Category: TV

WEEK 1–Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Rejoice–The Walking Dead is back!  I will get you caught up on the first week of eCornell’s/ AMC’s class with a lecture on “The Foundation of Survival”.  I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learned about “Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs” and how it applies to this week’s episode of The Walking Dead (Season 4, Episode 1).


Abraham Maslow was a 1950s-era psychologist who, through his research and observations, developed a hierarchy of human needs.  He placed these beliefs in a pyramid shape with the most important, physiological needs, at the bottom.   Maslow believed that people were “basically honest, self-reliant and self-regulating with a tendency to seek relationships, growth and love.”  Per his pyramid, he thought that it was important for the lower-listed needs to be met before moving onto the higher-listed ones.  He believed that there was conflict when: 1)  these needs were not met or 2) a less important need was prioritized before a more important need was fulfilled.  Here are those needs from most important (physiological) to least important (self-actualization):

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

Many critics of this argue that the order that people experience needs can vary, the order of these needs can vary by culture (for example, some regard esteem more highly than safety) and regression of needs is possible.


Clearly, the post-apocalyptic world that the characters live in shakes up the fulfillment of their lower-level needs.  From a pre- to post- zombie world, this has changed their motivations, as well as their perceptions.   In the most recent episode “30 Days Without an Accident” (Season 4, Episode 1), you can see the relationships and structures that have been created or strengthened by an environment that demonstrates a limited threat to their physiological and safety needs.  However, we see that fulfillment of these base needs has shifted opinions on things, like whether children should be carrying guns.  (According to Carol and Carl, the answer is “Yes, and we’ll teach them how to use them”.)  Even Rick’s three questions to newcomers reflects the difficult choices that have had to be made to fulfill basic human needs: 1) “How many walkers have you killed?” 2) “How many people have you killed?” and 3) “Why?”.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Clara (Kerry Condon) in Episode 1  Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Clara (Kerry Condon) in Episode 1
Photo by Gene Page/AMC

In this week’s discussions, we were asked:

  1. Was anyone self-actualized in their pre-zombie lives?  ( I said Dale)
  2. What would need to happen for Glenn and Maggie for them to reach self-actualization? (I thought that things had to get really good before everyone got there, even these love birds)
  3. Where is the best place to effectively hunker down during a zombie apocalypse? (I picked a mall!)


Leave your thoughts in the comments below and then stay tuned next week for “WEEK 2–Public Health and Infectious Diseases”!


The Walking AbbieAbbie Elliot is a senior contributor for MCM and a writer for ‘Under the Tuscan Gun, part of “The Cooking Channel’s “Extra Virgin” with actress Debi Mazar (Entourage’s Shauna Roberts) and husband Gabriele Corcos. She has served as managing editor for ‘DC on Heels’, and has written professionally for organizations like The White House Commission on Remembrance and AOL/The Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter: @abbie_b_elliott or email


Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

I’ve annihilated Nazi zombies in Call of Duty, taken a class in zombie obstacle courses, watched countless zombie flicks and run zombie-themed 5Ks.  So, I’ve decided to take my love of the un-dead to the next level by getting some real “book-learnin’ ” in.  My course of choice?  “Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead.”

That’s right–in a move that further blurs the fading line between education and pop culture, the University of California-Irvine and AMC are offering an in-depth online course on science and survival.  To all the naysayers: this class syllabus isn’t rocking surface-level fluff—students will explore real, scholarly concepts within the context of a zombie-filled landscape–like “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—is survival just about being alive?”  and “Social identity, roles, and stereotyping—as shown through leaders like Rick and the Governor”.  The courses are taught by four of UC-Irvine’s prominent lecturers; versed in Social Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Public Health and Mathematics.

So, dear readers, to support your laziness and your (understandable/relatable/some-other-word-that-ends-in-able) addiction to The Walking Dead, I will smush my hours of hard learning and hard television watching into weekly post-apocalyptic recaps.

So, catch the season premiere of The Walking Dead on Sunday, October 13, 2013.  Then, check back in when my “semester” begins on October 14 through December 20, 2013–I may need some help with my homework.  Mmmmm, brains…


The Walking AbbieAbbie Elliot is a senior contributor for MCM and a writer for ‘Under the Tuscan Gun, part of “The Cooking Channel’s “Extra Virgin” with actress Debi Mazar (Entourage’s Shauna Roberts) and husband Gabriele Corcos. She has served as managing editor for ‘DC on Heels’, and has written professionally for organizations like The White House Commission on Remembrance and AOL/The Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter: @abbie_b_elliott or email


“Hannibal” – Reawakening the Public’s Psychopathic Appetite

One of the more interesting and comparatively difficult series of books to adapt remains Thomas Harris’s Hannibal series. Now the film adaptation of Silence of the Lambs was and remains a remarkable masterpiece and a personal close-held favorite. However, by the time of Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon, the Hopkins incarnation (which still remains one of the best on-screen performances) had run its course. And with the lackluster book and movie release of Hannibal Rising was the signaling of the death of the character. Which was proper. The original books of Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs were focused on the agents working the specific cases. They were very well seasoned pulp stories that had many very significant elements apart from the novels Hannibal and Hannibal Rising. The main point was that Hannibal Lector was not the main character of the first two novels. He was the part of the novels (and later the films) originally as a very eccentric psychopathic genius that loved to toy with people’s minds as if they were his puppets. But the emphasis was placed more on the killer that Hannibal was helping them catch. Read more

Review: Bailey Ryan and Mindy Robinson Team Up for Veronique Von Venom


It’s official!  Our very own Bailey Ryan has been cast in season 2 of the internet sensation Veronique von Venom: Horror Hostess Hottie, starring Mindy Robinson. Read more

Five Reasons You Should Be Watching ‘Community’

Few shows currently on television are as funny, intelligent and innovative as NBC’s Community. Week after week, creator Dan Harmon and his brilliant writing staff turn sitcom conventions upside down and toy with the very nature of television comedy. Whether crafting episodes that are an amalgamation of tribute to and spoof of classic cinema (“A Fistful of Paintballs,” “For a Few Paintballs More) or setting almost an entire episode in several alternate realities (“Remedial Chaos Theory”), Community is consistently entertaining and mentally stimulating.

The show follows a motley group of friends who attempt to navigate the strange world of Greendale Community College which is overseen by Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) whose implied sexual proclivities are both fascinating and disturbing. Former lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is the study group’s de facto leader since his magnetic charm is too strong for anyone to resist. Each week, the show either cleverly attacks a sitcom stereotype (“Cooperative Calligraphy”) or traces the absurdity of the college experience and what it means to be an adult.

However, much like another inventive show that was ahead of its time (Fox’s Arrested Development), Community is in severe danger of being cancelled. After a four-month hiatus, Community has returned to its Thursday night timeslot (up against CBS’ behemoth The Big Bang Theory) to finish Season Three, but NBC is yet to confirm whether or not the show will get a fourth season. If you aren’t already a loyal viewer, here are five reasons you should be watching Community each and every week.

5. Troy and Abed

Easily the biggest breakout stars of the series are Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) and Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi). These two unlikely best friends are usually the source of each episode’s biggest laughs. Troy is a former high school football star who ends up at Greendale because he broke his throwing arm right before leaving for college. Abed is, well…detached. He understands the world best through references to television and film and isn’t great at reading facial expressions.

Troy and Abed have inspired numerous additions to the pop culture lexicon, but the faux morning show they “host” at Greendale is one of the funniest running jokes on Community.

4. The Many Costumes of Dean Pelton

Even though he recently won an Academy Award for co-writing The Descendants, Jim Rash’s best work is on Community as the flamboyant and sexually adventurous Dean Pelton. Though it is always entertaining to watch Dean Pelton find a way to touch Jeff in every episode, it is his endless parade of ridiculous costumes that makes his character invaluable to the show.

3. Alison Brie as Annie Edison

What else needs to be said?

2. Season-Spanning Jokes

While most sitcoms are made up of self-contained, single episode jokes, Community has become known for setting up punch lines over multiple episodes or even multiple seasons. Here is just one example of how the writers are able to spread a single joke over an entire season. Watch the background carefully.

One of the show’s greatest supporting characters is Leonard (Richard Erdman), an elderly student at Greendale who is living the college life to its fullest. The recurring outburst of “Shut up, Leonard” followed by some insight into the senior citizen’s character is the highlight of any episode.

1. The Writers

Dan Harmon has amassed the most talented writing staff working in television today. Each episode contains hilarious jokes and brilliant dialogue with which no other show can compete. From the racist/sexist/ageist insults of millionaire businessman Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) to Shirley Bennett’s (Yvette Nicole Brown) caring Christian/slightly judgmental worldview, Community is the most reliably funny show since Arrested Development.

The writers are also wonderfully talented at creating “meta” episodes that either examine existing entertainment archetypes or the show itself. Websites created by fans take joy in dissecting the show’s endless references to pop culture and film as well as to past seasons or episodes. However, one of the series’ most crowning achievements is “Paradigms of Human Memory,” which is a flashback episode comprised of events that we’ve never seen before. According to the numerous alternate stories we see, at one time or another, the group was held captive by terrorists, committed to a mental asylum and trapped in a haunted house. If this one episode doesn’t make you a believer in Community, then nothing will.