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People are stupid, or why no one watches your favorite show

Who gets the blame for good shows performing badly? The showrunner? The network? Marketing? Or viewers who aren't smart enough to see what is in front of them.


It is the age-old problem: shows you love get canceled before their time, while others — you know, those shows — continue on, season after season, taking up time slots that would be much better used by quality television. Things aren’t looking good for Life Unexpected, as most of the other dramas on the CW got pick up orders last week. This morning I caught a tweet from showrunner Liz Tigerlaar , where she shared a blog post about why the sophomore drama on the CW isn’t having the success he thinks it deserves. I can’t really agree with any of his arguments, though … to me, the real reason the show isn’t putting up great ratings, is American TV viewers are just plain stupid.

Let’s take a look at the three reasons in the post:

  1. The CW cares more about its female-themed and supernatural/action shows.  I’m not sure that I agree, but who cares? The CW doesn’t watch their show, and are thus not represented in the ratings. Sure, high-profile (yet crappy) projects like Melrose Place are given a longer leash, but thirteen episodes is more than enough to establish following (Grey’s Anatomy did it in nine episodes one summer).
  2. Life Unexpected’s time slot stinks. Don’t get fellow Clacker Brett started about the time slot argument (No, really, don’t … please). To summarize, though: good shows will succeed no matter what time slot they have. And, truly, he’s right. People will follow shows they like, and when faced with a decision between NCIS and LUX, they’ll choose the show they like more, not the show that their neighbor is watching.
  3. The CW isn’t doing a good enough job promoting Life Unexpected. Well, I can’t argue with that point straight out … because I don’t think the network is doing a good enough job putting this show in front of viewers (but advertising isn’t why it loses viewers week over week). But, to the full point he makes, lets remember that it’s the studio, and not the network that determines DVD and iTunes availability. Mojo Films, CBS Television Studios, and Warner Brothers Television are not the CW.

Despite the protestations of die-hard fans, what it comes down to is people need to watch a show for it to be renewed. The networks aren’t in the business of keeping under-performing shows on the air just because of the small but fervent fanbases (NBC and Chuck seem to be an outlier at this point). Why not? Because the small fanbase equals less people watching the advertisements, which is what gives the networks the money to pay for the shows.

So, here’s my big argument. The reason that good shows don’t catch on with a greater amount of people is because people, as a whole, are stupid. (There’s a much bigger argument here about how the classic dichotomy of high culture vs popular culture is now being played out in some of the more common-culture mediums like television but I’m just summing it up.) Sure there are exceptions to this rule (FOX’s bumbling of the original airing of Firefly), but for the most part, it’s about people not watching.

Look at Life Unexpected. Last year, 2.83m people watched the premiere, last week it was 1.66m. Are we really to think that those lost viewers aren’t smart enough to find the show on a different night (or, their DVRs can’t figure it out either)? Or because the CW isn’t advertising the show enough? Or is it more likely that people don’t like the show enough to watch it? And that’s what it comes down to … Life Unexpected is the best family drama on network television today, and if people don’t like it, well, they’re just plain stupid.

(If you can’t recognize that my calling most American television viewers stupid is a bit tongue-in-cheek, well, then, you’re stupid.)

Photo Credit: The CW

Categories: | Clack | Features | Firefly | General | TV Shows |

27 Responses to “People are stupid, or why no one watches your favorite show”

October 25, 2010 at 2:15 PM

So there’s nothing wrong with me, it’s “them”. That’ll work.

October 25, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Yeah, it so much simpler this way :)

October 25, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Well, I think Parenthood is the best family drama on television, so you’re just stupid. Hee hee – this is fun!

October 25, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Now if only this were about a show that acutally was good… I mean honestly don’t you think that the storyline was good for about 15 episodes and then they just started pulling stuff out of their collective asses? Over and over again with he radio conversations. And over and over again with stuff Lux and her “friends” did that were totally out of character.

It’s the same as with “Kyle XY”. One Season order after another without actual material. You could say the same about “Dawson’s Creek” I guess, but compared to LUX, DC was genious.

I’m glad this show didn’t stop “Being Erica” from getting a third season to be honest, that’s all I can say. For me, the numbers reflect the amount of people who were able to suspend their disbelief concerning the plot development. The rest (like me) stopped watching because they don’t like stupid plots. And that’s just it. Maybe the female audience is better at being gullible and that’s what the writer was so unhappy about.

October 25, 2010 at 9:09 PM

Maybe the female audience is better at being gullible and that’s what the writer was so unhappy about.

I sincerely hope you’re kidding with this statement, but if not, it doesn’t really make much sense. The CW’s main viewers ARE women. The fact that Life Unexpected is struggling is kind of proof that female viewers aren’t that gullible.

October 25, 2010 at 9:11 PM

Oh right, I meant male audience. Sorry :-)

October 25, 2010 at 9:12 PM

No, sir, I don’t think that. I didn’t think it when you made the suggestion after the second episode of the season (Which was, ironically, the 15th episode), nor do I now, or I probably wouldn’t still be reviewing the show :P

And I’m pretty sure they haven’t done a scene in the radio station for several episodes … Since Cate was fired and all.

October 25, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Huh? I watched the whole first season. I am not talking about the first 15 episodes of Season Two Ivey… the first 15 episodes of the show in general, which were enough to tell the story of a young girl meeting her real parents for the first time. And once that was done, they started fishing for material and are failing at that.

October 25, 2010 at 9:16 PM

I know… There were only 13 episodes in the first season, thus, the second episode of this was the 15th overall.

October 25, 2010 at 9:21 PM

So the argument now is that they got rid of the Radio Station in Episode 14 and that makes my argument invalid?

I guess you are right then… if that means you win the argument might be another thing altogether.

October 25, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Didn’t know anyone was trying to win anything…. I got confused when you said that you gave up with the show because you felt it ran its course after its 15th episode when it hadn’t yet reached its 15th episode.

In the end, you don’t like the show, and I do. You can’t understand why I like the show, and I … Well, still like it :P

October 25, 2010 at 9:28 PM

I gave reasons. You just say people are stupid.

Your reaction to me giving reasons was arguing details about my examples. Like, say, me not being correct about when exactly the radio station was canned (I thought the first Season had 16 episodes).

If you can only justify why something you like isn’t actually liked by others by saying “people are stupid” then that’s a way to understand TV in general. But maybe you shouldn’t review shows if you can’t justify your tastes towards the masses you write for.

But that’s just me. Maybe that’s not a criterium here anyway, looking at that other guy writing about stuff he doesn’t like and not understanding why people have a different opinion as to why a show is good when he doesn’t like it.

You should form a club.

October 25, 2010 at 4:05 PM

“The CW isn’t doing a good enough job promoting Life Unexpected”

Now I only watch Supernatural on this network but I cannot believe the showrunner wrote this. For the crossover event with some other show every single break in Supernatural that night had duel commercials for this “event”. In general I see ads for this show during every Supernatural episode so I have to believe they are also being run during other shows.

October 25, 2010 at 9:13 PM

Yeah, Sharie makes a good point that it was more because of the OTH nature of the crossover. And when you do more to advertise the 5th episode back than the premiere, then you’ve got some issues :)

October 25, 2010 at 6:46 PM

I just wanted to disagree with the above poster. The crossover event had commercials, yes, but it was marketed as a One Tree Hill crossover event (an aging show) that if you didn’t get into eight years ago, you probably wouldn’t get into it now. There was NO mention of other performances by like Ben Lee or Sarah McLachlan (at least the commercials I saw). And also point made in that those were the only commercials really remembered or seen. What about the other episodes? I watch TVD and Nikita and I did not see ONE commericial advertising Life Unexpected.

Let’s also not forget there was a six month gap between the last April episode and September. While maybe there was no choice, it didn’t help that there was a full blast of articles mentioning this show and cancellation in the same sentence.

I would also assume that the CW would have some impact on DVD/ITunes releases, correct?

October 25, 2010 at 9:14 PM

The CW may have some influence, but take a look at The Big Bang Theory. Not available on iTunes, or CBS.com. I’m sure CBS would prefer differently.

October 25, 2010 at 9:05 PM

While I agree with your main point, I don’t think Life Unexpected is really a good example. It’s…not a good show. I liked the premise when I first heard about it, and I watched it for awhile. But I was forced to give up about three episodes ago after seeing the same storyline (essentially) rehashed for about the 80th time. Not to mention the fact that there are just no likable characters on that show. The most likable is Baze, but even he gets annoying after awhile.

Life Unexpected is struggling because it’s not a good show, not because people are too stupid to appreciate it.

October 25, 2010 at 10:13 PM

Cross777: I watch LUX, 90210, Gossip Girl, and One Tree Hill and don’t see LUX commercials very often. I do see some during OTh saying that it’s coming up next. But definitely not as many as you’re talking about. And if they’re showing the ads during Supernatural then they may be doing something wrong (or possibly trying to get new viewers) because I don’t think many of the same people who watch Supernatural would watch LUX. I’m sure there are some. But if they show a Supernatural commercial during LUX it’s not gonna make me tune in because I’m not into sci-fi stuff so people into sci-fi might not be into family dramas. I don’t know; I could be wrong.

Good article. I wish more people were watching LUX; it’s a great show!

October 26, 2010 at 1:08 AM

I’d like to add a point to the reasons, why a show isn’t watched. A good show can also fail, when it is picked up by the wrong network. You all know what I’m talking about. For me the prime example was “Defying Gravity”. You haven’t watched it?

I’m not surprised, because from the beginning FOX didn’t really know what to do with it. It started even before it aired. In the progress of dragging out the haggling over this international production, a possible sale to SciFi was screwed up, what would have had the audiance for it. So this little gem died quickly and quietly, because the network didn’t even try to promote it.

@D.W. West

Little inside information. Europeans knew for a long time that, when it comes to quality TV, the majority of US viewers are plain stupid. ;-) The supply of good US productions is dependend on you tuning in, so it is a little bit frustrating for us to watch rating of great shows slip until they’re cancelled.

So, nothing new to me.

October 26, 2010 at 1:21 AM

Oh, yeah, quite familiar with Defying Gravity. Loved the show, and I covered it here for CliqueClack. ABC did it a major injustice for the way it was treated … BUT, ABC isn’t the reason it failed. DG lost 35% of it’s (albeit small) audience from the premiere to the last aired episode. And that’s not even talking about the demo, where the performance was just as bad.

But yeah, good show that people didn’t connect to.

Because they’re stupid? Well, I said at the end of the post that it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

October 26, 2010 at 12:00 PM

No, on this one, I have to say they are just stupid. That was our show, dammit! Thank God for the Canadians who aired all of the filmed episodes. Not only are people stupid, American broadcasters suck ass for not doing the same as Canada. Jerks.

October 26, 2010 at 1:23 AM

I’m pretty sure Defying Gravity aired on ABC, many of us here were watching, and I personally loved it. Keith wrote a song about it.

http://cliqueclack.com/tv/2009/10/29/how-defying-gravity-would-have-progressed-straight-from-the-creator/

October 26, 2010 at 1:26 AM

I somehow knew while I was typing that West would beat me.

October 26, 2010 at 5:46 AM

Sorry for the mixup. When it comes to good shows being cancelled, my mind immediately goes to FOX. Some kind of firefly-trauma, I guess.

October 26, 2010 at 1:26 PM

PI watched LUX last season and I enjoyed it, but this year my daughter started kindergarten and also became old enough to join some of the programs at church, which means mommy has less time than ever to do anything, let alone watch tv. I have dropped more than half of the shows I watched last season, including LUX. This season, I watched the pilot of every new show once, and the only one that has earned a spot on my dvr so far is Terriers. Normally, I would have included more of them, but there just isn’t any time to watch them.

You say people are stupid. I say people are just BUSY!!!!!

October 27, 2010 at 1:27 AM

So people are stupid for not watching LUX?
I disagree. People are busy and they will pick the shows they want to watch. Yes, LUX is a nice show but nothing I must watch, so I stopped watching last year. By the way with this article, you don’t convince anybody to start watching the show.

People have different interests. I actually don’t watch any comedies, I prefer dramas and genre shows but that doesn’t mean I will watch every drama or genre show out there. I can only watch a certain amount of shows. So I will only pick the ones that manage to interest me the most and make me come back each week. It’s different for every show what makes me continue to watch but saying people are stupid for rejecting a show is stupid.

Take reality shows and competitions, why do people watch them? Because they provide entertainment in some form. I don’t want to watch Madmen every day, sometimes I long for something like Top Chef since I got a soft spot for cooking shows.

Shows with a big audience, usually are not the best show on TV but they manage to provide entertainment for a large group of people. Take Glee for example. The storytelling is horrible soemtimes but the songs are great. It’s like watching Sister Act on TV.

October 28, 2010 at 10:53 AM

My apologies if the tongue in cheek nature of the post wasn’t clear. Do I really think people are stupid (yes) for not watching LUX (no)?

The intent of this article wasn’t to get people to start watching the show, you’re right that I don’t spend one sentence trying to win people over. I was really just trying to have some fun with the original post (Which was obviously much further off base than I ever came in the range of being) and poke fun at the idea of good shows that can’t seem to put together an audience.

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