I just finished watching Monday night’s episode of Studio 60 after having found out last week that the show is going on indefinite hiatus this week because of low ratings.
The problem here is that the writing is too smart for the average television viewer and that’s a shame, because the writing is brilliant. In some ways, this was the same problem that The West Wing faced. What really irks me about this is that CSI: Miami had a better share last night. I’ve seen episodes of CSI Miami with vickyandnorm. We make fun of them. The writing is terrible. David Caruso couldn’t act himself out of a wet paper bag with a chainsaw and a flamethrower. And yet it’s Studio 60 that’s going to ultimately get the axe.
What does this say to writers (or those of us who aspire to be writers)–of any medium? Good writing does not appeal to the masses. People want to be entertained and do not want to have to think about what is entertaining them. Ultimately, we write because we enjoy to write and create stories, even if no one else enjoys what we do. Good writing lends an extra dimension to that. It is clear to me that the major networks don’t care much about the writing, just what gets the most viewers, and by definition, that has to be something that is “dumbed down”.
On a positive note, however, Battlestar Galactica, which is on a smaller network, but which also manages to have very good writing has already been renewed for a fourth season.
I liked last night’s episode of Studio 60 and I think the show was getting better and better. One thing that made me laugh was the lawyer from “Cage Whitney”. Fans of The West Wing will recognize that as the same (fictional?) law firm that Sam Seaborn used to work for.
Next week the show is being replaced by The Black Donnely’s. Goodbye Studio 60.