An interesting angle on violence and kids watching The Walking Dead

Sophia - The Walking Dead, AMC
Sophia - The Walking Dead, AMC /

Violence on The Walking Dead and families watching has been a hot topic recently. Sometimes children surprise us. I have a story for you.

The season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead caused a lot of controversy with the level of violence and brutality in the episode. Reactions have been quite extreme to say the least.

We’ve had many fans who say the violence was no different from we’ve seen in other episodes and they don’t understand why some fans are complaining now. There were fans that said the violence was extreme and crossed a line.

People have been trying to figure out what the difference was. Was it because it was beloved characters that were lost? Was it because it was human on human violence and wasn’t walkers? Was it because families watch and children were crying?

Then fans start to say that children shouldn’t be watching in the first place. That people who don’t like violence should just quit watching. They point to the rating and all of the warnings about the mature content during every break.

I have an interesting story to share that most of us might never have considered. It might not have been the violence, but the sadness that people reacted to in the premiere.

I’m not saying it wasn’t violent. It was. And it was extra violent. It was. But it was also sad and brutal and dark.

I have a 9-year-old nephew who knows I love The Walking Dead. He plays with my action figures and knows the names of the characters. He sees my t-shirts and sees that people in public react when they see me wearing my t-shirts.

I took him to Wizard World a few summers ago. He took a picture with a Rick Grimes cosplayer. He wants to watch the show, but he knows he’s too young and it will be scary. So two summers ago he asked to watch a few episodes with me, but he said if anything got scary for him, we would just turn it off.

He wanted to watch something in the prison. He was fine for most of it. I explained the concept of zombies and how they are dead and we have to kill them; it’s better for them. The scene where he made me turn it off and said I scarred him for life was when Maggie cut into Lori’s stomach!

More from Undead Walking

Then this summer, he told me that he watched a few episodes on Netflix on his own and he saw Sophia get lost in the woods. He wanted to watch an episode with me. So I thought we’d watch Sophia coming out of the barn. He’s 9.

I explained how Hershel thought the walkers were sick and could be cured and that’s why he had them in the barn. I explained how when Shane shot the walker in the chest and it kept coming that Hershel was devastated because he realized that he had been wrong all this time and the walkers were dead, not sick.

When Sophia came out of the barn and Carol came rushing up to her, he asked me to turn it off. I asked him why he wanted me to turn it off. He said because it was too sad. Hershel’s face was too sad and it was too sad to see Sophia’s mother crying.

It wasn’t the violence. I asked if it bothered him that they shot all those walkers. He said no. It was just too sad seeing the old man’s face when they all came out and the mom’s face when Sophia came out.

Next: Top 20 moments of 2016

So maybe families watching had kids that were crying not just because the gore was too much for them, but the sadness of losing Abraham and Glenn was too much for them. Maybe the looks on Sasha’s and Maggie’s faces was too much for them? Children feel.

Maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about losing the violence on the show. Maybe we should want to make sure that the show continues to make us feel. Whatever they need to do to make that happen.

Update: I’d like to add that I would never let him watch this show with me on a weekly basis for many reasons. I only let him watch small segments when he was visiting me so he felt a connection to his aunt. Even he knows he is not old enough to watch it and accepts that.