Former Walking Dead star Chad Coleman, whose Tyreese was killed off midway through Season 5, admits he stopped watching the series after the gory deaths of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the Season 7 premiere.
"No, I haven't been [watching]," Coleman told CinemaBlend. "You know, after Glenn and Abraham ... Negan smashed their heads in that way. It was just kinda like, 'That's enough for me. Thanks guys. Take care. All the best.' But they're coming back around to more nuanced, less extreme characters."
The back-to-back executions of Abraham and Glenn by baseball bat proved so unsettling for some viewers the episode inspired numerous complaints filed to the FCC, where the Greg Nicotero-directed episode was criticized as "sadistic, emotional torture."
Other viewers reported the episode was "beyond brutal, beyond sick and beyond evil." Read one complaint, "Watching ISIS behead someone isn't as horrible as watching this tv show."
The zombie drama was similarly condemned by the Parents Television Council for being "brutally explicit" and "one of the most graphically violent shows we've ever seen on television." President Tim Winters, who said the episode "crossed the line," advocated an "even more severe" rating for the show, already rated TV-MA for its depictions of violence.
Asked about this level of intense reaction at Walker Stalker Con London last month, Yeun said his final episode acting as a turn-off for viewers was a sort-of compliment.
"I don't know, it's like one of those, 'Thank you, I guess?'" Yeun said. "It's a compliment, but also... you don't want the show to not be seen, you want the show to go on. So I don't know, I say like a confused thanks."
Former series star Andrew Lincoln is in the camp agreeing the episode's violence — part of a dramatic turning point for the survivors who find themselves subjected to the rule of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — went too far.
"We've been able to terrify people in film for 100 years without having to show an eyeball. When that happens, it diminishes what we're trying to make, which in my mind's eye is a family drama set in hell. It's not a sort of B-movie gorefest," Lincoln admitted to the New York Times in November.
Extreme violence is characteristic of The Walking Dead "from time to time, with the zombies and the action sequences," Lincoln conceded, "but when we're dealing with losing somebody — and a very brutal, human kind of death — I think it's just taste."
"My taste is, I think it would be more disturbing just keeping the camera on Maggie's face," Lincoln added of Glenn's then-pregnant wife, portrayed by Lauren Cohan. "And maybe that's why I want to direct, because I want to make what I've been filming in my head."
Lincoln makes his Walking Dead directorial debut in Season 10, due out this fall on AMC.
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