I have been a fan of AMC’s Walking Dead series since day one. I still remember catching the trailers for the premiere episode and convincing my then girlfriend/now wife to check it out with me. After experiencing that first episode, I knew we found our next big thing. And we were never disappointed. Season after season, my wife and I never missed an episode. Sure, there were ups and downs as all multi-season shows often experience, but with each passing season, after the dust settled, the Walking Dead was hands down a winner. That is, until last night’s season seven – episode one.
The first episode of season seven was definitely ambitious. It definitely moved the show into uncharted territory. It was definitely emotional. However, in accomplishing all of these things, the show’s creators and writers took us on a journey that is the antithesis of what made the show so successful. Rather than intelligently framing a conflict and creating ambiguity and tension, the show chose to focus on graphic, on screen gore that was simply violence for the sake of violence. There was nothing cerebral within the show, nothing that created the perfect mixture of dread and excitement. The only thing I was left feeling was disgust. This episode hit all the wrong notes and in the process turned me off as a fan. After this episode my wife has decided that she is done with the series. I don’t think I want any more either.
It’s easy to give up on a series once it’s ‘jumped the shark’. The hardest part about walking away from the Walking Dead is that it hasn’t run out of steam. There are still interesting plot lines to explore in the zombie apocalypse and the cast of characters that inhabit this world continue to capture my interest. However, when writers and producers no longer value the time and emotional investment that its loyal viewership devotes to the series and veers the narrative into territory that is completely atypical of the pre-established six year story telling pattern, the cache of trust between the fans and the show’s creators is broken.
The extreme violence and sadism that we were introduced to the viewers as season seven begins was hard for many to stomach and the backlash appears significant. The creative powers behind the show have attempted to explain and justify the show’s trajectory claiming the story arc demanded this type extreme graphic violence. However, after waiting patiently for the season to answer the cliff hanger from season six, the story telling and accompanying visuals were a complete turn off and destroyed the good will of the past six years. The sixty minutes that opened season seven make it hard for me to imagine sticking with the show any longer. I am surprised how emotionally hard it is to say goodbye to this show, but here goes… Walking Dead, thanks for the memories. We were really good together for a long time but I think we’ve grown apart. I’m sorry but we’re breaking up.