Television during the summer was once a total bust. There was nothing new to watch, nothing good to watch… It was bleak.
But, believe it or not, some of the shows that are near and dear to this television junkie’s heart… debuted in the hot and hazy summer.
NBC’s Seinfeld, Fox’s American Idol, FX’s Nip Tuck, CBS’ Survivor, HBO’s Sex and the City, FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia… just to name a few…
And, maybe you’ve heard of HBO’s Entourage, HBO’s Oz, AMC’s Mad Men, HBO’s The Wire, MTV’s The Real World, or HBO’s Six Feet Under?
Hmm. How did this happen? How and why did these great shows, and others arguably as great, get shafted and get their inaugural airtime during the summer months when everybody, who is even slightly cool, has better things to do than watch television?
It’s simple really: TV competition has become a huge game changer.
As the article I link to below explains, summer used to be a time when the networks filled airtime with reruns, failed pilots and shows with no viable shot at a real future.
Sounds reasonable to me, but after awhile, they learned:
“Such a strategy only worked in the days of network domination, however. Fledgling broadcast networks like Fox in the early 1990s, and cable networks like HBO later in the decade, realized that they could attract more attention for their newer shows by airing them during the summer months, when there was little competition.
Over the past two decades, the summer season has seen an increasing amount of first-run programming, and several of those shows have turned out to be among the best that TV has ever given us.
Even some of the unwanted programs dumped in the summer months by the traditional big three networks over the years have turned out to be surprisingly great — and, in several cases, even more surprisingly long-lived.”*
And that’s how it happened! (But don’t get greedy). These shows, particularly the ones on the networks that have succeeded, are true diamonds in the rough (or they were at one time). They were like wonderful surprises, but not every summer will produce a “Seinfeld.” Obviously, these hit “summer” shows are rare.
No, I never thought I’d be calling “The Real World” a diamond in the rough, but back then, it was its own sort of game changer. It was ‘reality!’ It was programming on a network that was known for ‘music,’ and it aired repetitively to capture a fickle and sleepy audience of ‘kids’ who stayed up late and slept later. At the end of the day, it was edgy, seedy and filled with drama. “The Real World” was a whole new thing. Back then, a Kardashian was just a lawyer representing O.J. We can thank (or blame) “The Real World” for changing all that!
Here’s the thing: Summer doesn’t have to be lame from a television perspective. There is still something for everyone and there are still things that will be new to you… There might even be a few diamonds in the rough out there.
Until Next Time…