by Mike Buskill
TV has been capturing the eye of audiences since the late 1940’s and with so many different ways to get access to shows today, be it through a cable company or streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, TV shows show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. There are literally thousands of shows out there, and while some have stood the test of time and held on to their audience for well over 10 seasons, like Supernatural, The Simpsons, and Doctor Who, others fell flat after only a season or two. So what constitutes a “good” TV show. What is it that keeps a show from flatlining and losing the interest of the audience?
Arguably the two biggest factors in making a TV show a hit is having good characters and the ability to change the formula of a show just enough to keep it interesting without losing the original magic of the show. Good characters will keep an audience tuned in because they feel like they know the characters; they feel a connection to them. Good characters need proper development and they should grow as the series progresses. No one wants to see a character make the same mistakes multiple times because they should have learned from them. This humanizes the character and makes them feel more relatable to the audience. Characters need these flaws, or else they can feel untouchable. You never worry about them and the danger element is lost.
Changing the formula of a show is tricky. You need to keep it fresh, but you don’t want to
alienate the audience you already have. Doctor Who is a series that has mastered this through the regeneration effect. Every few seasons someone new takes the lead and brings new life to the show, a chance to see how someone else handles the character, how varied the personality of the character is. Yet, the feel of the show and the overall atmosphere of it stays familiar. You still feel like you’re watching the same show.
When a show fails to deliver on these two things, you start to lose interest. No one wants to root for a hero that constantly makes the same mistakes and never feels like they’ve changed, and even having the best characters can’t save the show if the formula gets old. You watch the show to be entertained, but when you’ve seen an episode that follows the exact same plot line with different characters a few times, you get bored. You look for other shows to watch that will pull you out of that boredom.
So what shows have captivated you? What shows have you kept up with over multiple seasons and still want to see more? What shows fell flat for you? Let me know in the comments.
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