TV Bites With
by Neena Louise
Why is it that networks seem to think that slapping a "critically
acclaimed" label on a television series means anything at all to the
general viewing public? Whenever I hear the term "critically
acclaimed," I automatically think "it sucks, so that's the best thing
they can say about it." It's been proven time and time again - it does
not matter what the critics say when it comes to ratings (or box office
revenue or book sales). Considering critics often love TV shows that the public
shuns, I have to wonder why the networks think critics' opinions are so very
important that they have to tout them every chance they get.
It's a rare occasion when critics and the general viewing public agree. Cases in
point: The critically-panned Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, and WKRP
in Cincinnati were embraced by the public (craving witless escapist
nonsense, I suspect). The critics loved a whole slew of forgettable shows (so
forgettable I can't recall a single one) they deemed "intelligent" and
"witty" (read: "elitist" and "boring") that the
public despised. There are times when both critics and public agree -
though not always right away. Cheers, for example, premiered DEAD LAST in
the ratings, yet the critics raved. Eventually the public did, too, but I doubt
very much it had anything to do with what the critics had to say. There are, of
course, many times both critics and public despise a particular show (Cursed,
anyone?), but I doubt critics' opinions made any difference - bad is bad, and
anyone with half a brain can recognize garbage without a critic's opinion.
And it's not just television and movies that overuse critics' opinions. Ever
consider buying a book, wonder what it's about, and find only pages and pages of
critics' raves where a plot summary is supposed to be? I find that particularly
insulting: I will make up my own mind, thank you very much. I just want to know
what the book is about; I don't give a hoot what some critic has to say. The
constant reminders on television of critical acclaim for something that hasn't
even aired yet is no different.
Some critics don't really critique a show at all - they're the ones I have the
most trust in. They'll outline a plot, maybe poke fun at parts of it, relate
what's good about it, what's bad about it and give reasons why you may or may
not want to watch it. These are the types of critics networks should be seeking
- not the obscure or sellout ones that will laud anything if the price is right.
Television shows generally gain an audience through word-of-mouth. People might
watch a show once or twice just to satisfy their curiosity, but if it's a bad
show, it's a bad show and no amount of "critical acclaim" can save it.
Besides, with movie studios creating critics out of thin air, how can we believe
what any of them have to say in the first place? Sure, the vast majority of
critics are real people with real jobs at real media companies, but now that
fake critics have been exposed, can we really believe what we hear?
The answer is no.
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