Many fans thought The Walking Dead went too far with the violence in Sunday’s premiere, now even the Parents Television Council has weighed in.

The Walking Dead has never been a show that shied away from violence and gore. After all, what would a show about a zombie apocalypse be without it? But the Season 7 premiere may have finally been too much.

Many fans have already expressed their own outrage on social media. Some have even said it would be the last episode they’ll ever watch. It’s true, the brutal deaths of Abraham and (especially) Glenn were by far the most gruesome events ever shown on The Walking Dead. But did it really cross the line?

Negan's bloody bat, Lucille, on The Walking DeadImage Credit: AMC

The PTC is Back with a Vengeance

Tim Winter, president of the conservative watchdog group The Parents Television Council thinks so. The group has long been opposed to The Walking Dead, but took special issue with the premiere.

“…The season premiere of The Walking Dead was one of the most graphically violent shows we’ve ever seen on television, comparable to the most violent of programs found on premium cable networks,” Winter told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not enough to ‘change the channel,’ as some people like to advocate, because cable subscribers — regardless of whether they want AMC or watch its programming — are still forced to subsidize violent content. This brutally explicit show is a powerful demonstration of why families should have greater control over the TV networks they purchase from their cable and satellite providers.”

Worse than TV-MA

Winter said the episode “set a new threshold for basic cable” for the degree and prevalence of violence from “from start to finish.” He also questioned whether the episode proved the need for a television rating higher than TV-MA.

“When you look at definition of MA and what content of the show is, it’s unquestionable they chose what best represented the content,” Winter said. “This certainly raises question of if there should be an even more severe rating than TV-MA.”

Violence in Lieu of Storytelling

Winter admitted that he didn’t actually watch the episode, but did see video clips of the violent scenes. “I understand violence is inherent to the storytelling here but the manner in which the depictions were made … it crossed the line,” Winter said. “With The Walking Dead, the creative team has resorted to the graphic violence as a crutch for what used to be better storytelling. When you can’t figure out what lines to write, you put something in easier, which is a graphic depiction. To me, it’s too much.”

“Everything between the opening credits and the closing credits was graphic and explicit,” said Winter. “You don’t need to show it to show it. Back in the day, you’d see violence about to be committed and then see you’d some after-effects. Someone recovering or some other aspects rather than skulls crushed in. Now it seems like they can’t tell a story without adding the severity of the graphic violence, and it seems to me like a crutch.”

This may come as a shock, but I partially agree with Winter here. I’ve said repeatedly these deaths would’ve been better served if they’d aired at the end of the Season 6 finale. By creating this ridiculous cliffhanger and devoting an entire episode to them, it did make the deaths gratuitous. For the function of the episode itself, they served no storytelling purpose. All of the story was in the prior season. All we were left with were two sickening deaths and lot of filler to make up a full episode.

Why Would Anyone Let their Children Watch The Walking Dead?

“Programs with violent content are proven to be harmful, especially to children; and most parents agree that having greater control over violent content coming into their homes is vital to protecting their family,” he said. “When a basic cable network like AMC edges or even surpasses the premium networks in terms of explicit content, consumers must be afforded more control over which networks they purchase and which networks they don’t.”

I myself saw viewers commenting on social media last night that they had to cover their children’s eyes. Others had to console crying children after Glenn’s death. Whether you agree with Mr. Winter or not, hopefully we can all agree that if you’re letting your kids watch this show at all, you need to seriously think about taking a parenting class.

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