The mid-season finale of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead concluded by finally revealing the fate of Madison Clark (Kim Dickens). For the entirety of Season 4, viewers have been watching nervously to discover where Madison was and whether she was alive or dead.
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information about the mid-season finale of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead. Please proceed with caution if you have not viewed Episode 8 of Season 4 and would like to avoid spoilers.
However, by the close of Episode 8 of Fear the Walking Dead, the truth was revealed: Madison had perished in order to save her children's lives.
While Madison's death was devastating to many viewers, it has now been suggested that Madison, an aging female, was killed off as a result of the prevalent issue of ageism in Hollywood.
For women in Hollywood, there is always the assumption that you have to be young, thin, and beautiful in order to get anywhere career-wise. For many actresses, the fear of getting older is a real threat to their career, whereas for men, viable parts are still available regardless of their age.
There are some pretty impressive statistics to back up the ageism claim in relation to women in Hollywood, too. According to the Hollywood Reporter, statistics from USC Annenberg show that "less than 40 percent of all TV speaking roles went to girls and women (the percentage in the cable realm is 37 percent)." They also add that "in the cable arena, 29.4 percent of female characters were 40 or older."
In addition to these statistics, a 2016 Vox study shows that "44 percent of deaths happen to women." Of the women who don't die onscreen in television, they rarely fall into the "over 40" category.
As the Hollywood Reporter also points out, Madison was considered the lead character in Fear the Walking Dead. So, for AMC to kill her off in the mid-season finale would be equivalent to killing Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in The Walking Dead. With the persistent reports that Andrew Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead of late, this could become a moot point. However, it could be argued that the difference here could be that Andrew Lincoln made the choice to leave The Walking Dead, whereas, in Kim Dickens' case, it was a creative decision by AMC.
In interviews, such as this one by the Hollywood Reporter, done by Kim Dickens (who is 52 years old in real life) after Madison's departure in the mid-season finale, it becomes clear that it was not Dickens' decision to leave. She states that she was "disappointed" to be leaving Fear the Walking Dead.
However, the showrunner did attempt to justify Madison's departure as being the culmination of her storyline in another interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
"We started this season with the thematic idea and emotion we wanted to explore being hope and taking people from hopelessness toward that hope. Madison is the ultimate embodiment of hope," Ian Goldberg, another of Fear's showrunners, explained.
It is further explained that with Madison's children's loss of hope, the second part of Season 4 will delve into how they will meet people filled with hope and how their journey will bring them back to Madison's original vision. In fact, it is Madison's legacy of hope that will be the fuel for powering the entire show.
"Hope as a theme is something that's very much going to be a part of the DNA of the show going forward."
"There were thousands of walkers in that stadium that were feet away from her just before they went up in flames. So, Madison died making that sacrifice for her family."