Network clings to teen scene

Thanks to Michelle for sending this in!

Network clings to teen scene
NY Daily News 5/17/00
Eric Mink

Coming off the worst season of its five-season existence, WB shows no signs of reconsidering its basic game plan: Young adult viewers are the Holy Grail; the way to get them is with shows that appeal, initially to teenage girls.

Of the six new shows WB is adding, for example, one is an ABC castoff: “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” Another, an hour-long drama scheduled for Thursdays, “Gilmore Girls,” follows the lives of a teenage girl and her teen-looking single mom.

A third, “Grosse Pointe actually spoofs the teenage/ high-school-angst dramas that are the meat-and-potatoes of the WB schedule.

The new shows join “Buffy,” which began life as a show about a teenage girl fighting horrible monsters; “Angel,” about Buffy’s monster-turned-good-guy boyfriend now out on his own; “Dawson’s Creek,” teens in a small town; “Charmed,” barely post-teenage sisters who discover they’re witches and then fight monsters; “Felicity,” or teenage girl goes to big city to grow up; “Popular,” about high school cliques; and “Roswell,” about teenage space aliens in a small New Mexico town.

What WB seems to unwilling or perhaps unable to consider is that there may be a limit to how many of these sorts of shows its target audience is inclined to watch, or even capable of watching regularly.

That’s not to suggest that they’re bad shows. “Buffy” can stand proud among network television’s best dramas, for example, and “Roswell” is a wonderfully surprising combination of sly coolness and honest emotion.

But the saturation potential becomes especially problematic when quality starts to slip. Both “Felicity” and “Dawson’s Creek,” for example, struggled with mediocre starts last season. Young viewers quickly sought alternatives. Both shows recovered creatively as their seasons wound down, but any network built on the loyalties of teens and young adults is constantly battling this group’s tendency to move on to the next hot thing.

There’s nothing in WB’s fall schedule that indicates any concern about this systemic dilemma.


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