That question came to mind early on when I was watching Fear The Walking Dead. It underlies much of the first episode for the viewer who knows where things are going. But put yourself in the head of someone in the show’s world. When do you realize that some really freaky shit is happening?
Spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead ahead.
If you are reading this on the Observation Deck then you are probably already well versed on zombies in pop culture from the Romero movies to 28 Days Later to iZombie and of course The Walking Dead (raise your hand if you’ve seen Zombie Strippers!). But you are also probably a rational First World person who doesn’t expect the dead to rise up and attack people in real life.
The police shooting of a walker like the one on FTWD would be posted on Gawker as soon as they got their hands on the video. There would be plenty of zombie jokes in the comments and probably be a followup post on io9 or Gizmodo titled “No, The Guy In That Video Is NOT A Zombie.” There would be some rational explanation given for what happened because while we may joke about zombies we don’t want to believe they are real.
After witnessing firsthand something like what happened with Cal at the end of the episode I would at least be open to the idea that some freaky shit is going down but I can’t say I would connect all the other things going on (such as the flu-like outbreak at the school) and conclude a zombie event is happening.