As a fan of the AMC’s The Walking Dead, zombie is no longer a scary or innovative theme for me. However, Dead Set definitely gives a new meaning to the zombie theme, that TV viewers and producers are all zombies in this era of entertainment.
In the beginning, Dead Set first brings us to another reality TV show, the Big Brother. Although the Big Brother contestants will definitely be the major characters of this show, they are not the only “contestants”. We see the staff behind the making of the famous reality show before, not long, the zombie outbreak. At this moment, the production staff also becomes the contestants in a reality show named Dead Set, in which we the audience root for Kelly and boo at Patrick (or vice versa, or both) when they are cheating and swearing and later running and fighting for their lives. And more ironically, the show does not try to hide this sarcasm: when Kelly runs into the big brother house covered in blood, the others all think that she is a new contestant.
In the era dominated by entertainment business, everyone involves in the culture are trapped and gradually become numb about society. When there is a riot in London, the only thing that the production team cares about is whether their show can on air; When people are dying and screaming outside, the Big Brother contestants only thinks that they are crazy for them and get drunk for celebrating their fame; And the supporters outside the studio, despite an obvious crisis in the country, care about a TV show over their society. The show presents this problem explicitly by Joplin’s first line: “What is TV anyway? It’s just a big fat arrow pointing away from the problem”. And the producer’s attitude to the riot also proves this view, as he says “why don’t they (protesters) just watch TV”. Yet, pathetically, though being aware of the problem about media, Joplin’s, who wants someone to hear his voice, only choice is to be on the TV so that he will get attention. It is so ironic that both the production team and the contestants believe that they control the show and the audiences until the audiences – the zombies that are produced by them and the entertainment industry – get back to them.
Just like many scenes shot from the glasses outside the big brother house and depict the contestants like being trapped and watched in a box, everyone – producers and receivers – are all trapped in the entertainment culture, not only television but all forms of social media. That is the reason why we see Kelly tries to escape the studio but eventually has to go back into it, where I believe they would never get out in the entire season and at the end die in. In the present day that we are surrounded by entertainment culture, we are also surrounded by zombies that are numb about every other thing, and may eventually turn into one of them. And this is exactly the horror we should be afraid of in the postmodern age.