AMC on Monday announced it officially greenlit its third Walking Dead series, a female-led spinoff centered around two young protagonists who belong to the first generation of survivors raised after the zombie outbreak. The unnamed spinoff — co-created by longtime Walking Dead writer-producer Matt Negrete, a veteran of the flagship series since Season Four, and Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple — comes as Sarah Barnett, president of AMC's Entertainment Networks, aims to continue to highlight strong female characters in her position as overseer of AMC, BBC America, IFC, and SundanceTV.
"I think AMC has been incredibly good, for very many years, at telling complex stories about masculinity," the recently promoted Barnett told Vulture when asked what she hopes to bring to the networks beyond Sandra Oh-led thriller Killing Eve. "A lot of the shows have very strong female characters, [but] there are a lot more stories to be told in our world about complicated women. We've just begun to scratch the surface. I continue to be very interested in that."
In the interview, published just days before the coming spinoff transitioned from active development to an official greenlight, Barnett praised Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang, who was elevated to that position and delivered the best-reviewed season in series history.
"The other thing that I'm really excited about is the opportunity around the Walking Dead universe and a potential third show, and the extraordinary advantage I have walking into this role with [what's] still the biggest show on cable by some measure," Barnett said. "Angela Kang has done a sterling job."
The Walking Dead in Season Nine shifted towards a larger female-driven focus in part from the exit of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Kang's promotion to showrunner, bringing with it upped roles for veteran female characters Carol (Melissa McBride), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Later introduced was its new leading villain, terrifying Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton).
"I'm proud to be a part of a show that, even the comics that the show is based on, had the story values to put forth incredibly strong, powerful female characters. Michonne is from the comic book, and it can't get stronger than her," former Walking Dead showrunner Gimple previously told Us.
As promised in the October interview, the recently wrapped season delivered "incredibly strong female characters."
"And to have anything short of that is just to tell a frickin' lame story, and that's been true long before this political moment," Gimple said. "When you don't have strong female characters in your stories, you are telling stupid stories."
The untitled second Walking Dead spinoff is expected to reach the network in 2020. Fear the Walking Dead next returns to AMC with its fifth season June 2, ahead of the October premiere of The Walking Dead Season Ten, which will feature a significant story for exiting Michonne star Gurira.
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