The Curse of the Small Network - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

The Curse of the Small Network

October 28, 2005 by  

Let me ask you this. Would Lost, The West Wing, or even Desperate Housewives get the same attention and critical acclaim if they weren’t on one of the big networks? I mean, if each of these shows were picked up exactly as they exist today…same timeslot, same cast, same scripts – everything, would they succeed on The UPN or The WB? I would hope so but I just don’t know.

The reason I ask is because I continue to be amazed at the lack of respect for Everwood. This is a great show. The stories, writing, and especially the acting are superb. I haven’t seen a drama in years that captures the dynamic of a dysfunctional family and community in such a real and true way. Yet this show and its actors are constantly overlooked in terms of awards. Is it because Everwood is on the WB? Perhaps. Unfortunately, Everwood has good company in the category of shows that are critically lauded and overlooked at awards time.

Gilmore Girls, and its star Lauren Graham, are perennially overlooked when awards season comes around. Always a favorite of critics who believe she “should” be nominated for (and win) an Emmy, Graham has yet to take home the little golden statue. And I’m afraid that there is another Lauren Graham on the horizon, and her name is Kristen Bell. The breakout star of Veronica Mars has the gravitas to go up against anyone in the best actress category, but will her home on The UPN hurt her chances at Emmy time? Until the recent success of Desperate Housewives and its stars, I blamed the lack of an Emmy consideration for these actresses on the genre. Like Housewives, and countless other new shows, Gilmore Girls & Veronica Mars, are a mixed breed – comedy and drama. However, it seems that the genre wasn’t the problem…so what is it?

The well deserved Emmy win of Arrested Development, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has shown that low viewer ship doesn’t mean low quality. Just because people don’t watch a show doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. So why are some high quality shows consistently overlooked? I have to believe that critics don’t take shows on networks like The WB and UPN seriously. So I think it’s time for The WB and UPN to figure out how to move pass this injustice and start getting their shows and their actors the awards they deserve. And start with Everwood because it doesn’t get much better than that.

Academy – find out how to deal with the “dramedy”. Nothing in life is all comedy or all drama, and more and more our TV shows are starting to reflect that. Hell, no one would put Grey’s Anatomy in the comedy category, but I laugh more during that show than I did in a full season of watching Joey. You need to recognize and honor this shift and find a home for these new hybrid shows.

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8 Responses to “The Curse of the Small Network”

  1. Ernie on October 28th, 2005 1:02 pm

    Hmm… In my humble opinion I think the reason that shows like Everwood or any of the WB shows don’t get much attention is due to the very conservative stance they take on just about anything. Granted it’s not as white bread as 7th Heaven… but it’s close. Moreover, while you mention that you have not seen any other show capture the dynamic of a dysfunctional family and community in such a real and true way, the fact is that unless you’re from some wholesome middle of nowhere town what Everwood shows isn’t dysfunctional by a long shot. You want dysfunctional? Try Six Feet Under. there’s a reason the entire cast of that show won a collective Emmy. If ever there was superb acting, writing and overall originality Six Feet Under excelled at all of these. I would recommend you check out the first season (on DVD from Blockbuster or NetFlix) and give it a shot. The show is not for the timid. But then again, stories about dysfuntional families shouldn’t be.

  2. Give me my Remote on October 28th, 2005 1:36 pm

    Thanks for your post. You make some great points. I might disagree about Everwood being almost as white break as 7th Heaven, but I think I understand what you were trying to say. I haven’t seen Six Feet Under but I’ve heard good things, and I’ll try to check it out some time.

  3. fatback on October 28th, 2005 3:58 pm

    I agree with ernie to a certain extent. Alhthough all the shows you mentions are less conservative than a lot of ‘Big Network’ Shows. I mean we will never have to endure “A very Special Episode” of Everwood. These show have some decidedly racy elements. Vmars for example, has sexually active high schoolers, incest, drug use and lots of hot ‘teenaged girls’. Were the show to actually be cast with teenagers, I think the story would be different…but I digress. I think the cult following enjoyed by these shows ( and others like Buffy and Angel) is specifically because they are not as popular with the mainstream crowd. People latch on to them like their own special find that only the ‘cool’ kids can appreciate. Normally, when a show that starts out as an underground hit gets mainstream acceptance, it jumps the shark right away. Case in point: The X-files. Breaks my heart, still.

  4. CJ on October 28th, 2005 3:59 pm

    I agree completely with everything you said in your post. Everwood, GG and VM are as good as any other show on television, and the three shows are collectively overlooked because they are on the WB and UPN.

    I also disagree with the previous poster that Everwood is all that “conservative.” I wonder how much he/she has watched the show, but it’s not all that conservative, at least compared to Seventh Heaven and that ilk. Teens in Everwood have sex and drink and do all sorts of things that normal teens do. But all the issues are handled in a very thoughtful and intelligent manner and it’s a great show.

    Here’s my prediction: One day soon Kristen Bell is going to be a huge movie star and winning all sorts of awards and the Emmy voters will be embarrassed they ignored her the entire time she was acting her heart out on VM. That girl is simply amazing.

  5. Scooter on October 28th, 2005 7:56 pm

    I think that age also has something to do with this too as all of your looked-over shows have a primarily younger cast and thinking back, even shows on the big 4 with younger cast tend to get looked-over at award time too. Plus looking at the nominations on cable shows such as Monk and The Shield, I really think that its not about how big your network is, it’s the age of the actors and target audience.

    Scooter McGavin’s 9th Green

  6. Anonymous on October 29th, 2005 12:42 am

    That *might* explain the lack of awards for these shows, but I’m not buying it. Amber Tamblyn got plenty of notice for her work playing a teen on Joan of Arcadia, and The Wonder Years and even little Fred Savage got nominations up the wazoo back in the day.

    Plus, Everwood is truly an intergenerational drama, and it even features a senior citizen romance. GG is pretty intergenerational also and revolves around three generations of the Gilmore family. The grandparents are more directly involved in the storylines than any other show in recent memory.

    VM is the only one of the three that can be called a “teen” oriented show, and oddly enough, it has the darkest and most “adult” themes around. It definitely pushes the envelope sometimes, despite the fact that the main character is in high school.

    So I think the reason that these three shows are overlooked is purely the bias against the WB and UPN. Those two networks are still not taken very seriously in the industry for producing “quality” shows. Sad.

  7. Anonymous on October 30th, 2005 2:37 pm

    Veronica Mars is truly the best show on TV right now, it’s too bad it gets overlooked because it’s on UPN!

  8. Anonymous on October 30th, 2005 2:44 pm

    Gilmore Girls has gotten Emmy nominations. Just not recently.