As the old saying goes, money talks. They call it show BUSINESS, after all, and for a television series ratings equals money. After the over-the-top season seven premiere of the show, wherein two prominent characters were brutally murdered onscreen, even some hardcore fans of the pop culture phenomenon had had enough and stopped tuning in. The loss of viewers hit the show as hard as Negan’s baseball bat, Lucille, hits its victims. Ratings were down considerably for following episodes.
Series executive producer Gale Anne Hurd went on record saying: “This is not a show that is torture porn” and that the showrunners wanted to make certain “we don’t cross that line.” Actually, the show DID become torture porn, and the audience balked. They DID cross that line, and it cost them. What she should have said was that they want to be careful not to cross it AGAIN. They’ve stepped back over it, cutting down on the violence and gore. Will those lost viewers return? Or have they left the series for good? Will the season seven premiere serve as the nadir of the entire run? Will, in the decades to come, the expression “jump the shark,” be replaced by “break out the Lucille”? Or maybe “pulling a Negan”?