.
Support Our Work File an FCC Complaint Movie Reviews Join Us Family Guide to Primetime Television Home
Parents Television Council - Because Our Children Are Watching

 

1%-5% of your purchase will help support the PTC.

TV Trends

Brought to you by the Parents Television Council


Take MyNetworkTV – Please!

BY CHRISTOPHER GILDEMEISTER

 

When the WB and UPN networks merged in 2006 and formed the new CW network, many stations which had previously been affiliated with one or the other of the previous networks were cast adrift. NewsCorp seized on the opportunity by offering those stations a new chance at affiliation by creating MyNetworkTV.

 

MyTV offers its affiliates a limited slate of shows, with programming for only two hours on weeknights and Saturdays, and none on Sundays. Yet, as NewsCorp has amply demonstrated with the Fox network, two hours’ worth of shows a night is sufficient. MyTV imitates Fox in another way, as well: it has consistently aimed at the lowest possible common denominator in its programming.

 

MyNetworkTV’s original prime-time format consisted of hour-long soap operas (called telenovelas, in imitation of the popular Latin American five-nights-per-week continued serial format). With titles like Desire, Saints & Sinners and Wicked Wicked Games, these shows offered MyTV’s viewers storylines slathered with sleazy sex and slap-fights.

 

When the network’s debut programming bombed – one estimate stated that only 0.7% of households in the U.S. watched MyTV’s shows -- the executives running MyTV decided to revamp the fledgling network’s schedule. As if an endless parade of trashy soaps wasn’t sufficiently degrading, the reworked MyNetworkTV was modeled on basic cable networks like Spike, and desperately tried to lure male viewers with a gut-wrenching mixture of brutal fight competitions and smutty peepshows.

 

With IFL Battleground, MyTV was the first network to bring mixed martial arts to broadcast TV. Promos featured the sound of a flat-line on a heart monitor, suggesting that competitors would be beaten to death and carried out of the ring on a stretcher. The premiere of this program did improve MyTV’s ratings: from 0.7% of U.S. viewers watching the telenovelas, ratings climbed to a whopping 0.8% watching the savage fight competitions. (In spite of this dismal showing, CBS has apparently decided that imitating MyNetworkTV with such fight competitions is an ideal way to garner an audience.)

 

Demonstrating that its appeal was not limited to fans of brutal street violence, MyTV also appealed to adolescent lust. In 2007, the network aired such seamy programs as  Britney Spears: A Pop Idol Exposed;  Anna Nicole Smith: A Centerfold Exposed  and its presumably different sequel Anna Nicole Smith: A Centerfold Revisited; and the back-to-back “beauty” contests Hawaiian Tropic International Beauty Pageant and Ujena Bikini Jam, both of which featured scantily-clad women thrusting out their rears and fondling their breasts while drooling hosts and cameramen leered. (Ujena Bikini Jam in particular degraded the women models, posing three contestants hugging while pressing their breasts together.) Yet MyTV still failed to attract viewers with its new format. It must have come as a shock to the executives running MyNetworkTV to find that prime-time audiences did not consider the Hooters Dream Girl Challenge must-see viewing.

 

Having failed with soap operas, street fights and sexploitation, MyNetworkTV now seeks refuge in raunchy reality shows. On Mondays, MyTV offers trashy, mind-numbing entertainment gossip on Celebrity Exposé. Tuesdays are devoted to Street Patrol and Jail, a pair of feeble Cops clones displaying the booking and incarceration of petty criminals. While Fox’s Cops shows the heroism and dedication of police officers, Street Patrol deals with such fearsome threats to public safety as teenagers using fake IDs to get into bars. Jail is, if anything, even worse. Not content with parading drunk drivers and pathetic drug addicts, on at least one episode Jail treated viewers to a largely approving peek at Las Vegas prostitutes brashly flaunting their career choices, with one hooker boasting that she makes $7000 in a weekend. The show’s sympathetic attitude was understandable, since MyNetworkTV has shown itself equally willing to prostitute its programming in search of ratings.

 

Fridays also play host to MyTV’s slate of sleazy reality shows. Meet My Parents (a thinly-veiled rip-off of MTV’s Parental Control – and what an inspiration for a prime-time program that is!) features bachelors trying to impress their potential date’s parents “through a series of revealing conversations.” The winner gets to spend a week in Hawaii with the lucky woman.  MyTV also demonstrates that it is an equal-opportunity exploiter with Decision House. This program proves that young singles are not the only ones who can be humiliated on nationwide TV; so can “couples whose relationships are on the verge of collapse.” After a week locked in a house with one another and constantly spied on by divorce lawyers and therapists, the troubled couple is forced to listen to a board of buttinskis telling them whether or not to stay together.

 

But the nadir of MyNetworkTV’s reality programming is Friday night’s Paradise Hotel 2. This smarmy reality show promotes mindless debauchery and a hopelessly shallow judgment of individuals based on their “hotness,” with barely-covered, sex-crazed twentysomethings paired with strangers and forced to sleep in the same bed together – when they aren’t busy lap dancing and binge drinking, of course. 

 

Perhaps realizing that their schedule is rife with repellent reality shows, the executives in charge of MyTV have now begun featuring scripted programming on Wednesday nights. In addition to reruns of the talented and entertaining (though definitely not child-friendly) comedy of In Living Color, this week the network begins rerunning UPN’s 2002 version of The Twilight Zone, the latest and definitely least iteration of the classic suspense series. The MyNetworkTV website boasts that the premiere episode features “a demonic pimp [who] terrorizes from beyond the grave!” (That muffled boom you just heard was the sound of Rod Serling’s body breaking the sound barrier as he whirls in his grave.)

 

The cracked zirconia in MyTV’s tarnished crown is its new program Under One Roof. Space prohibits an extended treatment of the program (though it should come as no surprise if Under One Roof appears in a future TV Trends column); but suffice it to say that the show stars former rap music buffoon (and current VH1 sex/reality franchise) Flavor Flav.  Flav plays a colorfully demented, sex-obsessed hoodlum and ex-con who comes to stay with his wealthy, snobbish brother. Hilarious hijinks supposedly ensue as Flav introduces his brother’s family to “street” elements like criminals and prostitutes. In one episode Flav refers to a transgendered friend, resulting in such Wildean wit as the following:      

          

Calvester:  “You like Abdullah, right?...Okay, now picture him with lipstick, a dress, and big boobies. How do you like him now?            

 

Friend:  “Damn!  Ain't malt liquor hard enough to keep down without that damn visual?”

 

In comparison with Under One Roof, demonic pimps begin to sound downright entertaining.

 

Thursdays and Saturdays on MyTV are usually devoted to third-rate theatrical movies, while on Sundays the network blesses America by running no programming at all. True, MyTV does offer the concert series Control Room Presents, and on rare occasions carries some clean and mildly entertaining fare, usually involving street and stage magic acts; but such programs are the exception, and pale into insignificance beside MyTV’s far more prevalent noxious programming.  With such alternately tedious and crassly exploitative fare, it is no wonder MyNetworkTV’s ratings are visible only through a microscope.

 

Yet perhaps it is unwise to count MyTV out just yet. While it is undeniable that today MyNetworkTV is the bottom-feeder of the broadcast networks, twenty years ago, few would have predicted that the then-new Fox network would become a success featuring tawdry, sex-obsessed programs like Women in Prison and Married with Children.


TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff.


 

Click Here to Comment on this Column

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

 

TV Trends Archive

 

  SPECIAL SPONSORS OF THE PTC:

HOME | ABOUT US | PRIVACY POLICY | PRESS ROOM | FAQs | CONTACT US

© 1998-2011 PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

JOIN US ON:          .

Parents Television Council, www.parentstv.org, PTC, Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting children against sex, violence and profanity in entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval, and Family Guide to Prime Time Television are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.