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Bruno’s TV Journal: MTV and The True Art of The TV Block 

Photo Credit: MTV
Photo Credit: MTV

It’s almost impossible to put together a block of television that is successful from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (with the exclusion of Fox who ends at 10 p.m.) in today’s DVR/On Demand/Online driven world. Broadcast networks are the only networks that have consistent content during these time frames six days a week. Some of them put together three hour-long shows with similar themes and/or genres (Tuesday’s on CBS). Some of them put together four comedies in a row with an hour-long drama to cap off the night (Wednesday’s on ABC/Thursday’s on CBS). The other combination would be to sandwich two half hour sitcoms in between two hour-long dramas (Tuesday’s on ABC). There could be other combinations, but what I’m getting at here is the idea of the content being placed within these scheduling combinations and if they ultimately work.

I’m not going to get into a ratings analysis here or dissect which network puts together the right combination of shows (It’s obvious CBS does pretty well on the majority of the nights), but instead discuss the execution of pairing shows together with similar themes, subject matter and genre. You could look over at ABC on Wednesdays this past season and see that the combination of The Middle/Suburgatory/Modern Family/Mixology/Nashville is a decent night of television (though it won’t be come next season with Suburgatory and Mixology being cancelled). Now I would say the best pairing of those four comedies would be The Middle and Modern Family for their familial themes, but to maximize ABC’s viewership throughout the night you have to put a bridge in between them in Suburgatory, which doesn’t necessarily mesh well with either show, and because of that, is now gone. That’s one of the problems with network television — you have to fill the schedule while maximizing the hits that you have (Modern Family is a killer on this night and The Middle is a great lead off hitter).

The one thing that would make ABC Wednesdays a great night of comedy would be to scrap Suburgatory and Mixology (which they now have) and put The Goldbergs and a new family-themed series in their spots respectively. You could have a solid theme of family throughout the two hours; with The Middle/The Goldbergs pairing being a nice clean combination followed by Modern Family and whatever ABC decides to put after it. Something revolving around family would work. But then again I don’t work for ABC’s scheduling department.

Photo Credit: MTV
Photo Credit: MTV

That’s just one example of putting together shows that are similar. What the title of this piece exhibits is that MTV has put together a nice hour of television with its two high school driven comedies, Awkward. and Faking It. The former is currently in its fourth season, which began as an interesting high school sitcom about an unpopular 15 year old that gains attention when the student body mistakes an accident she has for a suicide attempt. The latter is about two best friends who soar to popularity when they come out as lesbians, even though they are in fact faking it. There’s the obvious high school setting that immediately pairs these two shows together nicely, but you add the fact that both shows tackle the themes of “fitting in” and “being popular” and you have a really coherent hour of television.

I could get into the idea that both shows travel in the same television universe, even if that’s not necessarily the case. Both share the humor as well as female driven characters who are trying to discover who they truly are before they go off to college. It sort of ticks me off that MTV hasn’t found a pairing for Awkward. before this, because the show has lost a bit of its luster since creator Lauren Iungerich left as showrunner after season three. Nonetheless, Faking It is a nice lead out to Awkward., which is still a popular attraction for MTV’s audience.


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