Sorry, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, but the number one show on television among adults 18 to 49 no longer comes from your neck of the woods. AMC, the little cable network that could, is the one that comes out on top this time thanks to herds and herds of bloodthirsty zombies. Excluding sports, The Walking Dead is officially the number one show on television this fall.
In the coveted 18-49 demo, The Walking Dead's Season 3 premiere raked in a solid 7.3 million viewers, and the terror train has continued to rake in the viewers, holding steady in its second week. But how did this happen? When it comes to ratings, cable series have always played the ugly stepsiblings to the networks. However, as cable's original programming continues to become diverse, robust, and daring, the heavy hitters continue to nab larger audiences.
Of course, The Walking Dead isn’t the only wildly successful cable show. What about this formidable televisual presence allowed it to pull ahead of series like Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story? We’ve got a few ideas.
1. Zombies, duh.
Thanks to the genius of gore expert Greg Nicotero and the legendary “Zombie School” training for all stagger-on extras, the flesh-eating pests (and their gruesome ends) are some of the best in the business. The Walking Dead’s zombies even best some of the more realistic (or as realistic as a brain-craving zombie can be, anyway) walkers on the big screen.
While the bloody, gory guts are simply superb, the core of the series comes from its story. Comic Book creator Robert Kirkman does double duty, continuing his work on the comic series and contributing his expertise to the TV series as well, and along with a talented team of writers, he’s created a storyline that shocks and thrills the audience and, most importantly, causes viewers to contemplate their own decisions in the characters’ harrowing situations. It’s not just about whacking zombies. The Walking Dead actually makes you think.
3. Daryl Effing Dixon
Thank God creator Frank Darabont had the audacity to add in a main character that was seen nowhere in the comic books, because he quickly became one of the best and most beloved characters on the show. Between Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) incredible survival skills (see: complete and total badassery), his bold choice to continue riding his vintage chopper through the zombie wasteland instead of riding in the safety of a car, and his surprisingly mushy heart beneath all that leather and chutzpah, Daryl is arguably the best character on the show.
4. Freedom, baby.
Do you think this show could get away with the disgusting, heart-wrenching, and violent things it does on the Big Four? The answer you’re looking for is “no.” The amount of blood and festering zombie guts on The Walking Dead would make your average network viewer faint, and any script from the series’ past episodes would surely send a network exec into a tailspin. Only a cable channel could offer up something this bold.
5. The Most Obsessive, Loyal, Lovably Crazy Fans in the Biz
When The Walking Dead lurched onto television, it already had a rabid fanbase built in: the folks who rush to the bookstore every time a new issue of Kirkman’s Walking Dead comic hits stands. But as newbies added to the growing herd, the AMC series built up an army of viewers that no cable series can seem to match. These people are serious about this show. Just ask the fan who pulled Andrew Lincoln offstage at New York Comic Con so he could look at her tattoo… of his face. These fans aren’t going anywhere – in fact, if anything, their infectious obsession is growing.
The number one show on television airs Sunday nights at 9 PM ET on AMC.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC]
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