Now that I can actually watch TV again, I’ve developed some fairly strong opinions on ratings and how one show is renewed over another that falls into a completely different category.
I hate most reality shows. It’s obvious that most are scripted (Real Housewives of [insert city here], anyone?) and the production companies make a fortune off them because they don’t have to pay the participants anything unless they win. Even then, the winner will see little to none of the money depending on what the terms of the contract are. Kudos to the producers for minting money based on someone’s pathological desire to be famous just for being famous. I thought Survivor was stupid when it first came out in 10th grade. I still think it’s stupid. I lump American Idol and all the knockoffs of it, Dancing with the Stars, and pretty much every other show on a major network in there as well. I watched Top Chef through it’s 6th season and Project Runway through the 5th season. These shows require a base level of talent to even make it on the show. Every other show? If you’re willing to sign this waiver, c’mon in! Shows like these (and football, much as I love you, boys) shouldn’t be lumped in with what most people think of as “scripted” shows a la Law & Order for rating or renewal purposes. Apples and oranges, kiddies.
Scripted shows deserve their own category. Then based on those ratings and how they perform, determine who makes the cut and who doesn’t. Reality shows clog up those rankings. It’s a foregone conclusion that American Idol and Survivor will be the only survivors of the apocalypse along with cockroaches. Even the cockroaches won’t be amused. Let’s give the shows which require actual actors with something vaguely resembling talent a fair shake. It’s the same conundrum that started with TiVo and has since trickled to Amazon and Hulu. If you’re not watching live, how do they know how many people are watching? If you can’t track a show’s popularity accurately and cancel it, that’s a great way to piss off a lot of viewers. I rarely watch shows live. Most of my generation relies on some form of internet or recorded version of the show. Boy doesn’t have cable and never intends to get it. Any show we’re interested in watching can be accessed in several ways. There’s no need for it. Networks need to seriously reconsider how they track viewership, determine ratings, and who is measured against who for the purposes of renewal.
I also think scripted shows should have a 100 episode (about 5 season) maximum. After 100 episodes, the writers tend to go off the rails. I challenge you, faithful reader, to name a show that has survived more than 5 seasons with out a significant drop in quality. And go!