The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere was this Sunday. At the end of last season, we saw a scene where all of our heroes were on their knees in a semi-circle around a madman with a baseball bat wrapped with barbed wire. Everyone who is a fan of the show knew that one of our beloved characters was about to meet their end. Anticipation/dread has been building over the summer. Facebook feeds last week were filled with posts expressing alternating fear and anticipation for what was to come. Some people had watch parties. Others wanted to be alone not being able to predict their emotional state.
If you haven’t watched the premiere by now (two days later), I’m sure it’s already been spoiled for you. If you’re not even a TWD fan, you’ve probably heard way more than you wanted to hear. Two of our heroes were bludgeoned to death by this madman. Their heads were bashed until there was nothing left but a bloody mash. And we all watched.
The show is so brutal, there is a group therapy session that airs after the show. The show is an hour, the after show was 90 minutes. The cast members sometimes appear on the show, but it’s basically for fans to decompress after the horrors of the night. It’s a tradition that the cast members who have been killed in that episode show up so the fans can be reminded it was only the character that was killed. The person who played the character is still with us and doing fine.
There is a meme that caught my eye yesterday:
“I don’t watch The Walking Dead, but it sounds like some of you need some days off, a sedative, a shot or a hug.”
As I was watching Negan bash someone’s head in several things went through my mind. I rarely get so caught up in a television show or a movie that I forget the character is just a character. When things get particularly brutal is when I’ll remind myself and maybe even go to a place where I think of how they shot the scene. Other people turn their eyes and/or cover their ears. Some people will leave the room. Then, the question of “Why?” comes to me. Why do we put ourselves through this?There was genuine dread on Saturday and Sunday as people prepared themselves for the upcoming inevitable brutality. Why do people watch a show that they have to turn away from? No one makes anyone watch TWD.
I’ve seen one person on Facebook report enough is enough. But, most people are hanging in with the show. They mourn for the characters who are lost and they are plotting revenge on their murderer. They’ll stay tuned hoping the writers eventually make things right. The thing is people, it’s a show about the zombie apocalypse. Deep down, we all know things will never be right. It would be the end of the show.
People push back against the idea that we, as humans, would volunteer to come to this screwed up world full of pain and misery- virtually guaranteed for all of us at some point. Even crazier, they say, is the fact, we would plan anything like the misery some of us go through. “Why would we do that to ourselves?” I think there are good reasons why we would do that and I’ve addressed them before. As I watch people torturing themselves for “entertainment” watching a television show that routinely rips their hearts our week after week, I’m more confident in the fact that we have something in us that craves adventure, a little bit of fear, excitement, challenge. TWD walks that line exploring how much is too much. For a few people, they crossed the line in this past episode, but for most of their fan base, they’ll be back next week for more. In fact, they can’t wait.