What kind of TV ranter-er would I be If I didn’t come up with a year in review post? Here’s my 15 thoughts for 2015. Things that made me happy, that pissed me off, and that I think are important for television.
So without further ado….
15. A La Carte Viewing Is On The Horizon, And It’s Network TV’s Best Friend
Many people have already started the act of cord cutting, cancelling cable or satellite subscriptions and opting for the vastly cheaper option of the internet. No, not the dreaded P word, but for the emerging on-line presence of networks and studios via apps, or paid services such as Hulu and ABC Go.
Earlier in the year analytics company Digitalsmiths conducted a poll asking consumers which networks they would, and would not, pay for should everything be unbundled and the results may surprise you. **
ALL of the big four placed within the top ten, and ABC topped the entire poll coming in at 1st place with CBS, NBC, and Fox placing 3rd, 4th and 7th respectively.
So I think we can stop with that the whole “Network Television is Dead” argument now.
14. People Need To Cool Their PC Jets
Television is about leaving your problems at the door, so stop trying to cause more because YOU didn’t find something funny. Recently Tina Fey came under fire from the ‘internet’ because of so-called politically incorrect jokes in The UnBreakable Kimmy Schmidt – and dammit they wanted apologies. Tina though, flat out said she wasn’t apologizing for shit! And good on her. Why should she have to explain and defend her writing to people that only revel in tearing people down?
Now I know what you’re thinking – I’m defending Tina, because it’s Tina. No. I’m not defending her as a fan, I’m defending her as a writer, a comedian, and someone who likes having choices on television. There’s plenty of things I hate on air but I don’t demand the creators/writers/stars/craft services apologize for making such drivel now do I? NO! You know what I do? I change the fucking channel! Yeah. It’s that easy.
This “I don’t agree with that, so I’m going to complain” mentality has gotten completely out of hand these days, and as a writer who likes quirky/weird and offbeat comedy I fear for my future. I want to be able to write a show the way I want without having to second guess every line, character choice or behavior because of possible mass internet hysteria.
Anyone can find a reason to be offended if they look hard enough but a few jokes you took the wrong way does not warrant an apology. Besides, this show premiered in March, it’s taken you that long to process things?
Move along fives, a ten is talking!
13. The Mighty Are Beginning To Fall
My foe CBS didn’t do quite as well as they thought they would buying the rights to Thursday Night Football, and many of their most popular shows are starting to lose their lustre.
What. A. Shame.
Just recently Mike & Molly was given it’s walking papers and, with the exception of The Big Bang Theory, their other comedies have taken dramatic drops in ratings and while CBS can still boast about being the most watched network on television, this is the second year in a row they’ve lost the Key Demo crown to NBC!
Excuse me while I laugh maniacally for a moment… There. I’m done now.
Are CBS in dire straits? No, of course not. They still have some of the top shows on the air, but everything is swings and roundabouts. For every NCIS that crushes the competition there’s a Supergirl losing to FOX’s Gotham, and mid-season is shaping up to see Two Broke Girls and Mike & Molly go up against ABC’s Wednesday juggernaut of comedy!
This is not going to end well CBS, so I’ll just sit back and let it play itself out.
12. There Is Such A Thing As Too Much TV (Shows)
At this year’s TCA presentations FX president John Landgraf said “There is simply too much television,” and you know what? He’s right on the money. 409 scripted comedies and dramas aired on cable, broadcast, and streaming outlets in 2015. 409!!!!! That’s a shit load. I did the math and if half of the shows in the 409 were 30 minutes long it would still take you 25.5 MONTHS to watch ONE episode of every show! And that’s if you never slept. Sweet God… make it all stop.
The major factor in this? There’s too many television channels now a days- most of which are owned by Disney/ABC and Universal/NBC.
To put it into perspective Disney/ABC own the following networks: A&E, Lifetime, Crime & Investigation, History, and all the ESPN and Disney Family networks, while Universal/NBC are responsible for USA Network, SyFy Channel, Bravo, Telemundo, and E! among many others. Yes, I know – a lot of these networks don’t air scripted shows, but sports/reality/documentary style shows – but it doesn’t matter. The market is still over saturated.
Throw into the mix the mix ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, HBO, Netflix, Comedy Central, FX, AMC, Amazon and Yahoo and you can easily see where the 25.5 months tally comes from. More airtime to fill means more programs that need to be made, but do we really need a world with thousands of channels? No, we don’t. I don’t know a single person that utilizes all those channels. Most viewers don’t stray far from the big four, and a spattering of speciality cable channels.
Perhaps 2016 can be the year we start to trim the fat, removing a lot of the superfluous channels – or at least their offshoots, and make it not only easier for people to find your shows but to make time for them. The average viewer spends 4 hours a day watching television, which does seem like quite a lot, but let me just ask you – how many times have you just chosen a show to watch simply because you’ve gotten bored scrolling through channels?
11. The Television Academy Need To Up The Ante
Okay, they set a bench mark for what constitutes a comedy, a drama, a mini series, blah blah blah and I do commend them for their efforts – but that’s only the start…
In 2011 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscar people) upped the Best Picture nominee list from 5 to 11. So Emmys, what’s taking you so long? As I stated above, there were 409 shows on the air in 2015, and while the vast majority of them are horrendous, I can easily say there’s more than 5 or 6 worthy nominees for each category.
Get it together guys.
10. It’s Still Not A Comedy
Transparent is the new Orange. Now please don’t bombard me with your hate mail, much like Orange is the New Black I also like Transparent. But it’s not a comedy. My arguments** still stand, that if it doesn’t make you laugh – or I guess try to make you laugh – then it’s not a comedy. At best Transparent is a social drama with comedic tendencies…. but laugh out loud it is not!
9. Big And Live, Is In
While the norm now a days is to DVR or stream last night’s episode of (insert show name here), event viewing brings people together. Many will say things such as the Oscars, or Golden Globes fill this hole in TV land, but I beg to differ. Award shows are predictable, we all know that apart from a possible F-bomb nothing out of the norm is going to happen.
Live event shows on the other hand…. hell anything could happen, and that’s exciting!
NBC kicked off this trend with it’s live production of The Sound of Music in 2013, and yes I’ll be the first to say I scoffed at the idea – but you know what? It worked. It worked very, very well! It garnered great reviews, great ratings and something more networks need to think about – great interactions. The live broadcast blew up on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, and brought more attention to the show than NBC’s marketing department could ever have hoped for! Any publicity is good publicity, right?
FOX clearly listened since they are the second network to jump aboard the live train, airing Grease Live on January 31st and yes, I’ll be watching!
While I hope that networks will use the Live Events sparingly – we don’t need a musical every month guys – I do believe there’s a lot that can be done to utilize the new(ish) genre with their regular roster of shows. In the past, live episodes of 30 Rock, ER, and The Drew Carey Show have brought in more viewers than normal, many of whom tune in out of curiosity.
I’ll leave you with that possible Sweeps Month food for thought.
8. The Reality Scene Is Dying
in late 2014 AMC pledged they would not be going forward with any more reality shows, instead choosing to concentrate on great story telling and in 2015 they kept that promise. Every original show on the network was a scripted series. BRAVO!
Even more exciting is that the 2015-2016 season counted it’s lowest numbers of reality shows on air for the first time in nearly a decade!
So why is this happening? Aren’t reality shows a cheap way to fill time? Yes, of course they are but if they don’t draw in viewers, a low budget is still a wasted budget. Perhaps it’s the fall out effect of the Honey Boo Boo and Duggar scandals, and networks are scared of entrusting their money and reputations to potential catastrophic human beings, or maybe viewers are tired of vapid fame whores. Either way, reality shows are slowly losing their stranglehold on the market…
With that being said though………………………….
7. The Kardashians Still Draw Them In
Earlier this year the family that won’t die signed a new 100 million dollar contract with E!, further frittering away precious television space with their smug faces. *sigh*
Why are these people so fascinating? Why? Someone fucking answer me that!! I demand all the answers.
6. TV People Are Genre Snobs
The people involved in the television industry rarely watch television, and it continuously shows at such events as The Emmys, and SAG awards. What isn’t deemed hip, cutting edge, or ground breaking generally gets over looked for some of the top honors in the television world. I wrote about the Family Sitcom Effect earlier in the year **, and that still stands up now with just a handful of examples breaking through the veil of snobbery. Black-ish managed to walk away with several nods at this year’s Emmy Awards, and dominated the Critic’s Choice Awards nominations earlier this month, but it’s still not enough. The Middle has been consistantly funny for it’s entire run, and has yet it still fails to get a mention at any of the major award shows.
The same narrow-minded attitude has taken its toll on the super hero world too. I defy you to find a more kick ass broad than Hayley Attwell’s Agent Carter, or a more deviously charming bad guy than Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswalt Copplepot on Gotham and yet both are absent on nomination ballots. The Netflix original series Daredevil has made it to many critic’s Top Ten lists recently, but failed to get a single nomination from the Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice or SAGs.
It should be pointed out that Krysten Ritter did nab a Critic’s Choice nom for Jessica Jones – so I guess people in the industry are not only snobs, but very forgetful. If it hasn’t aired in the last month, it never existed.
Basically what I’m saying is – do your fucking jobs! You’re working in TELEVISION! I’d kill to be in your place, so stop letting your genre bias stop you from enjoying some of the best television to hit us in the past decade. Either that or leave important voting to people who know what they’re talking about…. like me. I’ll expect my Emmy ballot to be in the mail in 2016.
5. Majority Mob (Parents ) Rules
We all know I loved this incarnation of The Muppets**, but I seem to be in the minority. People whined from day one about everything from the tone of the show, to the new pig that Kermit was dating and, of course, those that shout the loudest get heard.
In September the Parent’s Television Council took aim at my beloved felt heroes claiming that the show was not appropriate for their little darlings to watch. This battle continued on for several months, culminating in showrunner Bob Kushell exiting the series in early November and ABC announcing a reboot of the series during its Spring return.
Let me tell you something – I watched a lot of shows as a kid I probably shouldn’t have, and my parents let me. Yup, The Simpsons was a staple in my childhood, Saturday Night Live, Three’s Company reruns, and the most dreaded of all.. Married with Children. Yes. I was a Bundy fan at the tender age of seven. I used to quote that shit, and despite it all I turned out just fine. You know why? Because I was a kid. There were many jokes in Married With Children I didn’t get, because I wansn’t meant to! I laughed at the characters, the silliness – all things that still shine in the 2015 version of The Muppets.
It’s entertainment folks, not a babysitter so please remember no one is obligated to make a show that your over sheltered little shits can watch.
4. We’ll reboot anything
I know what you’re thinking – they rebooted The Muppets and you loved it. This is true. Now let me make myself clear here, I’m not AGAINST reboots/prequels/remakes I just don’t think we should be rebooting everything for the sake of nostalgia. Networks and production companies don’t give a damn about bringing back your childhood, they’re just fresh out of ideas and are scrapping the bottom of the barrel, turning it upside down and then beating it into a pile of mulch.
There were many planned reboots announced in 2015 such as The X-Files, Coach (!!!?!??), Twin Peaks, Heroes, Bachelor Party, Xena Warrior Princess………. and of course Full House.
Although it’ll probably make the Parent’s Council happy, let it just sink in that we’re rebooting Full House. FULL fucking HOUSE! Why? That show in no way warrants a reboot. And you know what? Neither did Boy Meets World. There I said it! Call me a traitor to my generation if you want, I don’t care. These shows had their moments, and to be honest guys if you re-watch them now – they’re terrible.
Fuller House, as it’s being called, is a carbon copy of the original – right down to the cast, set and premise. Yes, this time it’s DJ who gets to be the widow with three kids who needs the help of younger sister Stephanie and BFF Kimmy to raise them….. Really guys? REALLY!? This show was in development for three years before finally getting green lit by Netflix, and this was the BEST premise you could come up with!!?!? How much bad luck can one family have? What are they the fucking Kennedys??!
I’m holding out for the Small Wonder reboot.
3. NBC does NOT Peacock Comedy.
Sweet Lord, Greenblatt – what are you doing?
You disassembled the Thursday night institution that was Must See TV for a night of dramas. It didn’t go so well. You cancelled critically acclaimed, yet low rated, shows Marry Me and About A Boy for what? The Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. Sure, it made it a full season but then you’ve cancelled it earlier this month!
I don’t know why you can’t make the funny happen NBC, or more importantly what you have against making the funny happen but let’s just call it quits and stay in your own dramatic lane.
2. These People STILL Have Emmys
- These People STILL Do Not..
There we have folks. It’s been a roller coaster of a year in TV, and I can only assume 2016 won’t be much different. So let’s sit back, and eagerly await mid-season to start!