Death and Dying in Media: Fact-Checking the Fiction

Death and Dying in Media

Who says it’s too late to be talking about horror? 

In this month’s episode, Pete and Amber explore how death, dying, and funerals are depicted in the media. Amber, with her penchant for horror movies, offers a unique perspective, revealing the dual aspects of death in cinematic and television narratives—between the gruesome and the serene. As the conversation unfolds, the duo delves deeper into the accuracy of these portrayals. Amber underscores the profound impact these depictions can have on people’s perceptions of death, particularly when so few have first-hand exposure to its unadorned reality. 

They dissect how classic shows like CSI and Grey’s Anatomy amplify the drama, from gripping emergency room scenes to intriguing portrayals of funeral directors in forensic television. The discussion then seamlessly transitions to the big screen, with the mention of iconic titles such as “My Girl,” “The Shining,” and “Harold and Maude.” They also explore the depth of research in modern TV productions, unveiling how these programs meticulously detail the workings of real-life processes.

This episode offers a thought-provoking analysis of the evolving media landscape’s portrayal of death, and an eye-opening exploration for those curious about how shows and films shape our understanding of mortality.


  1. From the dualities of gruesome and serene portrayals to the dramatization in TV shows, it’s evident that media plays a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of these subjects. Understanding this influence is crucial for individuals seeking a more nuanced and realistic perspective on death.

In this episode:

[1:55] Pete kicks off the episode by introducing the month’s topic–how death, dying, and funerals are portrayed in the media. Horror movie junkie, Amber, talks about the dual perspectives of death in shows and movies: the gruesome and the serene.

[4:40] Pete and Amber delve into the accuracy of the violent and horror portrayals of death. Amber reiterates how these depictions can be impactful in shaping people’s perception of death, especially with how very few are exposed to its realities.

[6:49] The duo talk about all-time favorite TV shows such as CSI and Grey’s Anatomy. They explore the dramatized portrayal of most scenes in these shows, from the intense emergency room moments to how funeral directors are depicted in forensic TV.

[10:28] From My Girl, to The Shining, Harold and Maude, and more–Pete and Amber transition to movies and compare their impact versus TV shows that are built for weekly episodes and cliffhangers.

[15:53] Amber and Pete talk about modern day TV productions and the depth of their research on how the processes actually work.They also address the impact of hyper transparency in these shows on how families perceive critical issues such as terminal diagnosis and surgeries.


  1. O’Connell Funeral Homes
  2. Amber Miller
  3. Read Show Transcript


  1. “The realities of deaths are behind closed doors…So, if our only experience with death is what we see on the media, then we assume that’s what it is in natural life. And when we actually have a natural experience with death in our real life, we have this disconnect–we expect one thing, we see another thing and it turns into something altogether different.” – Amber Miller

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