Throughout the reading by Richard Butsch (Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer: Why Television Keeps Re-creating the White Male Working-Class Buffoon), it occurred to me that this topic has been brought up in our class discussions before. It would seem logically that with so many channels to choose from on T.V., there would also be a wide variety of shows to watch. Sadly, that is not the case. "The simple need to make a profit is a structural constraint that affects content" (576) meaning that because all parties are trying to make the most profit, they need to appeal and/or target the largest audience with one big boom! The large networks are unwilling to try anything new because they're too dependent on high ratings in order to to increase their revenues from advertisements. As a business venture, it is safer to avoid risk (putting out a new show is very risky! The audience might not respond well to it and then all the time, cost, and effort going into the production would be lost), and thus this is why we have so many shows that are similar to one another because they have been proven to be successful. Production companies would only want to re-create already successful sitcoms because those are the ones the big networks would most likely choose. Big networks would choose those shows because advertisers know that a large audience will be watching the show and their advertisement has the most optimal potential to reach that large audience. It's really all a cycle, you see. One that seems almost impossible to break free of. And of course, the shows need to be "built around affluent characters for whom consuming is not problematic" to show the lifestyle that the audience could have, and therefor by their products to achieve that status/class/lifestyle. Shows that showcase "working class buffoons" are made to poke fun at. Many of the audience are able to relate to that show a little bit more so in theory, it might make them feel a little better about their life by being able to say "Hey, my life isn't really that bad; at least I'm not Homer!" But I'm still a little puzzled as to why shows like this are still very successful, even though they don't fit the target audience for advertisers who would be willing to splurge. Or maybe they just show ads that have to do more with household goods or family cars? Random thoughts now I'm just ranting so I will leave this be.
Discussion Question: Is there any way we could bring in more diverse and new topics/shows to television? And if so, how could we bring this about successfully?