WARNING: Spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
Throughout the entirety of The Walking Dead, despite receiving huge amounts of love from fans, the show has often received a lot of criticism for the fact that it seems as though there is a quota for black, male characters. With many viewers noting that it seemed as though when a new black, male character joined the cast, another black, male character had to be killed off. Now, following the second episode of Fear the Walking Dead, the issue seems to have arisen again.
Despite Fear's diverse cast of characters (which includes El Salvadoran characters Daniel, Griselda and Ofelia Salazar, Latina character Liza Ortiz, and Maori character Travis Manawa), the show has caused some controversy when it killed off three black, male characters in the first three episodes.
Given the fact that this isn't a new issue people have taken up with AMC, the fact that three black, male characters have been the main central deaths so far in Fear the Walking Dead doesn't exactly look good.
Fear the Walking Dead showrunner Dave Erickson has spoken out in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter to defend the decisions made to have these characters killed off, saying:
Once the story was set, it was the story. Once the story is playing out in a specific way, that's the line that you want to follow. It wasn't as though we were writing those characters and then casting those characters with an intention of, "This is going to be the death scene for this episode." For that episode, it was about how it would reflect on the characters themselves and how things would play out over the course of the season. I realize it's clearly become an issue and it's something we are mindful of. But ultimately it's trying to tell the story the best way we can and cast the best people we can. I wouldn't want to go back and recast a character just to avoid … if it doesn't feel true to the character or the relationship — the relationship with Alicia and Matt or Calvin and Nick — it's really about the reality of the world that we're trying to inhabit and trying to have the best actors portray those parts. When you're dealing with a show where you have a cast that is as diverse as ours is, it's inevitable that characters of color are going to get bit and are going to turn or die. If you look at the larger scope of this season, what people will see is that there is parity. We want to tell the story in the best way we can and want the best actors to play those parts. It would have been a mistake to go with Anglo actors for those particular roles because I don't think that's honest to the world of the show.
So, basically, the deaths weren't planned when the characters were cast, but also the writers didn't change the script to deal with the issue either. While I can understand the desire to cast the best actors for a particular role, it seems as though someone on the crew should have raised some concerns, considering the franchises controversial history in that department. Surely changing even one of these characters would have been possible, and still would have been "honest" to the series?
But despite any controversies that the show might be encountering, there's no doubt it's off to a magnificent start in the ratings category. The premiere episode broke records when 10.13 million tuned in, and the second episode managed 8.2 million, a seriously admirable effort for the first season of a new series.
Fear the Walking Dead will not be on next week (due to Labor Day Weekend) but it will return to AMC on September 13th.