In the months leading up to the Walking Dead Season 7 premiere, fans knew that they would finally learn who the nefarious Negan killed in the huge cliffhanger at the end of the Season 6 finale. Theories spread all throughout the Internet, before we learned that Negan killed not one but two beloved members of Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) Alexandria community: Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz). Apparently this episode was so violent that it lead several fans to actually lodge complaints with the Federal Commuications Comission (FCC).
The Daily Dot reports that more than a dozen people filed complaints with the FCC following the season premiere episode, with the website obtaining these complaints via a Freedom of Information Act request. The FCC doesn't regulated AMC and other basic cable networks, but most networks regularly police themselves, with most basic cable shows rarely showing nudity or using "the F word" in their broadcasts. Some fans complained about "F-bombs" dropped by Lauren Cohan and Chris Hardwick on the after-show Talking Dead, while others complained about technical issues such as the volume level of certain commercials. The site reveals that most of the complaints, though, were focused on the intense violence showed in the premiere, with viewers in Eagan, Minnesota and Hardy, Virginia comparing the scenes where Negan kills Glenn and Abraham to ISIS beheading videos. Here's an excerpt from one complaint from a viewer in Stratford, Connecticut, who claimed the viewer and his or her 12-year-old daughter were left "traumatized" by the episode.
"The Walking Dead season 7 premiere has left my daughter and I psychologically traumatized! We are not the overly protective parents although we do monitor what our 12 year old watches, as should all parents. This show she watches only with us because it contains gore. But last night's premiere went far beyond what I ever thought was legal to show on tv. I did have our 12 year old turn away after a favorite character's head was bashed in and his eye protruding from his skull was shown, but it was too late and she was hysterically crying. As much as I tried to be strong, I myself couldn't stop crying. The intensity of a beloved character babbling nonsense due to the severe head trauma and with his eye out of his head, and still the camera on him while he's sadistically tortured was by far the most traumatizing thing I have ever seen in my 44 years of living."
Another viewer in Wheeler, Illinois called the episode "beyond brutal, beyond sick and beyond evil" while another chided the show for transforming from "killing soulless animated corpses into a sadistic, emotional torture by showing people killing other people in the most brutal and sadistic ways." These viewers weren't the only ones to complain, with the Parents Television Council chiding the series for its brutal scenes. Here's the statement released by the PTC after the Walking Dead premiere.
"Last night's season premiere of The Walking Dead was one of the most graphically violent shows we've ever seen on television, comparable to the most violent of programs found on premium cable networks. It's not enough to 'change the channel,' as some people like to advocate, because cable subscribers - regardless of whether they want AMC or watch its programming - are still forced to subsidize violent content. This brutally explicit show is a powerful demonstration of why families should have greater control over the TV networks they purchase from their cable and satellite providers."
The controversy didn't affect the show's ratings at all, with over 17 million tuning into the premiere episode, with a whopping 8.4 ratings and 10.7 million viewers in the all-important 18-49 demographic. The episode was easily the highest-rated program among broadcast and cable shows alike. The 17 million viewers for the The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere is up 16% from the 14.6 million viewers who tuned in for the Season 6 premiere last year. It was also up 20% in total viewers and 22% in the 18-49 demo from last year's Season 6 finale, but it fell just short of the show's all-time record of 17.3 million viewers, 11 million in 18-49 and 8.7 rating, set by the Season 5 premiere. Take a look at all of the complaints filed to the FCC after The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere.