Will AMC Water Down Its Adaptation of the Hard R Comic Book ‘Preacher’?

Preacher adapted by AMCVertigo/DC Comics

They’ve taken on the drug trade, consumerism, zombies, and small-town pawn shops, and now AMC might be taking on Garth Ennis’ comic series Preacher, the story of a small town Texan preacher imbued with the power of both an angel and a demon. He takes a blood-splattered journey across the U.S. with his girlfriend and a vampire. Inspired greatly by Westerns and religious conspiracies, the complex plotting would make a dense, serialized show even darker than Breaking Bad

There’s a good chance this is just rumor, but it makes sense why AMC is interested. Think about it — it makes sense that they’d want to follow up their biggest commercial success, The Walking Dead, with another comic adaptation. And all the credit in the world has to be given for not shying away from a series with some radical themes rather than a superhero series or some type of cop show. It sounds like a very lofty AMC-of-old idea. But the more realistic AMC-of-new has to realize that despite their reputation as perhaps the most creatively successful basic cable network, they’re about to lose the second of their two prestige dramas (with Mad Men on its way out), and are left with only The Walking Dead as even a viable primetime show. Even The Killing is limping off to Netflix. And the less said about Low Winter Sun, the closer we are to forgetting about Low Winter Sun

But Preacher presents a ton of difficult source material that has fans wondering if there’s even a point to attempting the adaptation. Beyond the sex and the violence, both of which are in hard, hard R territory, the themes of the comic are pretty radical. Religion is treated very lightly and carefully in American popular culture, and this series treats the Christian god as a narcissist who cares little about anything but human worship. More than the incredible violence and even more than the sexual perversion (in the actual sense — sex dolls made out of raw meat and all), the religious material will likely be the thing that alienates the large Walking Dead audience. 

It’s near impossible to write the series without it, and definitely impossible to satisfy hardcore fans. It also happens to be the most unique thing about the story, as the other elements can devolve into immature salaciousness. But the critical view of American Christianity is enough to anchor an adult series. If AMC goes ahead with the series, that’s the one thing they should be sure to include if they want to make another all-time classic show.