A report surfaced last week about The Walking Dead premiere and how violence was dialed back by the producers after fan backlash. The show's EP Gale Anne Hurd was the one who initially made the comments at the NATPE conference, but it appears they were taken a bit out of context.
The Walking Dead is a huge show and has more than one producer. As a result, the two others Scott Gimple and Greg Nicotero spoke with Entertainment Weekly and cleared up some of the confusion. Gimple noted the following:
The violence in the premiere was pronounced for a reason. The awfulness of what happened to the characters was very specific to that episode and the beginning of this whole new story. I don’t think like that’s the base level of violence that necessarily should be on the show. It should be specific to a story and a purpose, and there was a purpose of traumatizing these characters to a point where maybe they would have been docile for the rest of their lives, which was Negan’s point. But I will say again, the violence in the premiere was for a specific narrative purpose and I would never say that that’s the baseline amount of violence that we would show on the show. If we’re ever going to see something that pronounced, there needs to be a specific narrative purpose for it.”
Nicotero pretty much echoed the same comments by saying:
“As brutal as that episode 1 was, it’s still part of our storytelling bible, which is what the world is about. I don’t think we would ever edit ourselves, and I think — even after looking at that episode 1 again — as tough as it was for people to watch, I don’t think we would have done it any differently. I don’t think we’ll ever pull ourselves back. There is definitely a difference between violence against walkers and human on human violence, but truthfully, we’re serving our story.”
After hearing these explanations, it makes it clearer what Herd had intended to say. The violence was not changed to appear less after the fan backlash of the premiere but had already been dialed back due to the story progression of the show itself. The mentality of the entire cast has changed in The Walking Dead, and they needed an extreme showing in order to pull that off. That violence in the premiere along with the anticipation after the end of season 6 led to that build up.
The Walking Dead is on AMC Sunday nights at 9 and will return with the completion of Season 7 on February 12th.