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Mayan Apocalypse? No Problem, TV Has Prepared Us

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walking dead

On Friday, according to some predictions based on the Mayan calendar, the end of the world will arrive. As it turns out, those who've been watching a lot of TV might just have an edge on survival.

There's been a ton of apocalypse-oriented TV in the last decade or so, and especially in the last couple of years. You can't swing a remote these days without hitting a zombie horde or a virulent plague. End times make for crowd-pleasers, as far as TV executives are concerned -- given the success of "The Walking Dead" and "Revolution," don't expect the barren wastelands on your screen to give way to more carefree fare any time soon. There's money in electricity-free pessimism, assuming TV networks are around past Friday to monetize it.

But it's not as if every disaster scenario is created equal. I asked "Conan" staff writer Rob Kutner, the author of the amusing and useful survival manual "Apocalypse How" about the dos and don'ts for a would-be hit end-times TV show.

"Beautiful ruins" are key, Kutner said. "Mere crumbling storefronts don't say 'apocalypse'; they say 'Queens.' You want them landscaped, with wisteria and kudzu, like it's an episode of 'While You Were Out Being Blown Up.'"

What do the next "Walking Deads" want to avoid? "Loud, screechy violin music," Kutner replied. "Hey, thanks, Yo Yo Ma -- the upended Statue of Liberty head now being used to barbecue stragglers wasn't enough to inform me something was 'off.'" (Of course, "The Walking Dead" itself has a terrific score from post-apocalypse-TV veteran Bear McCreary, who also wrote the music for "Battlestar Galactica").

So what's the practical information these post-apocalyptic shows have imparted? You're busy, especially as the holidays approach, so we've broken down what you'll need in your go bag when the apocalypse (Mayan or otherwise) approaches.

One place to start is with the list of items Bruce Beach of "Doomsday Preppers" recently recommended, but we think these deserve room in your backpack of doom as well.

What to Pack When the World Has Ended:

  • Under-eye concealer. "You can't get weighed down by bags, and neither should your peepers," Kutner noted.
  • Bow and arrows. All the cool End Times kids have them. 
  • Tissues. "If it's one of those screechy-violin apocalypses, you'll cry a lot," Kutner noted. 
  • Sturdy walking shoes. "No need to carry those extra heels in a bag, ladies, you're a one-pair gal now," Kutner said.
  • Hooch. "Good for self-medicating, actual-medicating and beer-goggling your way back to repopulation," according to Kutner.
  • A knife. Even if you've doomsday prepped with the best of them, you're going to run out of ammo eventually, unless you stumble across an armory (and if you do, it will undoubtedly be full of psychos and/or zombies). 
  • Dry shampoo. You can't have your hair looking greasy when the hot militia guys show up!
  • Henley tees and plaid shirts. Be prepared to rock a grunge look. Don't forget to throw in a few tank tops that'll show off the sick biceps you'll develop from chopping wood/axing zombies etc.
  • Family. 'Cause (sniff) they make it all worth while! 

Want more intel on what to expect when you shouldn't expect anything good? Check out our Rate That Apocalypse slide show!

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