TCA: Williamson Defends 'Following's Violence for Story's Sake

Pasadena, Calif. – The cast and producers of Fox’s The Following had to have been expecting be peppered with questions about the graphic violence in the upcoming show about a serial killer and his cult of followers, and they got them Tuesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

“There’s some moments of squeamishness, it’s not for the faint of heart. But it’s not the sum of the show,” said creator/executive producer Kevin Williamson. “Every episode’s different,” he said, noting that if an episode has a particularly high body count, he’s conscious to tone it down in the next one.

Williamson expectedly fielded several questions about the Newtown elementary school shooting and whether TV content is getting too violent.

“I think we all worry about it. Who wasn’t affected by Sandy Hook? We’re all traumatized by it,” he said. “But I’m writing fiction, I’m a storyteller. We don’t sit around and think of ways to kill people. I’m sitting around thinking of the drama.”

In addition to The Silence of the Lambs, Williamson did say that school shootings in a way served as an inspiration for The Following, in that he wanted to explore the minds of people who commit acts of mass murder.

“What happened at Columbine sort of inspired this in a weird way,” he said. “That’s what this story is about, shining a light on some of those minds.”

The cast emphasized that all the violence is relevant to the story and the characters, and resisted the claim that it was gratuitous.

“The acts of violence come out of people’s story, it’s not completely random,” said star James Purefoy, who plays serial killer Joe Carroll.

“I think we’ve talked a lot about the physical violence, but it’s all surrounded by the characters,” added star Kevin Bacon “In a lot of ways Kevin Williamson — you may find this heard to believe — he’s really a softie. He’s really interested in the love story of the show.”