It’s been said many times that television is currently in a Golden Age. Or more precisely, cable television and streaming services are in a Golden Age. Network television is, as the Talking Heads once put it, same as it ever was.
The networks are trying though. They’re rolling out anthologies, limited series, serialization, etc. Anything to break through the clutter in our modern world of 500 channels (plus unlimited websites). Most of these shows still involve a lawyer, cop or doctor — or some combination thereof — but at least networks have jumped into boundary pushing as well.
ABC, in particular, has not shied away from risk. Last development season they greenlit four series that have reached air. How to Get Away With Murder was a runaway success and would have won Rookie of the Year, if not for Empire‘s amazing run. The show, like most Shondaland productions, relies on soapy drama, a strong central performance by a female actress (Viola Davis) and strong social media presence.
Agent Carter received strong critical support, but disappointing ratings, and is now considered likely to be cancelled. The other two freshmen series, American Crime and Secrets & Lies, have also seen muted Nielsen responses. Though both shows are still considered on the bubble for renewal, only the latter realistically has a chance.
Where does that leave ABC? With maybe 3 – 4 openings for dramas. The slate looks incredibly diverse, so these should be fun. Shall we start…