10 February 2014 3:14 PM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Just in case anyone doubted “The Walking Dead” could continue the ratings surge its fourth season experienced last year, the staggering numbers AMC posted Sunday night should put any skepticism to rest. If beating everything in broadcast and cable in the 18-49 demographic was starting to seem anticlimactic at this point, the drama series managed to top the Olympics, too.

Because the word “hit” has been overused to the point of utter meaninglessness in the TV industry, it’s easy to overlook that we are witnessing an honest-to-god phenomenon in our midst. But make no mistake: “Walking” has a freakishly huge audience. Which begs a simple question: why?

Stifle the urge to retort, “It’s the zombies, stupid”; “Walking” is actually about as improbable a megahit as the TV industry has ever produced.

To simply chalk up the success of “Walking” to the viability of the horror genre is to misunderstand the show. »

- Andrew Wallenstein

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