The CW: Ho-Hum Shows, Seemingly All For Young Women

The CW is off to a slow, revealing start: Do those initials stand for Conventional Wisdom?

It would work better if it got more young women 18-34 and 12-24 to watch its shows. Should it market itself with a stronger emphasis in that direction?  Should the network offer up a little push, like The CW: Clever Women Welcomed or The CW: The Circumspect Women Network.

Lifetime tried the same trick with a much bolder marketing line: Television for Women. That network never really had a breakout hit until this summer with "Army Wives" -- all after it abandoned its Television For Women moniker.

Of course it's really all about the shows. CW's new "Gossip Girl" -- the just-average-so-far show that the network has built much of its new season on -- seems so close to the feel of Fox's "The O.C." or even MTV's "The Hills" that perhaps young women are sniffing copycat.

TV networks and shows -- like relationships -- need mystery. Spell it out and viewers can be bored; keep too much in limbo, and they'll wind up scratching their heads.



Strangely, the CW's main competition may not be the usual suspects. Not MTV, not even Fox. Maybe it's ABC -- a network that also caters to young women, some who are in CW's wheelhouse. Are potential CW young women watching "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," and "Brothers & Sisters" rather than "Gossip Girl" or "Life Is Wild"?

CW still hasn't found its "Buffy" yet -- a cool show that hit the right temperature among young viewers. Dawn Ostroff, president of entertainment for CW, says it can take a long time to build a young-women-targeted show.  CW obviously feels assured "Gossip Girl" will be one of them, giving the show a full season order.

While we pass the time, the CW might also want some young men as well from two other rookie shows -- "Aliens in America" and "Reaper."  While we look for a clearer understanding of the network's trajectory, call it the Cautiously Waiting network.

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