Online zombie sitcom livens up dead genre

Lizzie Rivard

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“(Un)Dead Seriously,” an online sitcom, has joined Northwestern’s performing arts scene as the first ever “zombicomedocumentary,” the show’s creators said.

The sitcom is a web series written and produced entirely by NU students. According to the show’s Web site, the story follows a “group of college kids that happen to be zombies.”

Makoa Kawabata, a Weinberg junior and one of the show’s creators, said “(Un)Dead Seriously” began last winter when he and co-creator Paul Foryt, a McCormick junior, started to write sketches about zombies in their natural element, going through their daily lives away from humans. They now have seven full-length episodes posted on their site, and several more are in pre-production.

“We thought it would be funny if zombies were just misunderstood and acted differently around people than they did with each other,” Kawabata said.

The creators recruited students from several different NU schools, including the Radio-TV-Film program, to write, produce and star in episodes of the sitcom. Michael Chua, a McCormick sophomore, plays Cedric Sullivan as the show’s “resident nerd.”

“The people involved are not all theater majors,” Chua said. “It’s an interdisciplinary body unified by common interests. It’s just something that we love to do and that’s why we come together to do it.”

Though members of the “(Un)Dead Seriously” writing team often prepare scripts individually, they said the process is usually collaborative.

“It’s a cast show, it doesn’t focus on one or two people,” said Caitlin Schneiderhan, a Communication sophomore who writes regularly for the series. “I think of something that would happen to one character, and once I write it I’ll send it to other actors or writers working on the show and get their feedback.”

Though cast and crew members said “(Un)Dead Seriously” takes inspiration from zombie films and TV shows like “The Office,” they said their creation is new and original.

“One of the important things is that we didn’t want to replicate other shows out there,” Chua said. “We borrow ideas and messages from other shows but we just wanted to make something that’s interesting and unique.”

The cast and crew shoot episodes on campus and at other locations around Evanston, often spending entire weekends in addition to some weekdays putting an episode together.

Kawabata said all necessary funding for the production comes from himself and Foryt only.

“It’s been a sheer force of will that has made this happen,” Kawabata said. “And that’s what I’m proud of.”

All episodes of the series can be found at undeadseriously.com. Though “(Un)Dead Seriously” has not yet appeared on NU Televisionor any other television stations, Kawabata said students are taking notice.

Though zombies are enjoying increased attention in pop culture due to the release of “Zombieland” and other zombie movies, “(Un)Dead Seriously” does not take the traditional approach to portraying zombies.

Instead, the show “humanizes” zombies by placing them in everyday situations, Kawabata said.

“We really want to ‘liven up’ the genre,” he said.

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