Monday, September 25, 2006

Unlikely Voters and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

And this will be the last post on this subject for today.

One of the conceits of a Nader or, really, any candidate who doesn't have much of a chance of winning is that the voters who will put their guy in office are the unlikely voters, those people who have been turned off of the political process. The right kind of candidate could reach those people and pull them into the political process, where they would happily vote for the honest guy who really cares about them. This is all hypothetical and, in some cases, wishful thinking.

It's even more so when you apply it to Television.

Some people would like to believe that if you put on quality TV people who normally don't turn on their TVs will come a-runnin. There are two flaws with this theory. One is that there was plenty of quality TV before Studio 60 on the Air showed up. I admit Sketch Comedy hasn't been doing all that well lately, but a lot of other quite funny and entertaining and quality shows have showed up. Some of them make it - 24 for example, or The West Wing. Some of them don't, like Arrested development. But to say there's nothing good on is just not true.

I suspect it's never really been true. There have been good shows and bad shows at all times and places. When Shakespeare was putting on his plays he had to compete with Bear Baiting. Do we remember Shakespeare or do we remember the Bear Baiting?

Secondly, I think the sort of people you are imagining you can pull in with a Studio 60 probably are watching more TV than you think they are. And in some cases some real crap shows. Because intellectual snobs and discriminiting college kids want the same thing out of TV that everybody else wants. A little bit of comfort, a little bit of entertainment and a little bit of familiarity. That's why a guy who decries television as an intellectual wasteland will seek out old episodes of Hong Kong Phoey - it gives him what he wants.

That said, I don't think the future is entirely bleak for Studio 60 - it does have a precedent that neither Sports Night, nor the West Wing had - he's made it work. The West Wing made it, and people watched it, and got used to the way Sorkin writes. They aren't walking into this thing blind. And people who enjoyed the West Wing might well enjoy this new show, precisely because it tickles a nerve they want tickled. They are familiar with Sorkin now; they speak his language. So I hope that enough of those people will tune in and give Studio 60 a nice long run.

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