How To Ruin a TV Show

It's been a couple of very, very busy weeks and all I can say is thank various divinities for vitamin B12 shots. Amazing conveyors of energy in a syringe! However, even with this miraculous bit of boost, I am now so toasted that I'm crispy and plan to spend the next couple of days drooling in front of the TV. Which brings me to the topic of today's post, namely what these silly networks do to shows I like, causing me to have to walk away.

Starve Your Female Characters
Castle, along with Dancing with the Stars, remains one of the reasons I now am quite fond of Mondays. However, lately they seem to be withholding food from Beckett (Stana Katic). She's always been slim, but this season she's nothing but cheekbones. Every time I see her, I want to give her a sandwich. Castle (Nathan Filion), on the other hand, seems to have "bulked up" - perhaps every pound she's lost gets moved to him? Moderation, show!

Glamourize Your Female Characters out of Proportion to Their Profession
Okay, so I get that when you're on TV, a person’s style goes up several levels, it's part of the game. However, women don't, as a rule, where those ridiculous platform stilettos to work, unless that work involves a pole (and I'm not referring to firefighters). Should they, in some weird parallel world, wear mile-high heels to work, they would likely not wear them at a crime scene (Body of Proof’s Megan)

You should also not modelize you female protagonist to excess. Vast tumbled tangles of model hair makes it harder to accept the character as say, a homicide detective (Castle’s Beckett). Wouldn’t all that hair get in the way in an altercation with a suspect?

Please also consider downgrading the Sex Kitten (Office Version) look just a tad. Women with serious, responsible and/or powerful occupations tend not to paint on their clothes before they leave home. Besides, how are you supposed to move in such things? At say, crime scenes (Body of Proof, Megan and Kate).

Expect Me to Cheer for a Sociopath
Pretending your show iss about justice, when in reality it's more like sociopathic vigilantism makes it hard to tune in. Having one of your "heroes" use a big truck to ram a car just because the car contains the "bad guy" and then heroically striding away from the scene in a way that clearly communicates we are supposed to stand up and cheer does not make me want to stand up and cheer (Person of Interest). In fact such a repeatedly cavalier attitude towards injury and possible death just makes me stop watching. It's no longer an interesting show that asks interesting questions, but merely violence porn.

Keep Actors on the Show who Can’t Act
Let me rephrase that: whose acting ability is in such sharp contrast to everyone else's that should you get into the show, enjoying a nice little break from reality, you get pulled out of it with a sharp, screeching noise every time they're on screen (Body off Proof’s Sonja Sohn and I didn’t think she could act much on The Wire: The Complete Series, either)

Change Your Female Protagonist to Mollify Those who can’t handle a Three-Dimensional and/or Complicated Woman (Body of Proof)
When the premise of your show is to follow the life of your female protagonist and you make her difficult, abrasive, at times unlikable, with difficulty in relationships, working through some pretty heavy stuff (sort of like House, except a woman and in a somewhat different situation), STAY WITH IT! Don’t change horses in midstream, taking away everything that made her unique, three-dimensional and interesting to watch. 

And while I'm at it, don’t change the show to an ensemble approach, don't force the humour (because it it is not working) and don't, please don't, have your previously crotchety female protagonist now walking around with a weird smirk whenever she's right about something to the point where the viewer suspects the script specifying "Megan walks away, a smug and satisfied smirk on her face." Please try to remember, show, that you pitched yourself primarily to women at a certain age and intelligence. When you neuter the show, your audience will leave.

In other words, and I say this to all shows out there, please use the following guidelines:
  • Assume your audience has a brain
  • If your male boss feels threatened by your protagonist, you’re on to something. Millions of smart, grown-up women will watch.
  • Cut the cast that don’t contribute to the story
  • Make your anti-hero somewhat likeable and/or your villains more despicable
  • Feed your female cast. Let me repeat that: FEED YOUR FEMALE CAST!
  • Have good hair, not model hair
  • Throw out the stripper heels for any character who is not an exotic dancer
  • Just in case you missed it: assume your audience has a brain