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.
KEEP THE CHILDREN AWAY!
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.