NO, I DON’T GET IT EITHER: The clammy hand of primetime oblivion is hovering over the heads of what seems like an unprecedented number of shows right now, at the end of a TV season that, thanks to the writers’ strike, is nearing the end of its Long March. The technical term for these doubtful aspirants to next fall’s primetime schedule is “on the bubble,” as a Los Angeles Times story reminds us and the reasons for their status is as varied as the shows themselves.
Everything from veterans like Boston Legal and The Unit to perpetual stragglers to shows like How I Met Your Mother, who you’d think would have proven their audience loyalty, are apparently skating on the surface of said bubble, but the show most likely to get the chop is apparently CW’s Reaper.
The comedy, about a slacker doofus who discovers that he’s been contracted to do the Devil’s dirty work, debuted to good reviews but struggled for an audience. Thanks to the mid-season rupture in production and shortened seasons, Reaper is hardly the only show that has struggled to build momentum, but if this was the only factor in the renewal of shows, network logic might look like it resides more firmly in the realm of logic.
As Scott Collins of the Times points out, shows that have pulled smaller numbers got their season renewals weeks ago, such as CW’s Gossip Girl, whose renewal was announced last week with a sexy, controversial ad campaign that obviously wasn’t pulled together over a weekend. Collins writes that the CW is eager to back the show that “does noticeably better among the advertiser-beloved cohort of viewers ages 18 to 34,” adding almost unnecessarily that “the CW is trying to mine more of the urbane-teen mode.” Who, except for CBS and TCM, isn’t these days?
“I think a lot of networks are struggling with just the changing viewership" of TV, Michele Fazekas, the executive producer and co-creator of Reaper, told Collins. Which is a nice way of saying “the suits think everyone has as much money to spend as their kids.”
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