The Hilarity of This Week’s “TV-14” Walking Dead

At this point, I’m used to pretty much every show I watch that isn’t animated or a comedy being rated TV-MA. It just comes with the territory whether it’s Dexter, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, etc.

So last night, seeing the little “TV-14” logo in front of The Walking Dead caught me off guard. Whether that’s been there for the duration of the series, I’m not sure, but what I find hilarious about it is that the hour that followed was one of the most singularly violent episodes of ANY TV SHOW I’VE EVER SEEN.

Sure, ratings don’t really matter in many ways, but this not only proves their relative uselessness, but showcases a divide between “what’s acceptable and what isn’t” more than anything else I can remember.

My old go-to example for illustrating the idiocy and backwardness of the ratings system was to point out that Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, actually featured a man being BEHEADED and was still PG-rated. In contrast, the incredibly touching musical Once was rated R because they said “fuck” a few times.


But on TV? It’s even more ridiculous. On most cable shows like Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad, they’re STILL not allowed to show a boob or say “fuck,” even at a TV-MA rating. But what did we see last night from a TV-14 Walking Dead?

What’s the rule here? Because the characters being mutilated, decapitated or HAVING THE SKIN OF THEIR FACE TORN OFF are zombies, it’s somehow okay? And I guess we’ll just forget about the (non-zombie) guy who had his legged hacked off in the closing minutes, a sequence I can’t even show on the site here lest a few of you lose your lunch.

I don’t care about this, as I’m 25 and ratings no longer mean a thing to me, but I can’t not stop and point out the absurdity. What would it have taken to make this blood-spattered episode TV-MA? Would someone have to say “shit”? Would they have to show us Glen’s ass? Would Dale have to take a bump of coke? It’s just hilarious to me that those things would likely warrant an upgrade in the rating, but 45 minutes of exceptionally gory and brutal violence means nothing.

This is more of an American thing, as I don’t think this happens across other countries as much (either they’re more lenient, or they just restrict EVERYTHING), but it’s been going on for years and reflects what seems to be fundamental truth about the controlling groups of our country. Brutal violence means little while even the slightest hint of sex or foul language is a supreme court case. Apply that to America’s views on war, sex education and obscenity as you see fit.

  • XenoIrish

    Once was rated R?!

    You are right, the rating system is controlled by a specific mindset and flawed because of it.

  • some guy

    yea the ratings are messed up. trey parker and matt stone have fun views on how ratings work

  • Why do you think SO MANY horror movies are rated PG-13..? ‘Scary’ doesn’t seem to be a variable in the rating system.

    Just because they’re stabbing and shooting.. you actually don’t see a whole lot of blood. That’s what I think they really base the rating on, not the act of violence, but how much blood is shown. (Same with horror movies… scary, but not blood.)

    I could see them fighting to keep a TV-14 rating though.. kids and teens are SO into Zombies these days.. It would work out in their best interest.

  • Tim W.

    Remember the Ghost blow job scene from the montage in Ghostbusters, that’s pretty messed up for a PG movie. I was young as hell when I saw that, didn’t know what to think. haha

  • Jamaal Charles’s Shredded Knees

    Thank God no one was smoking. That’s grounds for being pulled from the air

  • Mönkey

    That was one of the best episodes ever! More like this, please!

  • Steve

    It’s not sex, so the Parents Television Council doesn’t care.

  • Postal

    How is it people don’t know how to clear rooms, check corners, and basically create a safe path of retreat for themselves? I do this in every game and it seems like common sense.

    “Lets go explore down this hall”

    “Should we secure these side rooms or at least check behind the doors?”

    “No, it’s not like we live in a world full of hungry monsters that tend to jump out of nowhere. When we are outside, we use carefully planned safe tactics. When inside poorly lit corridors we just sort of ramble past potential points of attack with indifference.”

    “Alrighty then.”

  • Ness

    I remember the moment i said “…really FCC?!” it was after an intense moment where no one cursed, and a love scene with no skin. I got to see a zombie shave part of its face off trying to get througha window.

    no boobs or cursing for the general public, but everyone can handle a little dismemberment.

  • Ryan

    Didn’t they say the word “shit” in that episode? I could be off because I also watched Dexter sunday night.

  • E. Lee Zimmerman

    Yeah, TV ratings have always been a bit of a joke when it comes to Cable programming, and methinks it should be. These pay stations kinda fall into that uncomfortable middleground — they’re not the majors, but they aren’t Showtime or HBO or Skinemax, though they’re teetering very close with the violence.

    And others have said it right: any program featuring zombies who smoked would be handily shown given their walkin’ papers by the FCC, so maybe — in its own way — this is karma.

  • Paul you should check out the doc “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”. It explains the reasoning or lack there of, when it comes to the rating system in films. Im pretty sure it applies to TV too. It’s a pretty great doc as well.

  • Diablo

    Here is a good rule of thumb…

    A woman getting violently raped…R.

    A woman urinating…NC-17.

    When that snuff film, “Passion of Christ” got an R rating, I basically stopped giving a shit about ratings.

  • Steve2

    Trey Parker and Matt Stone have said that the reason the South Park movie was called “Bigger, Longer, and Uncut” was because every time they tried to get the R rating and got the NC-17 rating, they went back and added more to the movie. They apparently had to see the board several times before they finally got the R. They never removed anything. Hence, “Bigger, Longer, and Uncut”.

    It wasn’t a circumcision joke.

  • Lightspeed

    Dale died last season. Just sayin’.

  • MetFanMac

    It gets better. Remember The Legend of Korra? Remember how Season 1 ended (spoilers)

    with a murder-suicide?

    (end spoilers) And that’s rated TV-Y7, meaning ANYONE can watch it 😀

  • If you watch the documentary “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” they really get into who MPAA is and the process by which they rate their movies… it is indeed quite a joke.

  • Blake

    @Postal I get where you’re coming from on this, but you have to put into account that this group is used to outdoor fighting. Outdoor is is great for them because they can see what’s coming unlike whatever is popping out of a corner. When they’re outside, they’re more clear minded and know what to do, but when they’re inside, they’re more nervous and scared of whatever is on the other side. From that nervousness and fear, accidents can happen. Case and point in the 1st scene when Daryl and Rick almost took each others head off when they opened that door at the same time.

  • anon

    I love how Carl enters the house and wastes absolutely no time, backing immediately into a dark corner.