In TV, the phrase “You are dead to me!” has real meaning.
Funeralwise, a site that encourages people to take care of their end-of-life preparations, says there have been scores of bodies piling up in prime-time this season -- some 132 bodies in one week, by one estimate analyzing some 40 shows.
But more than other channels, pay cable TV networks disply the grimmest images of dead bodies: Starz’ “Spartacus: Vengeance” gets top honors -- averaging 25 dead bodies -- in each episode, says Funeralwise (Or maybe for the season? Does this include repeats?)
Another violent fantasy-theme action show, “Game of Thrones” from HBO, typically tosses around 14 lifeless souls.
HBO has had its share of dead body sightings in other shows: “True Blood” and before that “Six Feet Under” which followed the travails of a California family’s funeral business.
Overall, Funeralwise says this amounts to some problems. While the media has no problem giving viewers the idea of death, real-life decisions about funerals are generally put off.
“There is a clear disconnect between the acceptance of death in popular culture and the acceptance of it in reality,” said Funeralwise director Rick Paskin, according to a blog on the site.
So TV is providing a marketing service to the business.
Virtually every single crime/legal drama -- broadcast or cable -- seems to start with some sort of suspicious death, which gets solved at the end. Sprinkle in a few mid-episode demises, as well.
In addition to regular humans, there are fantasy versions of humans who meet their makers. “The Vampire Diaries” on CW was the deadliest show for non-humans, with 18 vampires killed; AMC's “The Walking Dead” had 16 zombies zombied.
Advertisers like these shows because of predictably. CBS talks about solving the mystery, which attracts large amounts of female viewers. Funeralwise says about TV: “Someone is dying about once every 13 minutes, and it's usually not from old age.”
But too many dead images in the shows of “Thrones” or “Spartacus” probably wouldn’t work for big TV marketers. The violence level is off the charts versus what hey are use to on ad-supported TV. That said, young-skewing advertisers -- movie marketers, video game publishers, and host of direct marketers -- would probably come on board.
Still, we are not too sure all this would move viewers to make more end-of-life plans.
TV can do a lot in life. But when you are dead apparently you’re of little use to marketers.