Image by COSMOPOLITAN
Article by Naoki Nomura
From its gnarly graphics to its well thought out storyline and character development, the fictional zombie apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead has taken the world by storm. Since its first aired episode back in 2010, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been Sunday night’s most viewed and favorite TV show, drawing over 17.3 million viewers a night at its height as well as winning multiple Emmy Awards (Schwindt). In addition to their on screen success, certain aspects of The Walking Dead has been used by the United States Strategic Command as a template for how to “plan for real-life, large-scale operations, emergencies and catastrophes aka (CONOP 8888).” (CNN) Today, however, The Walking Dead is facing the biggest threat they have had in the show’s seven year history, and it is coming from their audience.
Following a cliffhanger and a six months wait, Season 7’s premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead aired on October 2016 drawing an audience of a little over 17 million. The season premiere titled, The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be gave the viewers a much anticipated gory/bloody scene, where Negan (a bat wielding villain) bashes Glenn (a fan favorite character who has been in the series since the first season) to death with his baseball bat named “Lucile.” Shocked fans of The Walking Dead flooded social media with complaints and critiques, but the most significant backlash AMC received came when the second episode titled The Well aired the following Sunday. Compared to the season premiere’s 17 million viewers, The Well’s total number of viewers dipped below the 10 million mark, and the next few episodes that followed saw a further decrease in viewers as well (Tassi).
While the producers and crew of The Walking Dead frantically look for solutions, critics of the show claim that many fans are simply tired of AMC and the producers jerking them around. Following the long agonizing wait, fans were rewarded by watching their beloved character beaten to death and saw the rise of another psychopathic villain. A long time critic of the show Jeff Stone tweeted after the episode, “It was miserable, and tedious, and made me feel bad. Not in an emotionally compelling way, just in a ‘I could be watching something of value’ way” (Stone). Many have simply gotten tired of the seasonal loop of (the protagonist) Rick’s group encountering a new villain that threatens them, and angers Rick by killing an important character. The scenario usually concludes with Rick retaliating by killing the villain.
Although a repetitive plot line may seem like the prime reason for the declining popularity of The Walking Dead, another possible reason has emerged; Netflix, the worldwide movie and TV show streaming service has launched their own set of original, high-rating TV series such as Stranger Things and Narcos. These shows have surged to the top of the ratings, surpassing the likes of long-time successful series such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Naturally, The Walking Dead which streams and gathers many of their viewers through Netflix may be suffering from this new streaming service Netflix has begun to offer.
Though the The Walking Dead still manages to gathers a couple million viewers a night, the fire that once made it a global phenomenon seems to have burned out, and the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead may now be closer to doomsday than ever before.
CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.
Schwindt, Oriana. “‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7 Ratings Slide: Just How Bad Is It?” Variety.N.p., 13 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
Stone, Jeff. “‘The Walking Dead’ Review: Season 7 Premiere Is the Show At Its Worst.”IndieWire. N.p., 24 Oct. 2016. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
Tassi, Paul. “Five Reasons Why The Walking Dead’s Ratings Are Crashing To Season 3 Levels.” Forbes. Magazine, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.