Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Love My Shows

Look, I could sit here and blog-snipe shows like Two and a Half Men or Mike & Molly or whatever focus-grouped vanilla sitcoms are walking all over 30 Rock in the ratings. It would be fun, and it would be easy, and over time it would take a few years off my life.

Here's the bottom line of it: we (wherein "we" refers to anyone with some sort of discernment) are lucky to be entertained by anything on television. The entire medium is just a vehicle for advertising. Read that sentence again, knowing that it is not in fact hyperbole. TV exists to broadcast commercials. TV shows are things companies use to trick us into watching those commercials. Commercials make broadcast television free, and basic cable cheaper. The fact that you laugh at all or care what happens to someone in the seven minute segment between commercials is kind of a little miracle.

If you take a minute to actually look at TV ratings, you might be surprised*. For example, 30 Rock spent a lot of time opposite Shit My Dad Says. One is a brainchild of a beloved comedienne and one of the most talented writers in the business. The other is based on a Twitter feed. Average viewership of that Twitter feed: 4 million people. 30 Rock: maybe 4 million on a good night, could be closer to 2. Meanwhile, that beast that no one understands, Two and a Half Men, eats up 10 million people. With a rerun.

So I came to a conclusion, which has helped me maintain my sanity and quit worrying about how such a predictable, lowest-common-denominator heatseeker like that performs. Most people just don't care about TV. It's kind of my job, on a few levels. But most people come home, they're tired, they want to see pretty people say funny things and not really pay attention. Or they want to see people like them get into scrapes just like they do, and make it funny. Or they want to see functionally retarded gorilla people get hammered and swap STDs. Whatever.

We're all just being sold something.

*Don't get me started on whether we have an accurate measure of the effect of commercials, or how many people truly do watch commercials. I'm sure many books have been written on the subject with conflicting conclusions.

1 comment:

  1. So true, it's all about marketing! 30 Rock is probably one of the best shows on TV right now.