Why Your Network Sucks: CBS
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.
Your Network: CBS. The Eye! The Tiffany Network! The one the other networks all make fun of for skewing so old! And also because their broad-ass programming tends to be pretty “eh.” Really: What was the last CBS show you really cared about watching? Elementary? The Good Wife? Legions of people watch NCIS and The Big Bang Theory every week, and hey, that’s a choice every American should be free to make, but Christ, it’s all so boring, even if CBS does find a way to make piles of money off this shit. (CBS makes most of its ad deals based on the slightly older 25–54 demographic, which is smart because only Olds watch TV anyway. If they were really smart, they’d find a way to sell advertisers on the 40–70 demo.)
A small digression on demographics: Young people are terrible. I’m a young person, so I know this for a fact, because I’m typing this with one hand while the other carries dry granola from the box into my gaping, disgusting maw. The granola was on sale, milk was not, and I hate to dirty a dish anyway for something as pedestrian as cereal. And so I just feed it to myself, literally hand-to-mouth, like some sort of lower primate. We are trash, we are extremely price-sensitive unless we’re being bankrolled by idiot parents, and your enormously fucking stupid ads only work on enormously fucking stupid people and advertising trade reporters. Old people are also terrible, but in different ways. They are more likely to buy your dumb thing or see your dumb movie, because some of them are not being squeezed quite as tightly by the vise of late capitalism.
Anyway. You attract larger numbers of viewers on the whole because you give America what it wants: Sexless nerd minstrelsy and martial murder investigations.
Your Exec: Les Moonves, a shark dressed in a human suit, is the CEO of CBS Corp., but as Broadcast’s Last Big Believer, he has his hands in a lot of stuff most CEOs wouldn’t bother thinking about. Glenn Geller is the guy nominally in charge of CBS’ primetime programming, after Nina Tassler decided there’s no need to continue to deal with the hassle of running a broadcast network, and he’s very into reality TV. Moonves, meantime, says CBS has managed to entice almost a million and a half people to fork over $6 a month or more just to stream the network’s stuff through CBS All Access. We deserve this world.
Your Biggest Returning Show: The Big Bang Theory (18–49 demo), NCIS (total viewers). TBBT is so big and bangin’ — did you hear the Big Nerds finally banged in Season 9 — that CBS not only gave the Warner Bros.-produced show a two-season renewal, it will also air a series about Little Sheldon, to the delight of several middle-aged women I have spoken to in small towns. Of course, unlike the universe itself, Big Bang began contracting a couple seasons ago; same with NCIS.
They’re still the biggest draws on broadcast overall, and you know what, fine. CBS loves to throw Live+∞ numbers at everyone, but in their case it’s more like the guy with a perfectly fine-sized dick who feels the need to talk about being a grower. It’s fine. You don’t need to do this. Take the W.
Your Biggest New Show: Kevin Can Wait (18–49 demo), Bull (total viewers). Bull was always going to draw a big crowd because it stars Your Mom’s Favorite Actor Michael Weatherly playing a version of Your Mom’s Third-Favorite Daytime Host Dr. Phil. Ditto Kevin Can Wait, the comedy that saw the reunion of actor and network no one except Kevin James’ agent really gave a shit about.
Your new dramas, aside from Bull, though… Woof. Speaking ill of Training Day feels kind of shitty because god damnit, poor Bill Paxton is gone, but his show bombed right out of the gate, even in total viewers. Same with Pure Genius, and Doubt,* and Hunted… Oh, Hunted was a reality show? Whatever. The dramas were all fractional in the demo and well under 5 million total viewers. The comedies weren’t much better, given that they were all propped up by The Big Bang Theory in some way.
*Doubt placed second in this year’s Most Annoying Cancellation Storyline contest, beat out at the last second by the asinine “Last Man Standing was canceled because Tim Allen is conservative” bleating of certain outlets. You had people claiming Doubt shouldn’t have been canceled because it was the first broadcast show to have a trans woman in the main cast; people claiming no one was watching because it had a trans woman in the main cast; people claiming CBS didn’t market it correctly because it had a trans woman in the main cast. The facts are: The numbers were abysmal because it was a mediocre show at 10 p.m. starring Katherine Heigl (sorry!), it was purely a business decision, and pretty much everyone who tut-tuts “identity politics” is a straight white guy who doesn’t constantly have to think about what streets he can safely walk down.
Your Most Promising Pilot: It’s CBS. Tell your mom to check out S.W.A.T. with Shemar Moore, and Another Navy SEAL Show starring The Guy From Bones, and get ready for her to call you in the fall telling you about these great new shows she’s watching, have you heard of them?