AMC's television series "Preacher" has received backlash from several activist groups, sparking a new marketing campaign that is surprisingly simple. (Illustration by Kayla Rader, Northwest Vista College)

The New Season of AMC’s ‘Preacher’ Has an Interestingly Simple Marketing Campaign

According to executive producer Seth Rogen, if you find the show offensive, ‘Just don’t watch.’

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According to executive producer Seth Rogen, if you find the show offensive, ‘Just don’t watch.’

AMC’s television network has been rolling out hit shows for years now. From “Mad Men” to the “Walking Dead,” the network has never had trouble with finding an audience and keeping it with great acting and production.

The content that these shows possess can sometimes be overwhelming with violence or mature themes, but that’s just a part of what makes the shows so critically acclaimed. These hit shows have no problem with breaking ratings records from season to season.

However, one of AMC’s most recent hits has gathered some negative feedback. “Preacher,” a show that centers on the purpose of searching for God, recently picked up its third season last Sunday.

Seth Rogen, one of the executive producers on the show, announced several weeks ago that a few different activist groups have reached out regarding the show because of the strong subject matter and themes.

Considering that the biggest show currently at AMC is the “Walking Dead,” it seems a little odd that people are taking issue with a similarly dark storyline.

AMC’s “Preacher” adheres to the network’s usual mature-themed plot, but reels in controversy with several activist groups. (Image via IGN Entertainment)

The show follows the adventures of a Texas-born man, who recently returned to town to follow in his father’s footsteps as the town preacher, alongside his two outrageous friends as they search the Deep South for any sightings of God.

When some catastrophic event occurs, a mystical power from space came to the preacher, allowing him to command anybody without fail. This power gives the preacher the ability to make anyone say or do anything. With a simple description like that, most would wonder where all the backlash could’ve started. It seems straight forward and has a pretty relatable series arc.

Well, the show sprinkles in its fair share of mature themes, such as drugs, violence, sex and pure absurdity, at times to keep things interesting. These themes are a critical point to the show.

Now that the third season is underway, Seth Rogen introduced a new marketing technique in order to cope with these complaints. Being known for creating such raunchy and brutal television series and known to have no interest from writers or producers to soften any of the content, the marketing team decided to embrace these attributes.

Instead of apologizing, changing or stopping the show in general, “Preacher” recently adopted a new slogan: “Just don’t watch.”

The creators of the show are now urging those who may be sensitive to ruthless content, and anybody who may not be interested at all, to just avoid watching. The writers are essentially saying, “If you don’t like it, that’s too bad because we aren’t going anywhere.”

This is a pretty welcome technique in an overly progressive and sensitive society. In today’s time, everybody seems to be empowered to cater to the likes of everyone, no matter how impossible that is.

So, instead of addressing these complaints with sincerity and concern, the folks at “Preacher” have identified the show they want to create and won’t let anyone stand in their way.

The show is based on the mid-‘90s graphic novel of the same name and plot. So, most of the story is already prepared for the onscreen adaption.

With a rather simple main plotline, the show gets most — if not all — of its depth through the dynamic aspects of each of the three characters.

The Preacher, known as Jesse Custer, is shown to have a really brutal upbringing and leads to a shrouded path that ultimately led him to become a man of God. Growing up as the preacher’s son, Jesse was subjected to a strict household that revolved around serving God.

“Preacher” is anything but holy and in the name of God. (Image via Vulture).

The brutal part comes from his relationship with his father. Jesse’s father, slowly revealed throughout the show, was coldly murdered within the view of his son. This, in turn, developed Jesse as a cold and aggressive sinner-turned-preacher.

Before returning as the town Preacher, the show eventually revealed that, for years, Jesse was involved with numerous acts of crime and other not-so-Christian type activities. Needless to say, the town doesn’t have much faith in him as their new preacher.

His two friends both have similarly brutal back stories. Tulip O’hare, Jesse’s girlfriend and lifelong best friend, comes from a family known for being cheats and liars. As Tulip grew up, she adhered to the family name by participating in years of organized crime waves, such bank robberies, alongside Jesse.

The other friend is a 100-something-year-old Irish vampire named Cassidy, who is introduced to the show after he narrowly escaped the clutches of a group of religious fanatics trying to hunt him down.

His introduction scene featured lots of blood and violence, in which Cassidy is forced to take out the entire crew. Golf clubs, maces and crossbows were all a part of the bloodbath. Although this is is just on the surface of all the things the show possesses, maybe now the backlash doesn’t seem so misguided.

AMC is no stranger to brutally dark content — their most famous shows happen to involve a lot of death — but it seems like the subject matter of “Preacher” has unhinged some activists who feel they’re trying to do the right thing. Aside from the countless mature themes featured in the show so far, “Preacher” has done fairly well in ratings and has struck a large audience for AMC.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Seth Rogen started to see these complaints. It’s likely the issues didn’t solidify until the third season because the show has grown from season to season, and likely wasn’t well-known in its start.

Regardless, the show has featured these viscous elements since the very first episode. The writers have stayed consistent all the way through and don’t seem like changing anytime soon.

As a standard cable network, AMC can produce whatever type of show they so choose. They would never really be forced to change anything, so long as the content doesn’t break any rules.

Even with all the insane happenings in the show, there’s nothing that isn’t allowed.

The response from the “Preacher” staff to provide such an uncaring and honest approach to the backlash is not common in today’s time. But, it seems that it was an important move in order to maintain the integrity of the vision they’re trying to create.

The show has lots of fans that really enjoy all it has to offer. Instead of making a few people who don’t like it feel better, they’re sticking by the fans. If you can’t handle it, then just don’t watch it.

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Joey Cunningham

University of Arizona

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