With new scripted dramas such as “The Beautiful Life,” “Melrose Place,” and “Vampire Diaries,” the CW may have finally found the niche audience they’ve been searching for since the network conception in 2006.
Now add the nets returning buzzed about shows, “90210” and “Gossip Girl,” and then their veterans, “Supernatural,” “Smallville,” “One Tree Hill,” and “America’s Next Top Model,” the net has been able to narrow down on the “female 18-34 audience” that Dawn Ostroff has repeatedly mentioned. But I feel many people are wondering why Ostroff feels that the entire network should only focus on female demographics? The net does contain male targeting programming: “Smallville” (which will most likely end next season) and Supernatural (which is suppose to end next season), but that’s it. “Reaper” which usually received more viewers (though lower demos in 18-34 and 18-49) than “Gossip Girl” or “90210,” (and probably had half the advertising), was recently canceled after two seasons. The show received close to the same critical acclaim and buzz as “Gossip Girl” too, but I guess the cast wasn’t sexy enough to continue with. That being said, there are still male audiences watching CW shows like “Gossip Girl” or “America’s Next Top Model,” but the female demos are the ones the CW tout the next day during their press releases.
And not only does the network seem to be excluding men, but minority audiences do not seem to be a concern either. “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Game” were also canceled this past season and those shows were primarily targeted towards African-American audiences. And the racial diversity of the new and returning shows is nothing to brag about either (though this is problem with most broadcast networks, not just The CW). Though I do give props for “90210” having a black male lead character, especially compared to the other CW dramas and how little diversity the original series had. Now, I’m African-American and the shows I watch usually do not depend on what race the cast members are: “Arrested Development” is my favorite comedy of all time. Period. And that series has a predominantly white cast, but it does get tiring sometimes watching television shows and not seeing anyone that looks like you. And in my opinion, African-American audiences should not resort to watching a channel like BET which only perpetuates negative stereotypes. Dawn Ostroff might as well say they’re targeting “white females 18-34.” I also find it interesting that this is Ostroff’s focus, especially being the former president of UPN which use to heavily target African-American audiences. And of course, I am not just talking about African-American audiences, but more CW shows should include characters of other ethnic and religious backgrounds because the more diverse ensemble cast a show has, the more likely someone will watch (look at “Lost,” “Heroes,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” or “24”).
Another issue I have with the CW targeting “females” is the kind of woman they’re targeting; not to knock the quality of “Gossip Girl” or “90210” but too many times you see women portrayed as catty, bitchy, vengeful, slutty, and any other word you’d use to describe Paris Hilton. Where are the smart, witty, likable, female characters that audiences learned to love from “Veronica Mars,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” or “Dawson’s Creek?”
With all this being said, I still think The CW will do well next season (for their own standards at least). They’ve found three new shows that seem to be pretty buzzed about and their network has flow from Monday to Thursday night (while I get “Smallville” airing on Fridays, with a show that usually brings in a large audience, it seems to me it would have made sense to air a new drama after it, or even… I don’t know… “Reaper”… or repeats of a new drama, instead of “America’s Next Top Model” encores, which never ever seem to escape the schedule).
In a best case scenario in which all the new CW shows do well and the net decides to end “Smallville” or “One Tree Hill” or “Supernatural” or a mixture of the three, I hope that the net decides to develop new shows that target not just men, but people of all backgrounds. That way the network could become a destination for ALL young audiences across America instead of the ones who want to be on “My Super Sweet Sixteen.”