When AMC announced it was creating a prequel spinoff to ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead, there was a healthy mix of skepticism and excitement. Sure, TWD was and continues to be a ratings phenomenon, but the question remained: Would adding a second zombie-based show to AMC’s schedule risk over saturating the genre?
With regard to the ratings of Fear the Walking Dead so far, the resounding answer to that question appears to be: “no.” While not quite measuring up to the numbers posted by its older sibling, FTWD has performed extremely well, routinely crushing its Sunday-night competition.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that AMC opted to renew Fear the Walking Dead for a 16-episode third season, presumably set to premiere next spring. That 16-episode order is a slight bump up from season 2’s 15 installments, and puts Fear in line with the number of yearly episodes the original Walking Dead series typically produces. AMC has also announced the concurrent renewal of the Chris Hardwick-hosted after show, Talking Dead: Fear, continuing Hardwick’s seeming quest to hold the most jobs in show business at any one time.
For those yet to tune in, Fear the Walking Dead is set in Los Angeles at the start of the zombie apocalypse Rick Grimes and Co. have spent six seasons battling through. So far, though they exist in the same world, the two shows have remained separate from one another, although it’s hard to imagine that the two worlds won’t eventually collide if both manage to stay on the air long enough. If such a situation were to occur, though, one assumes it would logically have to take place on The Walking Dead, since the two groups clearly haven’t met each other yet in the present-day timeline.
Of course, with The Walking Dead experiencing a small ratings drop during season 6, one wonders how long AMC’s zombie bubble can last. Sure, going from a 7.4 to a 6.5 average rating in the 18-49 demo still leaves TWD at the top of the charts, but prior to season 6 the numbers had only been going up. There’s also the fact that fairly soon, AMC will be adding a third zombie drama to its ranks in the form of Empire of the Dead, a series created by none other than legendary horror director George Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead). While two zombie shows turned out fine, three might just be tempting fate. Until then, though, zombie fans will be busy enjoying the most undead-rich period in TV history.
Fear the Walking Dead continues this Sunday with ‘We All Fall Down’ at 9pm on AMC.