AMC’s The Walking Dead has long been a fan and critical darling. Although most shows tend to peter out over time so far as a rabid fan base goes, very few shows go so far in the other direction that everybody completely turns on them. This isn’t to say that there aren’t still loyal Walking Dead fans or that there shouldn’t be, but after the most recent episode, the tides have turned. AMC built up the suspense over who would live and die in the upcoming episode throughout the hiatus, but fans and critics aren’t pleased, and the response has been very negative.
Slate‘s review of the episode summed up the complaints nicely: “The Walking Dead has become the dramatic equivalent of clickbait.”
In recent years, there’s been a push toward more “cable,” gritty television. But the (justified) criticism of The Walking Dead highlights the problem with this sort of programming: this sort of cynical, violence-centric, never-know-who-lives-or-dies storytelling privileges base shock value over plot and character. The Verge elaborated on this (increasingly common) problem in cable television in their review.
With sky-high budgets, top-notch talent, and some of the most coveted writers and directors in the biz, AMC is more than equipped to do better. We hope they (and other cable networks, what up HBO) take this criticism to heart and actually bother to tell a story going forward.