Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TV: The Bell Tolls For Diversity

Last week's real massacre took place as the broadcast networks culled their line ups.


The biggest casualty was diversity.

As usual, no one in The Water Cooler Set noticed.

2 BROKE GIRLS was a CBS utility player, yes, that could be placed anywhere on the schedule and pull in viewers.

It was also a show with a diverse cast which included Chinese-American Matthew Moy and African-American (and original SNL cast member) Garrett Morris.  More to the point on CBS -- where Joel McHale, Matthew Perry, Judd Hircsh, Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc are among the many men given sitcom leads by the network in recent years -- it starred Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs.

With the cancellation of 2 BROKE GIRLS, the only sitcom led by females is MOM starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney.

Four new sitcoms will air on CBS next fall: BY THE BOOK, YOUNG SHELDON, 9JKL and ME, MYSELF, AND I -- all revolving around male characters.

Diversity also took a huge hit when ABC cancelled the sitcom DR. KEN starring Korean-American Ken Jeong and which also included Suzy Nakamura, Tisha Campbell-Martin and Krista Marie Yu.

But ABC's biggest diversity hit was with LAST MAN STANDING -- a show that found its footing in season two and ended its sixth season as ABC's 2nd highest rated sitcom and 3rd highest rated scripted show.

LAST MAN STANDING was the only sitcom ABC had -- the only one on any network -- that revolved around a lead character who was conservative.

We'll come back to 2 BROKE GIRLS and LAST MAN STANDING, but for now let's note THE GREAT INDOORS.  This was a strong season one show -- and strong in the ratings.  But the Joel McHale sitcom got the axe because CBS forgot that their biggest sitcom hits tend to blossom in seasons two and three -- see THE BIG BANG THEORY, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, etc.

NBC's cancellations included THE BLACKLIST: REDEMPTION.  As we noted, hurting the show was the decision to keep the identity of Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) a secret from Scottie (Famke Janssen).  The audience knew she was his mother and the show would have zipped along faster if they'd let Scottie in on the secret -- as it did in the final two episodes.  Lesson for future show runners: Plotting is important, have more than one plot point an episode.

FOX needs to learn a lesson too.  PITCH?  Not a show we honestly cared for.  We liked the cast.  We were so-so on the scripts.  But we did appreciate and acknowledge the fact that families loved this show.  Instead of cancelling the series, they should have considered moving it to the first hour of prime time on Sundays.  This has traditionally been a strong berth for family fare even if it's been years since the networks remembered that.  An hour lead-in to THE SIMPSONS, BOB'S BURGERS and FAMILY GUY would leave only one troubled half-hour for the network to fill.

Though the network elected to renew LAST MAN ON EARTH, that show is doing worse than ever with many episodes of hitting record lows this past season.  In fairness, we should also point out that the show has improved and is often funny but how do you convince the people who sampled the show long ago to come back and give it another chance?

No amount of marketing is going to help SUPERSTORE.  NBC's failed sitcom will move next fall to Tuesday nights and follow THE VOICE.


The so-so ratings of season one disappeared in season two as the show tanked non-stop.

It might make sense to keep the sitcom if you were pinning its poor second season performance on being teamed with THE GOOD PLACE -- an unfunny sitcom that ended its season with half the viewers that showed up for its premiere.

However, THE GOOD PLACE is not just being brought back, it's being moved to Tuesday nights with SUPERSTORE.

Fall was supposed to be NBC's big comeback.  WILL & GRACE will return for 12 episodes.  This is a smart move (one we hope is also smartly executed).  But despite boasting that they're attempting to return Thursday nights to must-see-TV, WILL & GRACE is the only multi-cam sitcom they're offering.

Which brings us back to 2 BROKE GIRLS and LAST MAN STANDING.

They're multi-cams.

And they're doing well in syndication.

The way NBC's sitcoms did -- when they were multi-cams.

SEINFELD, FRIENDS, etc still do well in syndication.

When NBC moved to single-cam, they ran their audiences off with crap like MY NAME IS EARL, THE OFFICE, etc.

All those shows?

They have no syndication life.

People are rushing to offer excuses for why 2 BROKE GIRLS and LAST MAN STANDING were cancelled.

It's not really a secret.

CBS cancelled 2 BROKE GIRLS because it hates women, it always has hated women.

Lucille Ball solo?

They were forever hoping she'd crash and burn in the ratings.  At one point, they brought Doris Day to the network with the hopes that it would allow them to get rid of Lucy.


What kind of a network doesn't call a meeting to try to keep a hit sitcom?

MAUDE, KATE & ALLIE, DESIGNING WOMEN, MURPHY BROWNE, THE NANNY, CYBIL -- even non-sitcom CAGNEY & LACEY -- CBS is the network that hates women.

Always has been, always will be.

Which is how it cancels 2 BROKE GIRLS without breaking a sweat.

Tim Allen's sitcom?

ABC cancelled it because of Tim's politics.  Not just his character's politics, but Tim's politics.

People can debate like crazy but ABC didn't want to meet with 20th CENTURY FOX about cost-cutting -- or about anything.

They wanted to dump their third most successful TV show because of Tim's politics onscreen and off.

That's not right.

The lie is that they axed it because they didn't own the show.


That's the argument they want to make?

Because we remember the US government ruled that studios couldn't make films and own theaters -- it was considered a monopoly.  A similar anti-trust action led to the break up of MCA UNIVERSAL.

So is that really the argument that various critics want to make?  That ABC killed a successful show, an audience favorite, because the network did not own it?

If that's the case they want to make, we say it's time for more anti-trust actions.

ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey grasps where this path leads which is why she quickly backed away from it in a recent interview ("I wouldn't say that was the deciding factor") and insisted that "the network has shows from multiple independent studios."

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