Sunday, May 17, 2015

TV: Shonda Rhimes' fall from grace

"He's got the biggest heart and the smallest penis in town, everyone knows his wife's cheating on him and now they cancelled his series?"

Yes, it's been a tough two weeks for everyone -- some had it rougher than others.  Like the hot guy with the micro penis that our friend was talking about.

But whether you're a good looking guy hung like a two-year-old or an actress literally working your butt off (one friend swears her ass lost two inches -- "that I couldn't afford to lose" -- doing junkets last fall to promote a now cancelled show), spring 2015 has been all about the suffering.

And the suffering took place on both sides of the screen.


In fact, the audience was punished repeatedly -- by networks eager to shed popular shows, yes, but also by show runners who went off the rail.

Let's focus on one in particular.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital does wonderful work.

And Shonda Rhimes can take comfort in the fact that what she's done on Scandal is resulting in a generous donation to St. Jude's.

Yes, the bet is being paid up finally.

For those just arriving to the crime scene, Shonda killed Scandal.

When the show returned after the winter finale with "Run" (January 29th), 10.48 million viewers tuned in -- the second highest episode of the season.

The show as unbeatable an ABC exec and friend boasted/insisted.

We told him he was crazy.

We told him he was bat s**t insane.

And that so was Shonda.

The episode got ratings, yes.

It also killed the show.

No one watched the show to see Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) being a victim.  Now here she was, kidnapped and terrorized, and with no hints that she would be free anytime soon.

The episode had huge ratings because viewers thought, "Olivia got kidnapped back in November, let's see how she gets out of this!"

And they watched the whole show to see that -- but she didn't get free.

This woman was scared.

And she was being mocked and toyed with.

And she would be auctioned off like a slave -- in the midst of Black History Month, no less.

This wasn't Olivia Pope.

We said back then that Shonda had killed the show and the ratings were about to drop so enjoy that nearly ten and a half million figure since it would never again get those ratings  this season.

And we were told we were wrong.

We were told we didn't know what we were talking about.

We even had that stupid (and meaningless) advertising tagline repeated to us: Shonda knows drama.

We said, "Fine.  Let's put money on it."

And we bet a modest lunch.

But then the next week saw us proven right and the exec still couldn't believe it.

So week after week, he elected to double down and let it ride.

When it got up to ten thousand, we said when he paid up, he could just make it as a donation to St. Jude's.

As the series set one record after another for season low, he just refused to admit reality and took to insisting that the last two episodes -- the lead up to the season finale and the season finale -- is when Shonda would pull it out of the toilet and the viewers would return.

Didn't happen.

Thursday was the season finale.

It was lower than the third season finale and the second season finale.

It was just barely higher than the season one finale -- just barely.

And you may remember, season one's ratings were so mediocre that the renewal of Scandal was something of a question mark during that first seven episode season.

ABC refused to see the writing on the wall but we heard the song streaming in the air.  It was Tina Turner singing "Back Where You Started" (which she won a Grammy for ):

Baby tell me what you're trying to prove
Playing games with my heart
Hey now listen -- I ain't gonna take it one more night
You're the one who broke the rules
I'm the one who played the fool
Now you're trying to tell me it's alright
You should know better than to hurt a friend
You'll never get a chance again
You'll be
Back where you started.

And Shonda is.

Back where she started.

She built a hit show and she tore it down.

Her stupidity, her drive towards self-destruction and, most of all, her disdain for the audience led her to destroy Thursday night's biggest show.

As the audience fled, ABC was convinced it would be back the next week, or the next or right before the season finale or, finally, with the season finale.

It didn't come back.

The season's over and what started with 11.96 million viewers ended with the lowest rated full season of the show's history.

There's a plague infecting ShondaLand and it's Shonda Rhymes herself.

The finale was a major disappointment in terms of the writing -- see Rebecca's "scandal - just stupid," Lindsay Putnam's "It's time for Shonda Rhimes to quit" (New York Post) and Chloe Gilke's "'Scandal' can't escape the prison of its plot" (Michigan Daily).

But Shonda's ratings have been eroding -- across the board.

The highest rating for her new 'hit' How To Get Away With Murder was its winter finale.  As we've noted repeatedly here, the audience began fleeing after Shonda made the killers of the cheating husband a cavalcade of students and not supposed series lead Viola Davis.

Grey's only bright spot in the ratings this season was the episode that killed off Patrick Dempsey's character.

Thursday night is in free fall.

Next fall, look for it to really get bad because this was the season that The Blacklist finally found its footing and NBC's planning to pair it up with the Heroes revival and a floundering ABC Thursday led by a floundering Shonda will have a real struggle to keep up with that.

In fact, instead of bringing viewers yet another new series this fall from Shonda Rhimes, ABC should have told her, "You've spread yourself too thin and that ratings prove it."

The fall from grace of Shonda is the TV story of this season but no one wanted to tell it.

When we started truth telling this story, we assumed our work would be (yet again) immediately pirated and pass off as the original thought and analysis of this or that member of The Water Cooler Set.

But this is how lazy and stupid these alleged 'critics' are -- they've failed to notice that all three of Shonda's current shows have suffered massive erosion, that viewers have fled.

When this does finally get attention from others -- and it will -- expect Shonda's shows to pull in even less viewers because part of her audience has always been faddish -- she was 'talked about' so they watched.

Now that her shows have lost their cachet, now that viewers are fleeing, look for the hangers on to go packing as well.

A lot took place this season but if you followed The Water Cooler Set, all you heard about was hype, copy that read like press releases for their pet favorites.

There wasn't a lot of examination or exploration.

Just a lot of high fives and head butting (when not attacking any show with a female lead -- a 'trend' that never dies for The Water Cooler Set).

A lot of shows got the axe and maybe that wouldn't be the case if The Water Cooler Set had done their job?

Maybe next fall, they can give up trying to look like cool high schoolers and instead actually try to earn their paycheck?

We won't hold our breath.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }