In The Walking Dead we see small groups of people coming together for mutual benefit and survival – certainly not as large as we see in the other two shows, and not large enough to be considered any attempt at ‘government’. Aside from the central group of characters, we’ve seen other groups – all different, but all trying to survive in their own way. Looting is accepted practice both in The Walking Dead as well as Falling Skies – mostly for durable foods and medical supplies. You can have whatever vehicle you see on the side of the road, but fuel is a rare commodity. Revolution is largely beyond looting as it takes place 15 years after the global power outage. Hunting for food is practiced in all three shows, as is some measure of farming.
Commonly across all three shows are the themes that only the strongest-willed people survive and that there is (relative) safety in numbers. Some people are able to utilize their pre-apocalypse skills (such as medical professionals), while others learn new skills and take on completely different roles. People need to be inventive and need to be able to survive the worst and longest camping trip ever. What will our society do? We’ve seen it through many disasters our country has faced. Will there be looting – sure there will. We saw it happen in Katrina. Of course there were the idiots lugging large screen TVs, but most looting was for food. I’m not condoning it, but I’d certainly do it for my family if I had to.
For as much as we complain about our government, it’s difficult to imagine having no government. Having some civil hierarchy gives us structure and order. There have been countless studies done on the innate desire that humans have to be part of a structure or at least being comforted knowing that a structure exists. I certainly think that groups of people would form some measure of government structure on their own. The scary consideration, however, is those who would abuse that power.
Would our society recover? I think it would – although society would look nothing like it looks today.