Good News and Bad News

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news from the world of TV Land today.

First, the good news: according to Robert Seidman over at, Mad Men will definitely be renewed by AMC, barring some unforeseen ratings disaster. And why would AMC renew an incredibly expensive show that can’t even crack the Basic Cable Top 20 Ratings?

Well, two reasons: first, Mad Men is a darling of the critics. If the show wins even a handful of the 16 Emmy Awards it was nominated for, it will be a triumph for AMC, which would then inherit prestige it could never otherwise have had… especially since Mad Men (along with FX’s Damages) are the first two basic cable shows to ever be nominated for the Best Drama award.

But more than that, Mad Men gets what I like to call “30 Rock Ratings”. You may have noticed that there is little (if any) talk about canceling Tina Fey’s comedy, even though the show pulls down mediocre overall numbers. Part of this is because NBC management loves the show. Another part of it is that “industry insiders” also love the show. But the main reason 30 Rock stays on the air is that the show attracts an insanely wealthy demographic. In fact, among households earning $100,000 or more per year, 30 Rock actually ranks as the #2 show in America. As you might guess, advertisers cream over numbers like these, and upscale brands like BMW and Sub-Zero will line up around the block to advertise on 30 Rock. Mad Men is in almost the same boat: although less than 2 million people watch Mad Men every week, around 40% of those people are in households that earn $100,000 or more per year. So trust me: my favorite show isn’t going away any time soon.

But it appears as though another of my favorite (new) shows is going away, and that’s where the bad news comes in: it looks like Swingtown will not be renewed. Although CBS has not made any announcements about the show’s future, actor Grant Show has already shaved off his “porno mustache” and taken a role on Private Practice. This frankly isn’t much of a surprise, given the show’s ever-dwindling numbers. But at least we’ll have closure: according to Swingtown executive producer Alan Poul “[t]he season ends with a cliffhanger, but it’s also a completely satisfying ending. So, if we go forward, there are many new things that are set up to explore. And if we don’t go forward, there’s no feeling that we’ve been left with something incomplete.”

Sure, I’ll be sad that Swingtown is gone. Although I initially watched the show for its titillating premise, I’ve grown to care about the characters in what amounts to a conventional drama with a few peccadilloes thrown in for fun. Perhaps the show was a bad fit for CBS. It’s not perverted enough for HBO these days, and doesn’t seem to fit in with what Showtime’s doing these days. Maybe it would have worked better on FX or USA?

In any case, I’ve watched a lot of British TV in the past couple of years. Most British shows have 6-8 episodes per season, with a maximum of 3-4 seasons. Unlike American shows, which tend to go on and on and on over the years (Prison Break, I’m looking at you), most British shows have 32 episodes or less to tell a story, complete with a beginning, middle and end. And that’s that. And it’s kind of refreshing in a way. Instead of “I used to like that show, but gave up on it after season 13”, most British shows just end, and viewers move on to something else. So as long as Swingtown has a nice ending, I’ll be happy.

One Reply to “Good News and Bad News”

  1. Was poring back over your “Mad Men” posts and found this one. This is just to say, you are far from the only one who was disappointed by the demise of “Swingtown.” My husband and I both had gotten surprisingly drawn in, taking interest initially because Jack Davenport (from one of my husband’s all-time favorite shows, “Coupling”) was attached to it. Some of the acting AND plotting on that show was just fabulous. Initially, there were some rumors that maybe AMC could pick it up, which I think could’ve been great — but maybe its demographic wasn’t as well-to-do, or the network may have been concerned about being associated with two “period pieces” at a time. Either way, it was nearly as disappointing as the loss of “Pushing Daisies,” which also could have been a fabulous fit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.