NBC's new G-rated show is family-friendly fun...and hopefully, will inspire change.
On March 8th, NBC premiered Little Big Shots, an Ellen Degeneres-produced and Steve Harvey-hosted reality show that focuses on the talents of children in hilariously fun fashion. That the show is rated TV-G is heartening. That it’s now NBC’s number one show on Sunday is a big sign that there’s plenty of money to be made in appealing to an all-audiences demographic, even though no broadcast network has done so since 2008.
Steve Harvey maintains a bright, spunky interaction with the various kids on stage that rarely, if ever, falls into awkwardness. The kids themselves are also very funny, and no doubt would appeal to children of all ages in a way that no parent could really fault, and will most likely find just as fun. The show opened very strong in the ratings, and has managed to maintain that strength for a couple of weeks, proving once again what programs like The Wiz and other live musicals had already shown – the value of G-rated material. The real question is, will this translate into NBC attempting to create a G-rated sitcom, something that is now the unicorn of network TV?
Probably not, or at least one isn’t cresting on the foreseeable horizon. It’s an interesting thought exercise, though, to wonder why not. After all, enough evidence has been given in the reality sphere to show that there’s at least an audience for it. There’s also the fact that major studios (Disney, Dreamworks Animation, etc.) have earned many pretty pennies creating similarly rated content for the big screen. So why hasn’t it happened?
Most likely it’s because of the risk involved in doing something new. Network television, as much as it might try to fashion itself as a real ground-breaking medium, is incredibly risk averse and at this point, there isn’t anything to compare a G-rated sitcom to. Basically, in their view it’d be a shot in the dark, and like many the kids that watch G-rated shows, nothing scares network executives like being alone in the dark. The truth is also that this dearth of similarly G-rated content means that there aren’t any showrunners/creators adept at creating it, leading to a vicious cycle that perpetuates a lack of truly family oriented programming.
Whatever the reason, it’s unlikely for now that NBC or any other network will make a G-rated sitcom anytime soon. Luckily, there’s Little Big Shots to watch in the meantime with your kids…and hopefully, the success of Little Big Shots will continue to create an environment that leads to change.