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Key Questions — What to Watch After the Apocalypse

Key Questions — What to Watch After the Apocalypse

Key Question, our new show exclusive to Alpha,  follows Marisha and Matt on a train of logic to examine and analyze the hidden meanings in some of the most famous pop-culture figures, all on a quest to discover if pop culture is our salvation or our doom and everything in between. In this week’s episode, they ponder notions of death and a “hopeful Apocalypse.”

It may have been the headiest episode yet. Such mysteries pondered. So many topics to branch out into. Let’s just get straight into it, then: if a discussion of the lighter side of misery tickled your brain, you’ll find plenty of thoughts to chew on, tears to shed, and smiles to find after exploring these recs.

Dead Like Me

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Somewhere between Bleach, Final Destination, and that other Fuller-verse show, Pushing Daisies, this short-lived series explored grim reapers’ job demands and personal lives (as they could be defined). Yep, the lead is girl conscripted to be a soul collector after she inexplicably, and ignobly, dies beneath a falling NASA toilet. With reapers having to corral goblin-like “Gravelings” to actually make these elaborate accidental deaths happen, this mid-aughts series reveals that the afterlife can just be as awkward as the living one. And maybe that’s oddly… comforting?

The Good Place

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Articulating the merits of any story with a big twist is a challenge. The surprise is so dependent on the viewer being lulled into false expectations–and then blindsided!–that any hints are all but sure to dampen the surprise. Quite the conundrum. Though, that’s fitting for a show all about moral conundrums. Without saying too much, this show’s about a woman who seemingly gets into heaven, despite the fact that she probably doesn’t deserve to be there (and knows that all too well). Then… she finds out that existence in “the good place” maybe isn’t as pleasant as it appears.

Some shows have historical advisers. Others bring in active-duty members of law enforcement. This show has a philosophy consultant. To get an idea of how a sunny sitcom can tackle paradoxes of morality read Lili Loofbourow’s piece on the show at the Week. Be forewarned, though. There are spoilers.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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On paper, a sitcom about a young woman reintegrating into society after spending 15 years locked underground in a bunker as the unwitting bride of a cult leader should never work. But as the show’s viral-style auto-tuned intro demonstrates with such catchiness, Kimmy Schmidt absolutely works. It’s got as many deep things to say about moving past trauma as its got good natured gags to spare.

Bailey Shrewsbury of Ball State University explicates the themes and philosophy of the sitcom with “Females Are Strong As Hell:” Kimmy Schmidt’s Hopeful Apocalypse” at the Digital Literature Review. Contrasting Kimmy with other post-Apocalyptic fiction, the piece notes its uniqueness, since the heroine has actually survived two entwined Apocalypses–one personal, one fictional–and strives past them to enter a new era. Even Sarah Connor wasn’t allowed to totally escape Judgment Day in Terminator 2. So… go Kimmy!

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Now, for some of Matt’s recommend further reading…

Mankind has always feared the world is about to mind. Like the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man shows, however, the form of imagined destruction says a lot about a beholder’s eye. In Cracked’s list with a characteristically-hyperbolic title, “6 Mind-blowing Ways Zombies and Vampires Explain America,” the real-life fears underlying our most popular boogeyman are evaluated with year-by-year charts. Could the undead be… political partisans?

Why would monster movies be a place to discuss politics, of all things? In “Death, Dying and the Dead in Popular Culture,” a chapter of his book Handbook of Death and Dying, Keith Durkin characterizes America as a death-denying culture, opting to deal with the uncomfortable subject of mortality in art rather than polite conversation. The essay may get you to see day-to-day entertainment consumption from the outside-looking-in, and maybe even add “thanatological” to your vocab.

Others read Parade periodically for answers. True truth-seekers subscribe to OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying. In issue 4 of its 18th volume, Robert Fulton and Greg Owen get as deep as you can go into this topic with “Death and Society in Twentieth Century America.” The piece ponders that the advent of TV itself–and its coinciding with the invention of the A-Bomb–irrevocably changed how subsequent generations see death. With nuclear annihilation as a very real threat we all got bored with after enough false alarms, and mass media bringing all manner of (simulated) destruction into our living rooms instantly, perhaps we’ve actually been living in a “post-Apocalypse” society for decades already?

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Heavy topics, indeed. Lastly, then, a personal rec for a reliable pick-me-up from Marisha…

“Once you’ve had your fill of doom and gloom, you HAVE to watch the new reboot of the early 2000’s Bravo show. Don’t let the outward-facing concept of it being a reality makeover show fool you. It is SO much more than that. Every episode will leave you in happy tears with a newfound perspective and hope for society. Added bonus: no matter your gender, sexual orientation, race, or creed, everyone can implement the Fab Five’s self-help and lifestyle tips to help make a better you. I know Key and I certainly have.”

Key Question invites fans to dig deep into icons of pop culture and find the hidden meanings their creators intended (or the deeper depths those creators didn’t even realize they were adding)! Tune in on Alpha every week for a mind-expanding, horizon-broadening, brain-blasting headtrip into geekdom. Don’t have an Alpha account? Join for a free 60-day trial with the promo code QUESTION at!

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Image Credits: ABC, Netflix, Showtime

Featured Image Credit: ABC

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