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Fear The Walking Dead Showrunner Responds To Season 5's Criticisms

If you're keeping up with Fear the Walking Dead, then you likely know that the series' sixth season has been one of its best so far (a blessing, considering The Walking Dead: World Beyond has been a disappointment for some). It's not just that the latest season has the highest score of any of them on Rotten Tomatoes, fans have also been singing its praises on Reddit ("Season 6 Fear The Walking Dead is spectacular!") and even publications like Forbes have written about the series' "recent surge of quality."

Of course, fans of the franchise know that part of the reason that the high quality of season 6 feels so noteworthy is because season 5 was ... really not very good. In contrast with the current season, it has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of the series, was the object of derision on Reddit, and was called "utterly terrible" by Forbes.

Both the fifth and sixth seasons were overseen by showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss. Needless to say, the negative reaction to season 5 came with quite a bit of criticism of the way the two were steering the Fear the Walking Dead ship. In a recent Entertainment Weekly interview conducted by Dalton Ross about the current "best season ever," Goldberg was asked to give his reaction to the negative reception of season 5. According to him, everybody currently loving season 6 shouldn't be so quick to write season 5 off as a misfire.

The do-gooder spirit of season 5 was meant to keep the show fresh

Of the many criticisms that were lobbed at season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead, one of the most persistent was the choice of narrative framing. The season mostly focused on the group trying to help other survivors under the guidance of Morgan (Lennie James) and his controversial philosophy of pacifism and altruism. When the group wasn't going out of their way to help those in need, they were also filming interviews extolling their virtues.

It's all very morally upstanding behavior, but many viewers found it dull and rote. In a scathing retrospective of the season for Forbes, Erik Kain wrote, "Fear The Walking Dead went from a show about the Clark family to a show about Morgan and his team helping people while making cheesy PSA documentaries in their spare time."

The season's Morgan influenced humanitarianism may have annoyed some viewers, but according to Goldberg, the intention was always to keep the show feeling revitalized and emotionally grounded. He told Entertainment Weekly, "Season 5 was an unusually bright and optimistic and kind of benevolent vibe ... [the characters] were uniting behind this shared philosophy of helping people out in the world ... And whether that was something that spoke to you as an audience member, that was very much the intention there, was to tell a story that was hopeful and optimistic."

That spirit of optimism was squashed considerably when Virginia (Colby Minifie, who may go on to be one of the franchise's best-loved villains) and her rangers came across the group toward the end of the season. According to Goldberg, the contrast between the shared mission of season 5 and the fact that most of the characters are now separated and having trouble finding their footing in season 6 was intentional.

Fear the Walking Dead's showrunners don't want you to write off season 5 just yet

If you're a committed season 5 hater, Goldberg has one request of you: Save your final judgments until the end of the series. In his interview, Ross cited franchise producer Scott Gimple, who told him that after seeing season 6 play out, he suspects fans will have a different perspective on season 5.

Goldberg was in agreement with his colleague. He said, "Yeah, I think when you kind of look at the show as a whole and look at the seasons outside of just the individual seasons, you can definitely see the relationships between them."

Furthermore, Goldberg acknowledged that he and Chambliss don't conceive of the show one installment at a time, but as a multi-season endeavor. He said, "And we very much have ... been laying out the way the show was going to unfold over multiple seasons. And we're continuing to have discussions about how it will continue into the future ... And it really is kind of mapping out these arcs that go across seasons. Otherwise, I think we run in danger of repeating ourselves or sending characters into familiar territory."

Time will only tell if the reception for season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead does a u-turn. For the time being, fans can just be content basking in the warm glow of the excellent season 6.