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October 7, 2015

Network viewership dropping? Nudity and swearing to the rescue!

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 8th 2008 3:25PM
Curb Your EnthusiasmWould you like to see more nudity and profanity on network television?

It's no secret that the networks are losing ground to the cable channels when it comes to original scripted programming, especially dramas. Just take a look at the Emmy nominations for Best Drama this year and you see that three of the six nominated are from cable: Mad Men, Damages, and Dexter). And the three that are from the networks are shows that have been a while and are (arguably) on the back nine when it comes to their life: Boston Legal, Lost, and House. While the network shows obviously get more viewers than cable, cable (and online) is the place to go for more creative content and buzz.

Wired's Epicenter blog has a piece about how the more free world of cable television is hurting network TV.

I don't really agree with Mad Men being a show that wouldn't fly on network television because of its content. From a creative/programming standpoint, sure, it's a show that probably couldn't make it on network and cable is the way to go. But I wouldn't lump it into shows such as The Sopranos, Deadwood, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It's a show with no nudity and the swears are something that are few and far between. And it still manages to be adult and sophisticated (which is the reason it wouldn't be a success on the big networks). There are many sitcoms on network TV that bleep swears or block out nudity, and sometimes that can be even funnier.

I think there's a place on television for shows that are in between Leave It To Beaver and The Sopranos. I mean, isn't that the world that most of us live in?

[via TV Tattle]

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I think the dichotomy between network and cable TV has less to do with clean vs dirty than it has to do with pandering vs catering. Networks need such high viewership to be profitable that they are petrified to scare off any potential viewer, so they try to pander to everyone, depriving their shows of any individuality, character, or backbone. Cable shows don't need such high ratings to be profitable, so they only try to cater to their own chosen audience, people who will like the show for what it is, and this allows them to stay stay true to their intent. Choose your audience and cater to them and they'll love you. Try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. That's the hard lesson the networks are learning, now that people have alternatives to just watching whatever the networks decide to feed them that day.

August 09 2008 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the major networks wouldn't be so quick to yank shows off the air and move them all over the schedule all the time their shows would have more viewers. Of course the ratings system is severely outdated and with it we'll never know with any certainty who is watching what. I only watch new shows on cable now. I'm waiting til year 3 to watch any major network shows then I'll catch up on dvd.

August 08 2008 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Network TV goes for the lowest common denominator. Cable networks can go for the niche.




August 08 2008 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't mind nudity and swearing as long as they are integral to the plot/character story line. If an F bomb is just thrown in there for the hell of it, then it's stupid. Mainly, I want to see ADULT, good well-written and acted drama. Most of what I watch is on cable. There are still some good dramas on network TV (Grey's, Boston Legal and couple of others), but most of the stuff worth watching is not on network. Network has become, I guess, family TV and I don't feel like having a bunch of kids dictate my viewing habits.

August 08 2008 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doug Nelson

The problem with broadcast TV is not the lack of nudity or swearing, but that the lack thereof serves as a reminder of how "safe" and bowdlerized broadcast TV has become. Nipples and f-words are just the tip of the forbidden iceberg.

August 08 2008 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isn't "Mad Men" struggling for viewers on AMC? There's no way it could attract a large enough audience to make it through even half a season on a major broadcast network.

August 08 2008 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i think the only problem would be the smoking. other than that, it could easily have been on nbc - although i'm glad its not.

August 08 2008 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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