TV Broke My Heart. Again.

I hate AMC.

Yesterday I learned that yet another outstanding new show - Rubicon - got canceled after one season. Not for nothing, they fared better than Lone Star, a critically acclaimed show introduced in Fall 2010, which was canceled after the airing of the second episode. And, as with Kings before them, I grieve. I grieve hard.

To add insult to injury, "Bleep" My Dad Says is still alive and kicking - shitty laugh track and all. Even the all-powerful Shatner couldn't elevate it out of the toilet after the network defanged the original concept.

 Now, let's be honest. I love me some bad television. I'm not immune to the lure of a badly acted crime drama (read: NCIS) or a flat-out train wreck (read: Hoarders.) But, for chrissake, when the television landscape is primarily inhabited by low-brow, cheap-to-produce dreck, it makes a media fanatic lose heart. And, when the truly original, innovative, well-written, thinking-man's shows are summarily dismissed with nary a look in the rear-view mirror, the fanatic's heart breaks.

Yes. Yes. Yes. There are plenty of examples of great tv that have been renewed or even saved-by-the-power-of-fandom. Yes. Yes. Yes. I can fill my evenings with smart, well-written shows like Dexter and Fringe and the new Sherlock. But it doesn't take away the sting when an amazing show is ripped away from me before I'm ready to let it go.

Now, I'm happy to be corrected, so speak up if you have information that I don't, but I'm pretty sure that the reason that great shows get canceled is because the system is intrinsically flawed. It's not because the show isn't good. It's not because people aren't watching it (or won't, if given half a chance.) It's because the industry is still basing their decisions on an outdated ratings system. "If X number of people watch this show, then we can sell ad space on the show for $Y. Therefore the show is a success."

Anyone who can immediately see the flaw in this logic, please raise your hand...

The system hasn't caught up with technology. Who the hell watches tv in real time anymore? And, honestly, who watches commercials? I'm going to make the argument that really smart people who watch tv are probably more likely than the average bear to own a DVR or watch their shows online or own Boxee or AppleTV. As a result, their viewing habits are being discounted - or left uncounted, as it were. How is this fair? So, we get to be stuck with Teen Mom and Jersey Shore because the industry can't catch up?

Of course, this argument is completely two-dimensional. I know that there are myriad factors as to why a tv show gets canceled. But I think that this is as good an excuse as any. I mean, any other theory would need to examine the fact that we, culturally, might actually prefer Jersey Shore. What kind of people does that make us? Then we can get into the philosophical argument surrounding the television industry's responsibility to provide us with smart entertainment as opposed to mind-numbing crap. Should we expect them to actually CARE about our minds? Or should they just be allowed to exist in a bubble of capitalist greed without a care in the world?

Okay...that rant exhausted me and I'm not even sure I made a cogent argument. I think I'll go home and see what's on the Tivo. And not be counted.

- Alex


  1. Theoretically, they're getting better at counting TiVos et al.

    But, if you're not watching commercials, then to the bean counters' minds, you may as well not be watching the show, so I'm sure they apply a discount on those viewers. NBC's offerings on Charter on Demand have commercials, and you're not allowed to fast-forward, rewind or pause any portion of the 'cast.

  2. Hi, I'm 12 years old. What is a commercial?

  3. @Sean - I will counter-argue that, if the industry were on the ball, they'd realize that I'm watching the show but not the commercials and adjust accordingly. I will give them credit for moving forward in this area - they've gotten MUCH better and more innovative at in-show "advertising" via product placement. In the end, the TV industry isn't any worse than most industries today. It's damn-near impossible to keep up with advancements in technology.

    @Anonymous - LOL! Point taken.

  4. Are you watching all of the commercials on shows you DVR? Or do you fast forward through them? If you fast forward through them, you're viewership is meaningless to a TV network as you are effectively getting a "free" showing - they could care less whether you watch the show or not. My guess is most people (like me) fast forward through commercials.

  5. Hand raised... I also liked Rubicon. AMC has been doing some great original programming.