Should The Walking Dead Require A New TV Rating? One Group Thinks So

Spoiler alert for anyone who still hasn't had their tummy turned by The Walking Dead's Season 7 premiere.

Sunday night brought the highly anticipated first entry in The Walking Dead's seventh season, and it was one for the ages, with Negan swinging Lucille down on two heads instead of one. This doubling up on the murders, as well as the startling amount of times Lucille connected, had fans reacting wildly. Just as predictably, the episode had TV watchdogs foaming at the mouth, and the Parent Television Council president Tim Winter seems to think the episode went beyond what current TV ratings can advise against.

When you look at definition of MA and what content of the show is, it's unquestionable they chose what best represented the content. This certainly raises question of if there should be an even more severe rating than TV-MA.

The PTC's initial statement on The Walking Dead's premiere called it "one of the most graphically violent shows" that TV has ever delivered, even when compared to premium cable fare, and it's presumed that Game of Thrones was implied here. And it was in a later interview with THR that Tim Winter came out with his big claim that The Walking Dead's decision to stick with the heavy graphic violence is a potential impetus to create a TV rating that extends past the TV-MA tag placed on shows of this nature.

rick walking dead season 7 premiere

On the one hand, I suppose it's understandable why the PTC is looking at The Walking Dead with a tighter lens than most shows, since it is definitely at the apex of what cable can get away with, visuals-wise. While Negan beating Abraham and Glenn's skulls to smithereens possibly wasn't as gory or covered with buckets of blood as other deaths have been in the past, particularly Noah's, there was human sadism on display in Negan's actions. And when you combined the relatively brief shots of the wounds with the sound effects heard as Negan kept slamming the bat down over and over, it added up to something that probably wouldn't be a welcome sight to most children. Not to mention the flashes to other characters getting smacked.

On the other hand, giving The Walking Dead another combination of letters to signify its impact wouldn't necessarily do any good at hindering anyone watching it. And one has to consider all of this also knowing that Tim Winter gave his leaden criticisms, such as the one below, despite admitting he'd only seen video clips and not the entire episode.

Everything between the opening credits and the closing credits was graphic and explicit. You don't need to show it to show it. Back in the day, you'd see violence about to be committed and then see you'd some after-effects of someone recovering or some other aspects rather than skulls crushed in. Now it seems like they can't tell a story without adding the severity of the graphic violence, and it seems to me like a crutch.

EVERYTHING between both sets of credits, guys; even that disgusting dinner scene where everyone was smiling all explicitly. It will be interesting to see if the rest of Negan's reign will incite the same kinds of reactions from the PTC and other groups. And what about when the tiger Shiva enters the mix? Will watching a big feline rip someone's throat out be less of a cause for concern?

The Walking Dead will bring out its inner tiger on viewers Sunday nights on AMC. To see when other TV kingdoms will return or debut soon, check out our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.