NEW YORK — Michelle Fiala says her 14-year-old daughter, Laura, is fine watching humans run for their lives from snarling, flesh-eating zombies on AMC's "The Walking Dead," but if one of the characters on the show vomits, the teen has to look away.
"My youngest has a real thing about seeing people vomit," she said in a recent interview from St Louis. "She's got a real phobia about that. She's totally fine when they're stabbing zombies in the head or there's fake blood flying or the zombies are eating people, but when (a character) Denise leaned over and threw up. ...she had to turn away. She couldn't handle that."
Fiala also watches the hit AMC show, airing its season six finale Sunday, with her 16-year-old daughter Emma.
The three discovered it on Netflix about a month ago and have binged to catch up to real time.
"It's so outside of what would be my usual genre for television," said Fiala. "I came home from work one day and my kids were sitting on the couch watching like, 'You have to come watch this!" I was sucked in pretty immediately. You get sucked in by the characters. We have our favourites. It surprises me still that I'm that into it."
Since TV's invention, families have gathered around to watch shows like "The Ed Sullivan Show," ''The Carol Burnett Show," ''American Idol" and now relatives are coming together to watch humans battle a zombie apocalypse on the hit AMC series.
Ericka Calcagno of Farmington Hills, Michigan, looks forward to watching the show with her 12-year-old daughter, Gina, and son Jean-Luc, who is 9.
She says her husband first introduced her to the series and her kids were intrigued by their conversations about it.
"I was a little skeptical at first if it was too much but we watched the first season during the day. Since then we always watch together and discuss it constantly."
They're spirited in their devotion and have even have mastered makeup tricks to look like zombies (or "walkers" as they're called on the show).
"'The Walking Dead' is like the new 'Family Ties,' OK? It's tying families together," said actress and playwright Danai Gurira recently, who plays Michonne on the show. "The thing that's touched me the most is when I've met mothers of adolescent sons who say, 'This is how me and my son bond. It's because we both watch the show.' And you know those adolescent years are tricky years for parents and I was just so touched by that. I thought it was so beautiful that this show is functioning in that way."
At what age kids can handle the gore varies by family.
The violence doesn't bother Calcagno's kids. Instead she says they hypothesize what they would do to survive if zombies were hot on their trail.
Sue Thomas, a mother of three from Waukesha, Wisconsin, watches weekly with her two teens, who are 19 and 17. She's decided her youngest can join in a few months when he turns 15, although he's not happy about the wait.
"He makes sure we know how annoyed he is that we watch and he can't yet."
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Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press