A TV show can fail to attract or sustain an audience for any number of reasons.
Normally, it’s pretty evident; bad ideas and bad execution are still as rampant throughout the entertainment industry as ever. But now with over hundreds of channels to choose from and the rise of Internet entertainment to boot, viewers can afford to be extra-picky when it comes to whom they give their time.
As such, it truly can take only one bad apple to spoil the entire bunch. Regardless of how solid of a foundation for the show or how likable the rest of the cast may be, if one cast member causes too much drama, has a very different idea for the show than what is intended, or just plain doesn’t feel like doing the job they are getting paid big bucks for, that’s all it takes to convince a big chunk of their viewership to change the channel.
Now before anybody gets all panicky and/or uptight, let it be understood that nobody is perfect, nobody can be loved by everyone, and trying to please everyone ultimately winds up in pleasing no one. But in the case of the ten examples provided, it’s pretty well evident how they are weighing their respective shows down by either alienating old viewers or preventing new ones from giving it a shot in the first place.
Sometimes, that damage can be remedied. Other times, the only solution is a kick to the curb. But either way, these people aren’t helping, and if anyone tells the networks otherwise, don’t believe it.
Shark Tank: Kevin O’Leary
Networks and producers often think that, if they want people to watch their shows, they need to get people talking.
Lost in that train of thought is the fact that this isn’t true if people are talking about the reasons they’ll never watch it.
This is the effect Kevin O’Leary has had on Shark Tank. Ideally, this program would be viewed as a celebration of American innovation and the spirit of entrepreneurship. Instead, it’s best known as a showcase for cutthroat investors offering poison deals, with one particularly wormy little man being especially known for throwing a tantrum and declaring people dead to him if they don’t accept his crap proposals.
O’Leary rounds out the bottom of this list (which is otherwise out of order) for two reasons. First, he’s far from the only shark with incredibly bad behavior (Daymond John, who has repeatedly threatened to withdraw offers if they even so much as listened to what the other investors had to offer, almost got the nod instead), and he has a lot more invested into the show than just publicity and a paycheck. But his antics are such a distraction, both to the entrepreneurs and to the other investors, that ABC should really consider a revision of the format to keep him in line.
What Shark Tank really needs is for the entrepreneurs to be able to declare Kevin O’Leary dead to them first. Maybe give the sharks a spinning chair like the ones on The Voice, and if either the shark or the entrepreneur hits their button, the chair spins around and their microphone goes dead.
The Biggest Loser: Jillian Michaels
Obesity continues to be a rising epidemic in America, though it would likely be an even bigger problem were it not for The Biggest Loser. This is one of the few TV shows in existence that America actually needs.
What isn’t needed is a trainer best known for screaming and constantly yelling at her team members to give up and die.
But Michaels’ constant attitude problem is the least of her faults. She also revels in the gameplay aspects that fellow trainers Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince frequently express disgust for. While they focus primarily on the fitness and rehabilitation of their contestants — on getting them healthy and equipping them to stay that way — Michaels’ only interest has always been in making sure the winner is on her team, and devil may care what happens to the rest of them along the way.
During the most recent season, Michaels, as trainer for the white team, lost three team members in the first two weeks, and by the end of Week 4 was done to just one contestant for the entire season. Yet it never once occurred to her to think that maybe she had done something wrong.
She didn’t seem to care either. After all, her very last team member did go on to put another win on her belt.
And if her explosive temper, confused priorities and complete disregard for others are not liability enough, consider this: Jillian Michaels has already quit The Biggest Loser twice.
American Idol: Ryan Seacrest
American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe once credited the success of American Idol to Ryan Seacrest by citing the latter’s ability to work without direction.
“Ryan Seacrest drives the entire program,” said Lythgoe. “He’s not on an earpiece or anything. He’s not beholden to anybody. He controls the show.”
Which, ironically, is precisely the problem. Seacrest doesn’t answer to anyone, which means he’s free to be himself. And make no mistake, Ryan Seacrest is a grade-A douche. What should have been a great venue for fresh, undiscovered talent was marred, season after season, by Seacrest’s antics.
He first began by feuding with judge Simon Cowell, with Seacrest unnecessarily jabbing at Cowell without provocation 99% of the time. Later, after Cowell’s departure, Seacrest tried once to start a feud with Randy Jackson.
Jackson apparently decided he’d had enough of that and avoided offering actual criticism for the remainder of the season, which was instead marred by what could only be described as desperate cries for attention in the absence of a convenient antagonist.
Seacrest’s ability to work without direction would only be an asset if he could stand to momentarily not be the center of attention. Based on the way he has behaved throughout the entirety of his hosting career, that does not appear to be the case.
The Talk: Sharon Osbourne
The Food Network had every right to sever their ties to Paula Deen after she admitted to using racial slurs, but if a cable channel that people only watch when there’s nothing else on has too high standards to tolerate someone using a slur off-camera in what was later described as a moment of weakness, a major network like CBS shouldn’t have had any tolerance for anyone who publicly advocated in favor of castration.
In July 2011, Osbourne and some of her fellow “The Talk” panelists were criticized for their conduct when discussing the story of Catherine Kieu, who was found guilty in April of this year of torture and aggravated mayhem for cutting off her husband’s penis and throwing it in the garbage disposal.
Osbourne described Kieu’s actions as “quite fabulous.”
The Voice: Blake Shelton
It’s hard to argue with success, even when that success is part of the reason everything else around him is waning.
As the coach of Team Blake, Blake Shelton has seen a member of his team win it all in the last three of four seasons. One would think that would mean he’d actually be irreplaceable, but the thing about Shelton is that he’s not really a good judge of talent. He just has a formula for success.
It works like this:
- Point out that you were the winner of the last # seasons and convince the top talents that they should join his team if they want to win.
- Eliminate all of the top talents during the Rivals session in favor of bland country singers since country is the only thing he knows.
- Accumulate a monopoly of the votes from the Heartland and anyone else that shares his belief that country is the only music that counts.
- Repeat Step #1 during the next season.
In this way, Shelton’s own personal success comes at a great expense to The Voice as a whole. With only four seasons behind it, the expectation is already that the contest is completely unwinnable except by a country singer.
This in turn is part of a chicken/egg scenario where the above mentioned perspective of repetition discourages other viewers from getting invested in The Voice, much less getting off the couch and plugging in a vote, which in turn gives the country vote an even bigger presence and further contributes to the show’s stagnation.
There’s no easy solution, but the best place to start would be to get the word out to all future contestants: Unless you’re a country singer, stay the hell away from Team Blake.
The Chew: Mario Batali
There’s nothing wrong with Mario Batali in terms of his conduct or his personality, but take a good long look at him in that picture and ask yourself: When you go out to a restaurant, is that really the kind of guy you want to imagine preparing your dinner?
This isn’t a problem unique unto Batali himself — many of his co-hosts also seem to occasionally not understand that it’s a turn-off to see a bunch of filthy-looking people hosting a cooking show. But Batali is the sweaty guy with a full beard and orange Crocs. When you think of this problem, he’s easily the first face that comes to mind.
I understand what Batali’s mode of thought about this must be: When you work with messy ingredients and flaming hot stoves, looking pretty isn’t exactly a priority. But there’s a world of difference between looking pretty and looking hygienic, and the least he and the rest of The Chew crew could do is try to make an effort.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show: Sophia Grace & Rosie
Ellen? I know you love minting new celebrities and that these kids always put a smile on your face.
But you need to understand: For most people, they’re only cute for the first five seconds. After that, the way they get excited over everything and yell every single word that comes out of them begins to rapidly wear on everyone else around them.
It was tolerable when everybody thought they were just going to be a one-time guest who would get to meet Nicki Minaj and then go home. It wasn’t until they became Ellen’s red carpet correspondents and the nightmare was truly realized.
I can’t be the only one who routinely watched Ellen but stopped after one too many assaults on his eardrums in a single week.
Ellen, we beg of you: Stop promoting these two. At least until they have mastered the art of the indoor voice.
The Apprentice: Donald Trump
Some of you young’uns are going to be very surprised to learn that The Apprentice wasn’t always a massive train wreck. In fact, it used to be pretty respectable.
That was all before Donald Trump, the man in charge of it all, decided that professionalism and integrity were less important than melodrama. Long before the Celebrity shenanigans began, Trump established a very clear pattern of obvious favoritism towards villains and idiots, presumably because he felt they were better for the show’s ratings (which he brags about constantly).
By the time the celebrities arrived on the scene, it had devolved into the full-on train wreck that we know today. Now, instead of being an insight into the art of the deal or even a venue to raise funds and awareness for the various charities they support, The Celebrity Apprentice is best known as the final venue for fauxlebrities, has-bins and Gary Busey.
America’s Got Talent: Howie Mandel
What’s worse than being completely oblivious to the fact that you’ve turned your once-respectable show into an utter train wreck? How about attempting to do so deliberately.
This is what Howie Mandel has done, year after year, as a judge on America’s Got Talent. Since Season 5, every painfully bad act that has ever been forced onto the stage of America’s Got Talent has been with Mandel refusing to take no for an answer all the way.
And he obviously does know how to make informed decisions, as he has consistently demonstrated with his wildcard picks. It’s only when he feels he has the capacity to hide behind the label of a group decision that utter nonsense like Aaralyn & Izzy or Tummy Talk ever makes the cut.
Yet, in spite of being unwilling to take full responsibility for them, he’s also unable to concede that putting them through was a mistake and winds up responding to their live train wrecks with ridiculously exaggerated displays of approval, leaving absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s the one constantly to blame for whatever nightmare the AGT audience just endured.
It’s the ultimate insult for a man who has one of the greatest jobs in the world and yet is deeply invested in doing as terrible a job at it as humanly possible continue to be brought back to do it again year after year, and it speaks a great deal about AGT’s core foundation that it has survived to its eighth season even with one of its judges doing everything in his power to try to kill it.
Jeopardy: Alex Trebek
For many, Jeopardy isn’t just a game show. It’s the game show. Jeopardy dates all the way back to the 70s and, since then, has gone largely unchanged.
And the only testament to its greatness greater than how little has changed is the fact that it has survived since the 80s with a smug little twerp reading off the questions.
Few game show hosts ever respond positively to a contestant not knowing the answer, and none revel in being able to rub it in nearly as much as Trebek. Only Anne Robinson of The Weakest Link could compare, and that was a character she played — not her actual personality.
One would think the beeping sound that signifies time on a question has run out is enough to make Trebek orgasm.
Trebek even berated Watson, the IBM computer, for missing questions even though he’d previously told the audience at home that Watson couldn’t hear anything. He also recently endured a harsh amount of criticism for failing to contain this enthusiasm even during Kids Week on Jeopardy.
It’s understood that Jeopardy’s success is very much rooted in its consistency — on recognizing the winning formula for what it is and never tampering with it. But that formula shouldn’t be considered to include having a host who always feels smug and superior because he has the answer cards in front of him.