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Why ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘American Horror Story’ Prove TV Needs to Chill With the Head-Smashing Scenes

In these days of peak prestige television, it’s no surprise that all our favorite small-screen series have certain things in common. But does one of those things have to be graphic, blood-soaked beatings about the head with a blunt object?

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Apparently, yeah. If you’ve been watching any of the hottest TV properties this season, you might have noticed that bludgeoning is kind of the new black. The record-breaking premiere on Sunday, October 23, of The Walking Dead‘s seventh season featured new baddie Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) cracking the skulls of two beloved characters with a barbed wire–wrapped baseball bat. Three days later, American Horror Story gave us a scene where Shelby (Lily Rabe) bashed her husband’s head in with a crowbar after she caught him having sex with a witch in their basement. And less than two weeks ago, a malfunctioning robot on Westworld crushed his own skull to a bloody pulp with a giant rock (for as-yet-unrevealed reasons, but damn, it was gross.)

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That’s a whole lotta bludgeoning in a very short period of time, and frankly, it could start getting tiresome. Here’s why TV needs to cool it with the cranium-crushing already.

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If you’ve seen one bludgeoning, you’ve seen ’em all.

The sight of André Holland (Matt) lying on the ground with his brains spilling all over the place on the October 26 episode of AHS was a whole new level of ghastly horror … or rather, it would have been, if The Walking Dead hadn’t shown us the exact same thing, twice, only a few days prior. Lesson learned: There are only so many ways you can crush somebody’s skull with a blunt object before it all kinda starts running together. 

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in The Walking Dead
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in ‘The Walking Dead’

It’s bringing down the level of post-show discourse.

“Dude, did you see that bludgeoning scene? … No, the other one. No, the other other — you know what, never mind. Let’s just talk about tacos or something.”

It’s as upsetting as it is gross.

There’s something especially horrible about seeing a favorite character with his head all mangled (just look at the way fans have reacted to Glenn’s graphic death on The Walking Dead). Don’t get us wrong, it’s not that you can never do bludgeoning — but it’s probably a good idea not to overdo it, lest it lose its impact. Save it for special occasions!

Lily Rabe as Shelby in American Horror Story: Roanoke
Lily Rabe as Shelby in ‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’

Plus, we know y’all can do better.

American Horror Story has given us stoner cannibals, self-cremation and a murderer with the head of a pig. The Walking Dead has given us Well Zombie, an aquarium full of severed heads and the single greatest death-by-Subaru ever shown on screen. After such a diverse array of wildly creative killings, all this head-bashing is just one big yawn. Here’s hoping the writers flex those creative muscles to give us all a nice dismemberment or death by meerkat to keep things from getting stale.

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Tell Us: Do the skull-smashing scenes still blow your mind?

The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays at 9 p.m. ET. American Horror Story airs on FX Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.  

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