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"The Walking Dead" and A Reason for Hope

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | November 2, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | November 2, 2010 |

Good news for those of you who were instant fans of Frank Darabont’s “The Walking Dead,” which I assume is all of you. Right? *foot stomp* RIGHT? Did you read TK’s review, and you’re still not watching it?

I’m afraid our friendship is over, you and I.

Anyway, the good news is this: A whole lot of folks watched “The Walking Dead.” In fact, 5.3 million people watched the premier, and if you account for the rerun that aired later in the night, over 8 million people watched. On AMC. That’s network numbers, folks. That’s more than “Chuck.” That’s more than “Community.” In fact, that’s “The Office,” numbers. And we’re talking about a show on a cable network that not everyone even has, and that doesn’t even account for all the folks who illegally downloaded the episode pre-air.

That is outstanding, people. In fact, it’s the biggest cable series premiere of 2010, even though it aired against Sunday Night Football and the World Series. This is big. This is huge. This, in a way, is a fuck you to the networks. There’s a message here, and it is this: If you put intelligent genre fare on a small cable network, people will find it. They will seek it out. If you kill it, people will come. There is an audience here. These are good numbers for a network, and if the networks take note of this, maybe it’ll convince them to create something that’s not for the casual, broad, lowest-common-denominator viewer. Because 8 million hard-core “Walking Dead” viewers is a hell of a lot better than 8 million casual “Better than You” viewers barely cognizant of the world around them. There are people who will watch “The Walking Dead” live. People who will sit through the adverts. People who will buy Macs, both of the Apple and the Big variety. People with taste, and money, and buying power, and raging zombie hard-ons.

There is hope yet.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.