For anyone completely turned off by the supposedly excruciating violence in the Season 7 premiere of ‘The Walking Dead,’ apparently you no longer need to worry about seeing that kind of violence on the show any longer. The creative forces behind the show are very aware of the outrage many people had while viewing the deaths of certain characters and have made moves to ensure that kind of extreme violence does not occur again on the vaunted show.
During a recent NATPE conference, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd confirmed that audience reactions to the killings in the Season 7 premiere did push some changes in terms of the violence of the show:
“We were able to look at the feedback on the level of violence. We did tone it down for episodes we were still filming for later on in the season…This is not a show that is torture porn…we don’t cross that line.”
According to AMC Networks president-CEO Josh Sapan during the same conference:
“When something matters a lot and it has a universality, then you’re bothered by it and you care about it.”
To be clear, it is not only the voices crying out in objection that forced this change, most likely it was the ratings drop in Season 7 that truly precipitated the alterations, as AMC is struggling to figure out how they lost around 7 million viewers, as the season premiere had around 17 million people watching it, dropping to around 12 million a week later, and finally balancing out around 10 million viewers for the rest of the first half of the season.
Don’t get me wrong, for modern television, especially for a show on cable, 10 million viewers is still pretty good, but the network and the producers had to have been scratching their heads wondering what happened to almost half of their audience, and while I do think a lot of people were turned off by the violence, I think there’s more to it than just that. Extreme violence has always been a staple of ‘The Walking Dead’ and it did not turn away viewers before.
I think the issue now is the show is on its 7th season, and people might just be getting a little tired of it, and when you throw in hard to watch violence, some folks might just decide it is not worth watching anymore. It does not help that the violence in question killed off 2 beloved characters, one of which we had been following since Season 1, and that might have turned off some viewers as well. If anything the main reason people are still tuning in at this point is because of the characters they love, and it may not have been the smartest decision to kill off TWO beloved characters to start the season. Things are bleak enough in real life, I’m not sure anyone is really excited to watch a show about the end of the world where a horrible dictator just took over. For me, I tend to watch TV to escape the realities of modern life, not see a dark reflection of it.
Do you have any theories or ideas of why ratings for ‘The Walking Dead’ could be going down? Do you think people are sick of the violence? Giving up on their characters? Or just tired of the show in general after 7 seasons? Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.