Can “The Walking Dead” Restore its Ratings?

Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” has brought about mixed emotions from viewers. Many people have taken issue with how unfocused and confusing the storyline has been, with specific complaints regarding how scarcely two of the main characters, Rick and Negan, are seen. Many episodes have come and gone without either of them being featured at all, and viewers have been vocally dissatisfied with this. The show took a break from December 11 to February 12, as is customary. They have taken a break at the halfway point of the past few seasons to allow for filming, and also to allow the cast and crew to take a breather and regroup before delving into the second half of the season. When the show returned on February 12, much focus was put on the main group and it was well received. The episode garnered the third-highest viewer count of this season, with 12 million viewers.

Season 7 has been unique for a variety of reasons. Negan has been introduced to the show, straight from the pages of the comic book, and he has brought gore and destruction with him. Anyone who has watched the show knows about the controversial and hotly-debated ending to Season 6 and beginning of Season 7 scene that brutally recreated a famous scene from the comics. Many viewers have found it too much and rather distasteful, so there has been discussion of toning it back. Producer Gale Ann Hurd said: “We were able to look at the feedback on the level of violence. We did tone it down for episodes we were still filming for later on in the season.” This is equally debated, as some people have said that no parent should be allowing their children to watch this show anyways. And with a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode, and at least one more time when returning from commercials, it shouldn’t have to be altered to begin with. Conversely, parents have said that in today’s world kids have easier and harder-to-regulate access to television, so it is increasingly harder to protect them from televised violence. Only the rest of this season will answer just how much things are moderated.

Also, with complaints about lack of clarity and chronology, Season 7 has had some of the show’s worst ratings and viewership out of all 7 seasons. Presumably, the writers and crew took the 2-month break to discuss the necessary changes the show needs to be a continued success, as it is one of TV’s most widely-watched programs. Tune in Sundays at 9 to AMC to follow Rick and co. as they continue to “fight the dead, fear the living.”

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