So Your TV Show Didn't Piss Off Anyone. Are You Off The Hook, Or Off The Air?

Here's the pitch: "There's a new TV show I'm selling. You're going to want to watch. It's going to piss off a lot of people and do some generally crazy stuff."

Sounds like a desperate call for attention. 

If it's MTV's "Jersey Shore," or a foul-mouthed rock star presenter at an awards show, or a loud, raw-language-speaking pundit on a news, sports, or music variety program, viewers can be tweaked to watch.

Yet a week ago CBS's Grammy Awards didn't have any controversial moments, and the show's ratings soared 35%, to their highest level in six years. Sure, no one took the microphone away from Taylor Swift this time. But maybe we were still expecting it to happen -- again. Anticipation sells as well.



The principals of a particular so-called parents-led TV pressure group sent a note to CBS about how honored it was concerning the quality of the show -- meaning that no one got out-of-line.

Television has always been a tough balance between commerce and art. But some believe CBS sold out the artistic integrity of musical artists by moving the Grammys  too much to the commercial side. One professor said the show this year was too much of a promotional, shilling exercise.

Creatively, TV networks always seem to push for the new, the different -- and yes, stuff that not everyone may not want to see.

For example, there's a new MTV scripted comedy/drama, which focuses on a pre-teen with an above-average bit of anatomy. TV's creative masters are obviously working overtime here.

If advertisers are to buy, if viewers want to watch, and as long as the network is upfront -- so to speak -- with content, who are we too say what's what?

Live television has that other edge -- a more difficult boundary to master.  Maybe that's why producers of Emmys, which lost its edge over the years, want the show to go all live next time around.

CBS aired the Super Bowl this past weekend. Six years ago it infamously profiled one of Janet Jackson's boobs by mistake.

Where will TV's next big unexpected, controversial -- and maybe high-rated -- moment come from?

2 comments about "So Your TV Show Didn't Piss Off Anyone. Are You Off The Hook, Or Off The Air?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., February 8, 2010 at 11:35 a.m.

    TV's next great, controversial moments are already happening - on the web. Broadcast is the realm of dancing with fat people and affiiliates who are still trying to figure out what "local" means when it doesn't have to do with a newscast or morning show. Meanwhile, on the internet, we have no FCC, no rules and we're having a helluva lot of fun.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, February 8, 2010 at 12:56 p.m.

    I don't see the analogy between a live awards show, where a tape delay can solve the problem of bad words, and a recorded reality show that has no such problems with fleeting expletives. (I do see a link between your verb choice and the tawdry language on Jersey Shore, though.)

Next story loading loading..