Why Your Network Sucks: ABC

Photo via Flickr/Eva Van Ostade

It’s Upfront Week, when the broadcast networks trot out their fall schedules while begging advertisers to pour billions of dollars into marketing their shitty products and movies on their mostly shit programming. We offer an unfiltered analysis of each broadcast network at this time of monumental spin.With deepest apologies to Drew Magary’s impeccable Why Your Team Sucks format.

See also: CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW

Your Network: ABC, a.k.a. Shondaland Central. Boy howdy, though, this has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season for you guys. The comedies are… okay, sort of. But did you piss on a bust of William S. Paley to bring this kind of calamity upon your dramas? One could argue you’re in last place among the Big Four because your only real primetime sports now are the NBA Finals (which are played outside of the traditional TV season) and college football. But your big claim to fame used to be all the younger female viewers you brought in, and they’re abandoning ship. Now, you’ve clearly got some kind of This Is Us envy, because you’re starting to go a little broader. [Update: Oh good, now you’re rebooting Roseanne. I know ABC people have Twitter because they keep shrieking about how “social” their shows are, so they have to know that they are in for some serious shit. Or maybe this is all a calculated move to have a show on their air the President can angrily tweet about. Oh god.]

Your Exec: Channing Dungey, who, yes, is the sister of Francie from Alias. Dungey had already been riding herd on the drama side of things for years, but now she’s responsible for everything, replacing Severely British Man Paul Lee, who described shows as “sticky” but also gave us Galavant, which was fun. This is Dungey’s first development season that has been completely hers as Top Lady, and, uh. Well, we’ll get to the pilots later.

Your Biggest Returning Show: Modern Family and… Grey’s Anatomy? Yes, still. This is why ABC gave Modern Family a double renewal even though 20th Fox TV is the studio, and will keep Grey’s on the air until the nuclear holocaust incinerates us all, because nothing else on its schedule even comes close.

ABC’s “TGIT” lineup looks like what happens when rising sea levels finally hit coastal forests and the salt shock leaves everything dead. Grey’s Anatomy, now in its 500th season, has proven to be the only thing that can even remotely withstand the damage; it’s averaging a 2.1 in the demo (as is Modern Family), nearly 150% over Scandal (1.5). My god, Scandal; it’s a mercy they’re putting you out of your misery after next season. And How to Get Away With Murder, saddled with a mortifying non-Shondaland lead-in during the fall (Generic Soapy Title), vomited up all the viewers and goodwill it won in previous seasons, falling to a 1.3 in the demo — saved from falling further by Scandal taking the place of Generic Soapy Title.

Also, it turns out Americans aren’t super into Issues TV, criterati hype machine be damned (When We Rise, Season 3 of American Crime, even Fox’s Shots Fired).

Your Biggest New Show: Um. Speechless? Speechless has ended up averaging a 1.6 in the 18–49 demo. ABC’s new dramas, for the most part, shit the bed with a quickness not seen since… Well, the 2013–14 season, when the network went through three shows for a single timeslot (the nuked, salted, cursed-by-a-woods-witch Tuesday 10 p.m. slot). President Kiefer started out promisingly, dipped prodigiously, but still does pretty well for a 10 p.m. series, with a 1.3 average in the demo.

Your Most Promising Pilot: These all sound terrible, including and especially Deception, which was also a short-lived NBC series a mere four years ago. (ABC’s show is about the FBI’s first consulting “illusionist”?) The Gospel According to Kevin might not be completely terrible because it stars Jason Ritter, but they’re already recasting Cristela Alonzo’s role, which is a drag.

And then, Jesus, this Inhumans thing. It’s another Marvel show, and their way of getting people to write about it is by making its premiere something you have to go to an IMAX theater to watch, for the price of your firstborn, as some sort of “genius” marketing scheme. I don’t really know what about the current populist wave of virulent anti-rich-person hatred told ABC it was a good idea to allow IMAX to charge idiot nerds $20 a head to see the first two episodes of what will probably be yet another middling entrant into the TV superhero genre (see: Agents of Fuck Your Overpunctuation), but when your big idea for squeezing more money from your ad-hating audience is making them shell out for something they can watch for free in their living rooms a few weeks later, you might want to spend more time brainstorming.

And yeah, you’re bringing back American Idol. But NBC is trolling you mad hard with the hiring on Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson to coach on The Voice. Look, it’ll probably do better than everything else you’ve picked up for this season, so it’s a smart move! Or at the very least not catastrophically stupid. Buena suerte.

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