Why Your Network Sucks: NBC

Photo via Flicker/Mike Boswell

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 during mostly shit programming. We offer an unfiltered analysis of each broadcast network at this time of boundless spin.(With deepest apologies to Drew Magary’s impeccable Why Your Team Sucks format.)

See also: ABC, CBS, Fox, The CW

Your Network: NBC. The Peacock! Still chugging along after 90 years and a Zucker. Boy it was a little touch-and-go there for a while, wasn’t it? And now, of course, you’re at least partly responsible for 46.1 percent of the voting population losing its damn mind and putting a vaguely sentient sack of curdled Cheeto milk into the White House. Not just because you gave said sack a TV show for 14 seasons — technically 15, because he still gets an exec producer credit for this last one — but also by having your black lab of a late night host shit on the floor while licking his boots, and giving him another platform hosting another late night show. But hey, we all make mistakes. For example, just yesterday I accidentally started a war with North Korea by tweeting “Fuck me daddy” at Kim Jong-un.

Your Exec: Bob Greenblatt, still runnin’ the show, against the odds some gave him just a few years ago when we started seeing the kind of ratings dives that require scuba gear to properly fathom. Yet out of the four heads of entertainment that everyone was giving odds — look, no one said TV reporters were great conversationalists — Greenblatt’s the only one left standing. Rumors of Kevin Reilly’s ouster at Fox were flying at the Fox upfront party in 2014, and he bailed a couple weeks later. Paul Lee finally stopped sticking at ABC. CBS’ Nina Tassler decided she was over this noise and left Glenn Geller to have to handle questions about diversity at TCA.

Greenblatt’s job got a little easier this year, thanks to This Is Us, but NBC is only returning two of its comedies (the excellent The Good Place and Superstore), and though it may seem tempting, you can’t just fill your entire schedule up with Dick Wolf shows.

Greenblatt also just ensured every bugnuts — sorry, passionate fan out there will now carry hope in their heart even after their show is canceled, by abruptly changing course and picking up a 10-episode second season of Timeless after three days of fan outcry convinced him to make a deal with Sony. So blame him for the thousands of wasted dollars on human kidneys sent to your network’s offices after you cancel some supernatural medical drama starring the Irish kid from One Direction. (That said, Timeless ought to make a good summer run.)

Your Biggest Returning Show: The Voice, yet again, though it’s showing signs of wear. That’s what happens when you rely so heavily upon one show that you have to run it twice a year and also no one ever cares about who actually wins the competition.

Meanwhile, any show that had success behind The Voice on Mondays has cratered immediately after being moved or having to air new episodes without its lead-in, Thursday and Wednesday nights are just above being completely fractional, and if they didn’t have Sunday Night Football they’d probably be in even worse shape than ABC.

Your Biggest New Show: Oh my god. NBC has a genuine* hit in This Is Us, Dan Fogelman’s time-staggered family drama that spawned a billion pieces about How In Touch With America it is and actually forced me to mute the hashtag on Twitter because being in touch with your emotions is great, but when it comes to how many times you cried at some scene written to elicit that exact response, the field in which my fucks are grown lies fallow. Similarly: “ALL THE FEELS” is a phrase that inspires near the same amount of dread in my lower torso as “President Donald Trump.”

*Well, for this day and age.

But anyway, good on NBC for recognizing the potential in this show it doesn’t own (20th Century Fox TV is the studio). It brought NBC its first Golden Globe drama nominations in years! Greenblatt and his team have smartly decided to use the show as a cornerstone at 9 p.m. on Thursdays in the fall, which might be the only way to salvage the night. (The Blacklist, the former Great Thursday Hope, was always doomed to crater outside The Voice; This Is Us has proven much more resilient.) And it could possibly get a boost from a post-Super Bowl airing a la Grey’s Anatomy in 2006. The Super Bowl generally doesn’t do shit for shows that air right after, but hey, weirder things have happened.

They’ve also already renewed the damn thing for two seasons and are giving it a Christmas special, which is how you know they’ll fuck it up.

Some of the other new stuff from the 2016–17 season, like Chicago Waste Management, was the kind of generally reliable programming that won’t win you any Emmys but will bring in slightly more “younger” viewers than a whole bunch of the competition on the broadcast guide.

Your Most Promising Pilot: Judging pilots based on loglines, or even the sizzle reels paraded in front of drooling ad buyers, is maybe not a fair shake. However, A.P. Bio stars Glenn Howerton and Patton Oswalt, and comes from Mike O’Brien and Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker, so the odds are pretty good that it won’t be complete trash: “A hilariously cynical Ivy League professor loses out on his dream job and goes to work as a high school biology teacher. There, he imposes his unorthodox teaching style and uses the kids to plot out revenge on those who wronged him.”

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