Choosing Shows To Review Presents Challenges

Twice this week TV shows that were considered for reviews here fell off the prospective blog list.

The reasons are a little hard to pin down, but they have something to do with a problem for a TV columnist that long ago did not exist.

Years ago, when TV channels were much fewer in number -- primarily the broadcast networks and cable (basic and pay) -- almost no show, especially on the broadcast nets, was what you would call a “niche” program.

TV shows cast a wide net, or at least they tried to. For this reason, they were worth taking a look at because, among other reasons, they were billboarded and promoted all over the place which meant that “everybody” had heard of them, more or less.



Another classification of TV shows that were worth writing about in the now-distant past were ones we used to describe as “talkers” -- the latest outrage on a reality show or the shattering of another taboo on a comedy or drama.

Today, there are so many shows coming and going in every content category that it presents a challenge to keep up with them all, much less single out a show for review based on its potential to attract the interest of a large audience or emerge as a show people talk about.

The two shows this week were one drama and one comedy. While previewing the first episodes of each of them, I bailed before finishing.

Why? It wasn’t that they were bad shows, but they just held little interest for me. 

Moreover, reviewing them would be an un-impactful exercise because people interested in their subject matter will find them on their streaming menus and watch them anyway.

To which the TV Blog says, in all sincerity: May they enjoy them to their hearts’ content. 

The two shows seemed designed for niche audiences. One was “The Other Black Girl,” a half-hour series that started streaming Wednesday on Hulu.

The Hulu media center set up for journalists has very little information about the show other than a brief synopsis and photos. Screeners were available on another site,

Without more to go on, I am uncertain how Hulu positions the show -- comedy or drama. Wikipedia positions it as a “comedy-drama mystery thriller,” which, if accurate, fails to pin down the show at all.

The show is about a young black woman named Nella who is the only African-American employed at a New York-based book publisher.

Thus, she is excited to find out that another young black woman, Hazel, has been hired by the company because then Nella might feel less alone at work.

But it turns out that “the other black girl” might not be interested in establishing a genuine friendship her. In fact, the new girl might turn out to be a ruthless competitor. 

All this action takes place in a workplace portrayed as discriminatory. The show is as much about race as it is about a rivalry between these two women of color.

Scripted shows with racial themes are all the rage today, but after a while, they begin to feel the same, despite the seriousness of the subject matter. Those who look for these kinds of shows now have another one.

The other show that I started to watch and then rejected was “Wilderness,” about a 30-ish married couple, Liv and Will (pictured above) who seem to be living the glamorous, good life in New York City -- right up until she learns that he is having an affair. The show premieres on Amazon Prime on Friday. 

Since I bailed out early, I had only the show’s prelaunch press material from which to form a mental picture of the show’s basic storyline.

After she learns about the affair, “heartbreak is swiftly followed by another emotion -- fury,” said a press release. “Revenge is her only option, and when Will proposes a trip around America’s epic National Parks to give their relationship a fresh start, she knows just the place …”

The description seems to imply that Liv’s only option here is to either torture or murder her husband. It also seems to imply that this is totally acceptable -- even empowering, you might say.

In the press release, the show’s creator, Marnie Dickens, put it this way: “ ‘Wilderness’ is pure, unadulterated fun, where our heroine Liv says the things you wish you had the guts to, does the things you can only fantasize about, and lives by her own increasingly outrageous set of rules.”

The niche audience here seems to be women -- possibly youngish women like Liv -- who have thought about taking revenge on the men in their lives, but for practical reasons, stopped short of torturing them or killing them.

To them, I say: By all means, enjoy the show and take all the unadulterated fun you can wring from it.

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