2010 began AMC’s years-long effort to break one cable TV record after another. It can certainly be said that THE WALKING DEAD is the most brutal show on cable television (maybe even on TV in general) – one reason I gave up on the show after two and a half season, because I couldn’t stand the bleakness of it any longer (I even watched the death scenes of the season seven premiere and was disgusted by how much the show sells itself through its violence). But it can definitely be said that THE WALKING DEAD changed the ratings game on basic cable, as the show became a bigger hit with each season. The last time a show climbed like that in the ratings charts over multiple seasons was THE X-FILES, and that was over four seasons.
THE WALKING DEAD, when Frank Darabont was still showrunner and everything was happy-go-lucky behind the cameras (or so would AMC made you believe), premiered appropriately on Halloween in 2010, and immediately became AMC’s highest-rates series premiere – which doesn’t mean a lot, because AMC was still new to the game, having developed not more than five shows I can actually name from memory (THE LOT, THE PRISONER, MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, and RUBICON). Still, the ratings were huge back then, but compared to the later ratings of the show, they are kind of small. Still, the AMC executives were most likely imagining taking a shower in Dollar bills, or otherwise they wouldn’t have been so harsh about cutting the production cost for the show (one of the reason Darabont was fired?). It speaks for the show’s quality, and the interest in bleak horror, when the season finale delivered the highest numbers of the season, no matter how short the season was at the end. And from here on, a long success story would follow, and some people might ask how long it will take for THE WALKING DEAD to end. 17, 18 seasons? Will it be the longest-running scripted cable series in history? (For that to happen, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA needs to start thinking about an endgame)