Emmys 2013: Showrunners on violence — Everything comes from story

The depiction of violence in popular entertainment has long been a hot-button issue. At the same time, bloodshed is an intrinsic part of such TV dramas as "The Walking Dead," "Boardwalk Empire," "Game of Thrones," "Homeland" and "Breaking Bad."

In this clip from the Envelope Emmy Roundtable, the showrunners behind those five series discuss how and why they portray violence on screen.


For Glen Mazzara of "The Walking Dead," it's important to deal with the consequences of violence. "The violence that we show is often very quick, brutal, kind of surprising and stunning," he says. "And then we spend a lot of time on people talking and trying to process the trauma. And I think that's a very important part of what we want to do, is show the effects of this world on these people. They're trying to make sense of this world and they can't."

Mazzara adds, "Violence is a tree: You have to look at the roots, you have to look at the branches, the whole thing."

Terence Winter says the violence on "Boardwalk Empire" is always motivated by the story. "Violence is part and parcel of the gangster world," he says, "so it's sort of, if you're going to do a show about gangsters, you're going to see some horrific violence. We try to be mindful of the fact that we don't gratuitously say, 'Oh gee, it's been 15 minutes, somebody needs to get killed.' Again, everything comes from story, everything comes from the reality of these characters."

David Benioff of "Game of Thrones" says that in contrast to a show like "Homeland," "I think we're lucky that we don't have to worry about current events, at least, because Iran's not breeding dragons or anything."

But like "Boardwalk," "Thrones" is set in a violent world. "This is not like your PG-13 studio fantasy movies where there are a lot of sword fights but you don't see any blood and where none of the hobbits are ever thinking about sex," Benioff says. "This is a graphic world, and that was part of what drew us to the story .… We certainly are not thinking about society's current stance on violence when we're writing the scripts."

Click on the video link above for more.