Why This Writer Quit Watching “The Walking Dead”

unknown*This post contains spoilers*
I have been a long-time fan of the comic books and of the series, but my attention began to wane for AMC’s The Walking Dead around November of last year when the producers faked Glen’s death.

At the start of season 6, the series had seen its lowest ratings drop since the series began.  It is believed also that because of this fact the producers began to scramble to do something to make the ratings go up again…namely “killing off” Glen (psyche!).  The problem with this is that instead of telling a good story, writers are being forced to cow to the ratings and the fright that the network’s money maker might tank.

Well, it might tank for sure after Sunday night’s episode “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”.

Already there is fan outrage, but not really because of the characters who went to the chopping  block…or the batting range.  The outrage comes from the audience being manipulated by a show that is becoming increasingly violent for violence sake.  The biggest beef I have with it is that the writing has taken a back seat to escalation of violence.

This happened to Game of Thrones after the “red wedding” scene, and it has now happened to The Walking Dead.  What originally drew me to TWD was its sense of humanity.  Even though things are bad for our heroes, our heroes somehow manage to find the silver lining in the difficult world in which they live.

My exit has a two-fold reason:

  1. There Is No Bright Spot – Even if you are writing a story that is a tragedy, there always should be some ray of hope in the mix, no matter how small.  Macbeth had MacDuff.  Breaking Bad had Jessie.  But now I am feeling like there are not any more redeemable people on the show.  More to the point, there is not any sense of hope at all.
  2. Writers Shouldn’t Care About Ratings – Sure, it’s what butters the bread of the networks, but to use character death as a gimmick to get people to watch a show and then show that character being brutalized for five grueling minutes (Glen) and show him stare at his wife with a detached eye before saying “I’ll find you” is pretty sick.  It reminds me of why I hate the “Saw” movies so much.  Gruesome violence for the sake of violence is completely pointless.

For more on the subject, and for a detailed analysis of other reasons I’ll be doing something else on Sunday nights, check out this article from The Verge.

Besides.  I have better things to do with my time, like write a novel or something.  I don’t want to subject myself to more misery when there is enough to go around in our world right now.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

8 thoughts on “Why This Writer Quit Watching “The Walking Dead”

  1. I think I have to disagree with you here. I know some people have stopped watching TWD after that season opener, and I understand their reasoning. For some people it was too much. I have a different view.

    The intention of the writers in that episode was twofold:

    1. they had to break Rick Grimes down, strip him down to his soul
    2. they had to do the same to the viewers

    In my opinion, they succeeded in both. What we have to keep in mind is the viewpoint that Negan’s coming from. Rick’s group killed a LOT of Negan’s men, not just one here or one there. Our group is lucky they only lost two that night.

    When you stop and think about it, the only reason we care about Rick’s group is because we’ve been with them from the beginning. It enables us to overlook some of the less savory things they’ve done.

    There have been other especially brutal scenes on the show–Lori’s belly being cut open to bring Judith into the world is one that sticks in my head–not to mention the various and sundry brutal ways they have disposed of both the walking dead and the living through the years. What made this episode especially brutal was the fact that we liked Glenn and Abraham, these were humans having their heads bashed in, not walkers, not “bad guys.” But to Negan’s group, they were “bad guys.”

    “What originally drew me to TWD was its sense of humanity.” Humans are a brutal species. That’s what I saw in that episode. Maybe the reason it upset so many people is because it forces us to look into a mirror and see what we would potentially do to each other if we had nothing left to lose and the world’s survival depended on being the biggest, the baddest, and the strongest.

    I anticipated all along that when the zombie threat started to subside, the real threat–their fellow human beings–would take their place, and we’d learn that living humans are way more dangerous than the dead.

  2. I don’t watch The Walking Dead but I share the same sentiments, Roger, because most shows these days show violence for violence sakes and sex just for the sake of showing sex . . . . just smoke and mirrors and all show . . . . and no substance. And in the long run, the writing (the script) suffers — it’s nothing but shallow. I don’t watch much TV these days due to that very reason. Most TV shows and movies in the theater dwell on unnecessary, long, dragged out action sequences just to show off their precious CGI and updated technology and displaying sexual scenes that are completely unnecessary and makes ask “why in the world did they feel the need to show this? Can we just leave things to the imagination?” I just don’t see the point of all this gore and violence on the screen, to the point that it becomes excruciating for the viewer to see. I wish some things can be left to the imagination and not fully show it to the viewer as if they don’t have a brain. Watch the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho . . . .and you see no gore and you don’t see the character getting stabbed numerous times like you would see in today’s films. Watch the end of North by Northwest by Hitchcock and you’ll find the man and woman on the train and as they kiss, in the next scene you find the train going through the tunnel . . . . and you know what happened next, but they didn’t show it. There was no need to! Leave it to the imagination! What I want to see is a TV show that dwells on characters and plot and that can only be displayed through good quality writing — scriptwriters that care about the STORY and not just the ratings. They work on what is good for the sake of the story and not trying to show gory, violent, sexual scenes just for shock value.

    People pay their hard earned money on books and if a book was written just for the sake of sales and not for the story alone, it would leave the readers unsatisfied and upset for spending their money on such a travesty. Why is this so different for the television medium? If a series starts to play crummy gimmicks on their audience just to get ratings, it leaves the audience unsatisfied, feeling as if they wasted their time, and they’re about ready to kiss the series goodbye.

    Scriptwriters, please focus on the STORY and leave the ratings in the hands of the audience and stop playing with the audience moving them here and there like a chess piece. Writing is KING and should be front and center, whether it be in the television medium or the book medium. Leave the results in the hands of the consumer but rather focus on the craft.

  3. Hi Roger

    A fine point you make with masterful reasoning. Agree re cow-towing to the market – never a good idea. (I left a comment as such on your blog.)

    You may be interested to know I’m going back to writing and illustrating children’s books permanently. My natural home. No more “Internet Marketing”!

    I’ll be starting a personal blog under my own name to underscore this focus. Restarting the writer’s journey shall we say. Hopefully when under way I’ll be able to repost some of your excellent writings.

    Kind regards

    Jonathan Gunson

    On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 5:01 AM, Writing Is Hard Work wrote:

    > rogerdcolby posted: “*This post contains spoilers* I have been a long-time > fan of the comic books and of the series, but my attention began to wane > for AMC’s The Walking Dead around November of last year when the producers > faked Glen’s death. At the start of season 6, the se” >

  4. Well said and poignant, but I respectfully disagree my friend that the show is becoming more violent for the sake of violence. Personally, I feel that the inherent, ever-present danger of the world these characters live in naturally subjects them to a rising threat of more violence each day they survive. This is more a study in humanity, or at times a lack-there-of, in a return to the days of “Only the strong survive.” Prior to this season we’ve seen beloved characters beheaded to invoke war, and another literally ripped to pieces before us to name a few and each time there was a reason for it. It is my belief that so long as the violence serves a purpose to the story then it can become necessary. Indeed, the bait and switch with Abraham was on purpose to make us relax. Perhaps Glen’s death went too long and could’ve been shortened and still have the desired effect. However it did serve to show the characters, and the viewers alike, exactly who is now in charge.
    That said, I can certainly see how this episode has become a catalyst for some who’ve felt the show, particularly the storytelling, has been slipping of late.
    Every time they seem to start showing some character building again, they immediately kill them off (I’m thinking of Dr. Denise prior to the arrow in her eye). I couldn’t stand the way the Alexandria group was getting more and more full of themselves, especially Rick. Perhaps that is exactly what they wanted me to feel prior to this episode so I now come back into the fold?
    I don’t know but I hold out hope that this serves as a “reboot” almost to get the characters, and especially the storytelling, back in line. Just maybe, living under this new dictator, they’ll find their humanity again. The show hasn’t lost me yet, but I can understand why it has others. Hey, how about Gotham, eh?

      1. Can’t argue there. The end of last season was so strange and I’ve only made time to watch episode 1 of this season so far. Really my only “must-see-tv” that I make time for anymore is Bassmasters. LOL

      2. Though it’s a cartoon I prefer “Batman The Animated Series” from the early 90’s . . . . the writing is way better!

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