Even television aficionados can experience a certain level of frustration during the fall season when all of the new TV shows are launched. While there’s always the hope that something riveting and unique is going to air, it seems as if each new crop is a bare variation from the one before it; the title and some of the faces change, but all too often, the premise does not, and viewers are left with no new television shows, just ones that have been renovated and tweaked a bit. Here are ten kinds of television shows that I have had more than my fill of in recent years.
- Competition Reality Shows – Whether the contestants are competing for the title of best singer, best model, best dancer or best-at-losing-weight, the number of competition reality shows on network television is disheartening. The low cost of production and large number of auditioning hopefuls make these shows a favorite of execs, which has led to a flooding of the market.
- Medical Dramas – Though there are a handful of medical dramas that are well-written vehicles for talented actors, there are far too many of them on television. In the last decade, it seems as if the only settings for dramatic shows are hospitals or police stations, which leads me to the next item on the list…
- Crime Procedurals – The original CSI and Law & Order shows were groundbreaking and entertaining. As ratings for these innovative shows soared, the number of spin-offs began to steadily increase as well. Like making copies of copies, the quality quickly began to suffer in the duplicated shows, and there are now dozens of variations on the same four franchises.
- Dramas That Focus on a Love Triangle – The CW is notorious for relying on the love triangle trope to drive their shows. One Tree Hill, The Vampire Diaries and the new 90210 have relied on the same sort of variation to drive multiple seasons, while newer offerings like Hart of Dixie take up that mantle from the pilot episode.
- Reality Dating – Much like the CW’s contribution to love-triangle dramas, VH1 has made a name for themselves in the reality dating show niche. The mess began with a relatively innocent show chronicling the unlikely love affair between Public Enemy hype-man Flavor Flav and aging sex-symbol Brigitte Neilsen, which sprung up during the filming of The Surreal Life; upon the dissolution of their romance, VH1 execs created a competition reality dating show to help him find a new mate. Flavor of Love ran for multiple seasons, spawning spin-offs like Rock of Love, Daisy of Love and Charm School.
- “Quirky” Comedies – When network execs attempt to connect with young, hip audiences, their go-to method is the “Quirky Comedy” approach. Usually starring a wide-eyed twenty-something ingénue of the indie-rock persuasion and chronicling her “zany antics,” these shows almost inevitably fall flat with the target audience.
- “Day in the Life” Reality Shows – From the obnoxious-youth offerings of MTV, such as Jersey Shore, Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant to the obnoxious attempts to make everyday occupations exciting like Pawn Stars and Storage Wars, there are more “day in the life” reality shows than scripted ones in modern TV lineups.
- Teen Prime-Time Soaps – Though there are a few stand-outs in the prime-time teen soap arena, the vast majority are rehashed versions of one another. Recycling the same pregnancy scare/infidelity/backstabbing girlfriend plot lines, these shows quickly become interchangeable.
- Reboots – If I never see another “gritty, modernized reboot” of a classic television show again, I’ll be happy. The pillaging of fond childhood memories has become par for the television course in recent years, and has yet to yield a show that could hold a candle to its namesake.
- Film Spin-Offs – When mediocre films become television shows, the result is almost always a single, miserable season. Similar to the reboots of classic shows, the film spin-off is another symptom of the failing creativity and play-it-safe mentality pervading modern television.
Okay, that’s my list. Are you with me on these or do you really think this is the best we can do for entertainment these days?