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'Mr. Robot', 'UnReal', 'Sense8' And The Worst Shows Of 2015

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'Mr. Robot', 'UnReal', 'Sense8' And The Worst Shows Of 2015

Post by jade1013 on Mon 21 Dec - 7:33

Dec 21, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

'Mr. Robot', 'UnReal', 'Sense8' And The Worst Shows Of 2015 For Television's Old Ways

Merrill Barr , Contributor


Photo Credit: USA

409… this is the amount of scripted programming featured over the course of 2015 according to a new report released by FX as part of its continued “too much TV” campaign. 409 series that ran across the likes of broadcast, basic and premium cable and online streaming. 409 chances to maintain television’s status quo. 409 chances to change it. Without a doubt, television’s stacked to the brim when it comes to consumer choice, and that alone is one of the many reasons 2015 will go down as one of the medium’s worst years when it comes to the ways in which the industry quantifies success through traditional business models. With 409 shows, can anything be a “hit” in the classic sense? Based on the list shows many would consider the standouts of the past twelve months, the answer seems like a resounding no.

Mr. Robot, UnReal, Aquarius, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Sense8 are just some of the shows that, in one way or another, broke a mold for its producers. Mr. Robot and UnReal made it seem like any show can survive with any ratings point as long as people give a crap about its fate. Neither series tracked that well for their respective networks when it came to Nielsen ratings. Mr. Robot’s highest overall audience came in its series premiere (which was released a month ahead of time and watched by three million viewers according to USA) with a score of 1.75 million. Comparatively, its lead-in series, Suits, scored 2.13 million viewers on the same night. For UnReal, the new Lifetime drama never even cracked one million viewers during its first season – only ever reaching a high of 815,000 the night of its series premiere. In addition, the case of UnReal is even more interesting because, unlike Mr. Robot, its renewal didn’t come until after ratings for the series were known (Mr. Robot was at least renewed for season two the day of its premiere before officially airing). Both highly uniquely and tremendous series without a doubt, but to say either were hits among Nielsen households would be a flat out lie.

Let us not also forget the strange summer that was for NBC’s Aquarius. The day of the show’s series premiere, the peacock placed all the first season’s episodes online for viewers to watch for free while still continuing to air the show traditionally on Thursday nights (a similar move was later pulled in the year for Starz’s mini-series, Flesh and Bone). It wasn’t long after that initial premiere that NBC announced it would renew the low-rated series for a second season based primarily on the success of its online rollout… which is when things got weird for not two weeks after this point, NBC moved the David Duchovny starring series from Thursdays to Saturdays for the remainder of the season. So, a show that gets a second season and is labeled a success it still sent to the Saturday burn-off zone for the remainder of its freshman season. If television has a traditional definition of achievement, Aquarius certainly did not meet it.

In the case of Sense8, the divisive Netflix drama languished in limbo for months after its premiere before the streaming service finally revealed it was going to renew the series for a season two that, according to rumor, will be delayed until, at the earliest, late 2016. Given the fact that, like all Netflix show, we don’t know the viewership up the Wachowski co-created drama, all we can go on is reception when it comes to understanding why Netflix renewed the program. But, in this case, the reception of Sense8 was not the overwhelming consensus like that of its predecessors. The show spawned numerous think pieces on all the ways it stumbled in both storytelling and character development. So why renew it? It’s not going to have a shot at Emmy wins given the way academy members vote. It’s not going to draw in new subscribers the way a Daredevil or Jessica Jones will. So, really, the only reason there is to renew a show like Sense8 is because someone at Netflix wants to renew it just because they can, and that’s fine. But in no world does it fit the idea of what Netflix has come to define as a success.

Then, there’s The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show with an insane development process that begins with a pilot written, produced and locked at Showtime as a half-hour comedy before moving to the CBS/WB co-owned broadcast network as an hour-long musical dramedy. There’s saving risky shows from a shaky situation (such as what Netflix did for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt after Universal opted moved the series from NBC following the wrapping of season one’s production), and then there’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. This show was dead and done. For The CW to rescue it the way it did says a lot about its willingness to experiment with new ideas (good or not) regardless of whether or not they were the ones to actually develop them. We’re entering a world where good television can come from anywhere, and just because a specific network isn’t the one that executed the initial development, it shouldn’t mean the series in question should never see the light of day… barring its worthiness of course, which is a hard thing to determine without releasing the pilot to the public.

2015 was a strange year for television that left us with more questions than answers. Are we at peak television? Do ratings still matter? Do broadcast standards and practices still mean something? Is syndication still a viable business model? Do 22-episode seasons still make sense? These are the challenges that face an evolving medium as we enter 2016. There’s no chance all (or even most) of them will be solved by this time next year, but they’re going to be explored. The executives, producers, showrunners and everyone in between are fully aware of the medium’s changing nature. But, being aware is only part of the solution. Now, it’s a matter of finding ways to make the money of it all viable again, either by plugging the holes of the current model, or by scrapping it for a new one entirely (something that may not actually be possible without bringing the entire industry to its knees). Whatever happens, though, as we learned this year, the answers the industry seeks aren’t going to come through endless crisis meetings and shareholder conference calls. They’re going to come through action in the form of new programming that audiences can decide for themselves whether or not are worthy of their hard earned dollars when it comes time to pay the monthly cable and internet bills at the end of each passing month.


Forbes

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Re: 'Mr. Robot', 'UnReal', 'Sense8' And The Worst Shows Of 2015

Post by sir on Mon 21 Dec - 7:44

Thanks

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