The Season 7 premier of The Walking Dead established many unusual aspects about the audience. There is no denying the emotional impact or the harrowing intensity, but many viewers have vowed to stop watching. You can find such articles here, here, here, and here.
The backlash begs the question as to what, exactly, the audience has been watching for the past 7 seasons. Likewise, what, precisely, does an audience expect from a zombie apocalypse series? Most of us think the genre is pretty straightforward. For this show, particularly, because it was a graphic novel first. It appears that people currently suffer from an intense phobia of baseball bats, because the deaths of beloved characters have happened every season.
So, just to recap and ensure there is no confusion. Here’s a brief run-down to make sure everyone is watching the same thing. The very first episode had the main character, Rick, shooting what appeared to be a zombified five- or six-year-old girl. In the first season, the ravenous hoard devoured a teenager (Amy), an abusive husband (Ed), and a host of other minor characters. We later find that Jim was bitten, and the group leaves him to die by the road. Still not dark enough to warrant a response. The CDC is a bust and Jacqui commits suicide alongside Jenner, the last surviving scientist at the CDC.
Nope, not dark at all. Uh-huh.
So, Season 2, Sophia goes missing and, low and behold, a then 8-year-old Carl is also shot. The group finds Hershel Greene’s farm, which happens to be life-saving for Carl. One of the main characters, Shane, sacrifices one of the Greene family members to save Carl. The group finds a straggler named Randall, who was left for dead, and take him home to help him recover. The situation spirals into a frenzy of violence when the group actually tortures Randall. A walker tears Dale’s his entrails from his body (still no outrage). Shane ends up releasing Randall and convincing him to take him back to his group. He kills Randall while they’re in the woods.
Shane goes ballistic and shoots up the farm, opening the barn, and releasing the walkers inside. Sophia, the girl whose been missing all season, steps out of the barn. She’s one of them. Rick shoots her (still no outrage). Shane’s stirring rendition of Tombstone attracts the same horde the group encountered on the freeway. They lose most of the Greene family and the group themselves splinter off during the flight.
The group reunites and spends months moving from place to place. They find a prison and clear the dead out. A cluster of prisoners remain inside, and terror ensues. Rick plants a machete in one prisoner’s head, they have to hack Hershel’s leg off when he’s bitten, and Lori dies during a brutal C-section. The Governor is introduced and so begins another battle. Rick reunites with Morgan, who hasn’t been seen since the first episode, and finds depression has driven him insane.
Maggie and Glen are taken prisoner, tortured, and Merle returns to the series. Michonne runs a sword through the head of another child, this time it’s the Governor’s zombie daughter. War follows. The Governor turns his weapons on his community after a failed attempt to raid the prison. He slaughters his own people.
Torture, dismemberment, child killing, insanity, they’re just not a problem. They weren’t done with a baseball bat. That’s a big difference.
It is uncertain as to how the brutality exhibited in the first episode of Season 7 was any worse than before. Don’t forget, in Season 4, Carl was almost raped. Rick killed another man by biting his throat. There was also a recurring enemy group of cannibals for a time. T-Dog was devoured at the same time Lori died. The Governor kills Merle and leaves him to turn. The Governor eviscerated Milton and left him to kill Andrea. Andrea commits suicide. The list can go on, continually.
It is unclear as to what has brought about such issue, but there remains a question as to what protesters have been watching for six years. Apparently, it wasn’t The Walking Dead.