NOTE: The following story is not for the faint-hearted. If you are sensitive about things pertaining to death then this is your cue to flip the page. If not, then welcome to the dark side, where we talk about the dead and dying with no remorse or respect.
Maybe that’s taking it too far on my part to scare you, but Sony Max’s 1 000 Ways to Die is as blunt as I was trying to be.
If you’re hearing about it for the first time, the tagline reads: “WARNING: The deaths portrayed in this show are real and extremely graphic. The names have been changed to protect the identities of the deceased. Do not attempt to try any of the actions depicted. You will die.”
Now you’d naturally expect half of the people watching the TV to have fled at that point, but judging by the show’s success, people seem to settle into their couches and watch as stories of fellow humans’ expiration take centre stage.
The series zooms in on strange and bizarre deaths and unlike another show, Curious and Unusual Deaths, on the Crime and Investigation channel, 1 000 Ways to Die mocks the dead by implying that they were stupid to die, given their circumstances at the time.
It is like that drunk uncle who says negative and shocking things at a beloved’s funeral. So on the one hand you feel the show is being disrespectful to the dead (because, for some reason we should respect them), but on the other hand you feel that this is a production you should have though of first.
Styled in a format inspired by comic books, 1 000 Ways to Die is just that. If the notorious MAD Magazine was a TV show and decided to do eulogies on a few dead people, 1 000 Ways To Die is what you’d get. It shows us just how frail we are in the face of the Grim Reaper and how everything from a chewing gum to a spill on the floor can cause your demise.
The stories covered are recreations of actual deaths which are spiced up by smart comments sprinkled throughout the narration with clever punchlines at the end.
Through artistic license, many of the facts leading up to a death are changed so as to heighten the entertainment value. And so far that has worked for the producers.
They have, in some ways, demystified the gloom that is associated with death. You will find yourself laughing in parts at just how they use clever dialogue to describe an event leading up to someone’s demise.
However, in mid-laughter you can’t help but think of the families who lost their loved ones, of how cold-hearted society has become that we celebrate the death of strangers as entertainment.
With so many possible TV show ideas sitting on some commissioning editor’s table, it is sad that a show like this got the nod.
• 1 000 Ways to Die, Friday, 10pm, Sony Max (DStv channel 128).