‘Must See TV’ is Gone, and it’s Never Coming Back

network-tv-blog

There’s a memorable sound bite from this year’s lauded pop-culture hit, The People vs. OJ Simpson, in which Courtney B. Vance’s remarkable portrayal of Johnnie Cochran implores us to “choose a side!” He says it with such disdain for indifference that it draws the definitive line for the rest of the series. You have to be on one side or the other and it’s a choice, not a compromise.

It’s an intense moment delivered by a momentous TV show. Scripted TV has never aimed higher to ignite a gamut of emotions than it does right now. The question is, does everyone want this? There’s certainly a particular set of viewers who still just wish to be entertained for a short period of time each evening. And then there are the viewers who want to immerse themselves in impressive, but more demanding storytelling. The networks draw the line with the content they provide and it’s up to you to choose a side. You see, there are two types of people in this world: People who like The Big Bang Theory, and people who don’t.

I do not like The Big Bang Theory. With so much compelling TV being made, I don’t understand how you could. I wanted to be fair about this, so in preparation of having a valid take of CBS’ biggest comedy I watched nearly 30 episodes the last year to make sure I “got it.”

…I got it.

It’s funny because they’re intellectual geniuses, but social imbeciles. What amazes me is this is not just the premise—it’s the working parts of every single joke made on the show. In the couple dozen episodes I watched I heard the same joke written differently every 40 seconds. It’s like playing peek-a-boo with a baby. Eventually the baby looks at you like, “alright, cut the shit!”

I’ll at least give CBS comedies this much credit: They know who they are. Of the big four networks, that’s been a rarity for most of the last decade, which is why we’ve seen an astonishing amount of TV shows come and quickly go. Starting next week the networks will deliver what used to be a very big deal: The rollout of their new fall TV lineups. More shows that lack personality on networks that lack identity. Peek-a-boo.

With today’s growing emporium for content, we don’t need the big networks anymore and I think they know this. They’re still bound to appease the advertisers who pay the bills and in return expect a mass audience. They’re in the business of making things bright and shiny because 100% of the population likes bright and shiny things. But the best dramas and even the best half-hour comedies seek other platforms that allow them to explore less polished subjects. The smudges are far more interesting.

The big networks are stuck making low risk bets on head-scratching programs. If it doesn’t work fast, they cut the shit.

We’re in an age of rampant cancellation. The misses are among the worst in history and the hits are fleeting. You can tell me that The Blacklist is a good show, but no it fucking isn’t. And while the compelling niche shows cater to a much smaller palate, their flavors are far more rewarding.

So as football settles back into our lives with the rest of fall, we’ve reached another ratings-driven TV cycle of attractive people providing cheap thrills, but rarely elevating to anything else. It’s the same pig in a different shade of lipstick.

If the big networks still plan on giving us more and more terrible television then I want to help them save their money and oh so much time. NBC, ABC, CBS—if you need new, heavily formulaic shows, consider single sourcing this task to me. Football may be your beacon, but allow me to stoke your trash fires.

Here is your new fall TV lineup, free of charge:

NBC

The Blackballs

From the creator of The Blacklist, another Kevin Spacey impersonator is paired with an impossibly beautiful FBI agent to get inside the already extremely predictable minds of the criminals they pursue. Together, with black trench coats and an unsettling amount of sexual tension, they solve crimes with laughable isolation from the rest of the bureau because “Let it go, Ramirez. I don’t care how hot you are, this case is dead!” But as they uncover evidence they’ll begin to realize their own agents are working against them. How will they solve crimes without the support of their own resources? My guess is pretty easily.

Chicago Public Library

The city’s largest public library ran by impossibly beautiful people in glasses discover the local mafia has been using the institution to peddle drugs throughout the city. If Librarians don’t like anything, it’s disruptive noise and books being full of cocaine.

Chicago Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Driving a car in Chicago is tough, and so are the impossibly beautiful people that license and register them. This group of feisty, but morally incorruptible licensing officers put the “able” in “miserable” day after day. Most BMV employees are uncongenial assholes surrounded by hard candy, but they’re not most BMV employees…they’re fucking beautiful.

If the Shoe Fits

Watch the latest failure to capture the workplace comedy magic of The Office and Parks and Rec. The true strength of those shows was relatable characters in relatable work environments, but we’ll continue to ignore this. Nope, it was probably all about the shenanigans. This time we give you three buffoons in their late 20’s—yeah, they’re handsome—working together at a mall Foot Locker because why the hell not? They’ll display an astronomical amount of sexism vying for the affection of their impossibly beautiful store manager, Kelly.

Law & Order: Violations and Fines

In the Criminal Justice system, impossibly beautiful people are represented by two separate but equally irritating groups: the traffic cops who investigate illegal parking, and the citizens who Facebook post their tickets believing their friends give a shit. These are their stories…DUN DUN.

Chicago Sewage and Waste

It’s a dirty job, but impossibly beautiful people have to do it.

Chicago Walgreens

Fuck it.

ABC

We’re the Tropes

An impossibly beautiful family wears Old Navy clothes and tackles family obstacles. We go through the tribulations of the doofus husband, the flawless wife, the gross son, and the blossoming teenage daughter who starts to date, driving Dad up a wall! You can bet they’ll be an episode about men not listening.

The Farm

Beautiful fucking people report to the highly classified Camp Peary, the CIA’s Virginia based boot camp for special agents. Wearing identical, but perfectly tailored CIA t-shirts and shorts, one among them is a home-grown terrorist hell-bent on exposing America’s secrets from the inside. Who is this unknown enemy likely to have sex with just about everyone there? We’ll certainly tease that it’s the sultry, but sobering woman with the thick Russian accent who speaks ill of Ronald Reagan and Black Friday shopping, but obviously we’ll wait until the series finale (they’ll never make it there) to reveal it’s the unsuspecting white guy. He ingeniously nails every aspect of American life and a career in the CIA, but they snuff him out after he mistakenly says his favorite team is the Minnesota Packers. You go to hell, you traitor.

Impropriety

From the 8th writer of Scandal, comes Impropriety. Offensively beautiful people use tension filled instrumental music in order to cover up what’s really going on…that the story and dialogue are pure shit. Only one of them has enough talent and magnetism to prove that a violin is disguising the terrible plot, but can she do it before she moves on to more meaningful roles?

Of Bishops and Rooks and Pawns

This is our annual attempt to piggyback the popularity of Game of Thrones, only without the writing, acting, imagination, nudity, and fans ruining the show on twitter. The story begins with Gallivant and his wife, Elephantiasis—two fuck you beautiful people with Orlando Bloom voices protecting their small kingdom in an ongoing power struggle with various other kingdoms differentiated by a green screen.

CBS

Laugh Track

A new comedy from the people that brought you literally everything else we do. What’s better than beautiful people delivering low hanging punchlines, but with poor rhythm and too much explanation? How about beautiful people delivering low hanging punchlines, but with poor rhythm and too much explanation followed by uproarious canned laughter. It’s comedy 101: People love jokes that tell you it’s a joke at the end.

PTA: Des Moines

Report cards, lesson plans, drop-off zones, MURDERRRRRR?  Hot teachers and beautiful parents work together to find a killer in a small Iowa suburb. Wondering why the police will barely be involved? Yeah, us too.

Secretary of the Treasury

America needs tough fiscal leadership, and who knew someone this fucking beautiful will be the one to give it to her. Catherine Zeta Jones stars as the Secretary of Treasury. With her perfect hindsight and flawless judgment, she’ll create a budget surplus and probably accomplish a bunch of other shit no Secretary of Treasury would ever have to do. Manage the economic stabilization fund after a global crisis? Easy. Take down Wall Street fat cats skirting their adherence to federal tax policies? She wrote the book. Be the lead field agent in a Chinese espionage mission for no understandable reason? Walk in the park. Make it home in time for dinner with her impossibly beautiful family? Now there’s a challenge.

DEA: Phoenix

This new series is sure to be…SIZZLING. And don’t miss it, because SOMEONE—WILL—DIE (that you don’t care about).

FOX

We’re the little brother, so we kind of just throw whatever we can at the wall and see what sticks. People don’t love our shows, but they definitely like our shows. We’re cool with it.

“Must See TV” is long gone. It’s either dead, or hiding in plain sight…so what are you doing for the game, Sunday?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s