What’s Missing on Primetime TV?

This is the time of year when networks are hearing pitches for next season and greenlighting scripts based on that. There a few interesting ideas that have emerged (at this incredibly early juncture) and it’s way too premature to even guess what next season might look like as many of these won’t even be greenlit to pilot. However one thing is clear- networks are banking on many familiar ideas like a TRUE LIES remake, a new HULK. I get it. It’s hard enough to get people to watch TV live these days, so having a concept they are already familiar with makes promotion and marketing easier etc. But let’s face it, two feature films, one with the acclaimed Ang Lee directing couldn’t make THE HULK a hit.

I will say this, this new season, as we all know,  is one of the most mediocre in memory and even the sure things like a “re-invention” of Hawaii 5-0 are hardly blowing up (though solid). What are the biggest hits on TV? Umm they are last years big new hits, namely GLEE and MODERN FAMILY. Hmmm so the last 2 new shows that have hit in a big way, were not remakes, or re-imaginings, rather they were fresh, well executed concepts from very talented creative people like Ryan Murphy and Levitan/Lloyd. I still believe that the next big hit on TV won’t be a pre sold concept but rather a fresh unique  story, basically something that’s not currently on TV. In that spirit here are a few ideas I’d love to see the networks turn into TV shows of the future:

Interracial family Drama:

A family drama that’s multi cultural. How interesting would it be to see a drama where for example,  the Dad is Jewish and his wife is African-American. Not only is this a reflection of real life for many but it would be something we don’t see on TV at all. Think of all the stories that could come from said premise. There’s many conflicts in all of our extended families.  Add in people of different faiths, races and cultures and there’s bound to be areas writers could mine great stories that examine issues of race, faith and human behavior. I’d love to see Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick tackle this. Whatever they do, it’s always honest, and real and compelling.

Different Procedural Leads:

There are so many procedurals on tv. Here’s a novel idea: Why not one where the lead just happens to be gay. It’s not like most of the CBS procedurals really delve into the personal lives of their characters anyway. It would be refreshing where the guy that is solving the crime of the week is gay. On those kind of procedurals the crime of the week is the star of the show and it would just be more realistic if the people solving them weren’t always heterosexual males. It seems the Brits know how to do stuff like this better as Torchwood has a bisexual lead and he’s über popular. There’s a glut of procedurals on TV, this would add a different, more realistic touch to one.

Less Anti Heroes, More Heroes:

Anti-heroes have been the rage for years. Tony Soprano, Tommy Gavin, Greg House, Don Draper-the more compelling leads on TV the last few years have not been the warm and fuzzy type. It’s completely understandable. They are more realistic, they inspire really interesting stories and life is really more grey than black and white. But, maybe it’s time to be inspired again. I’d love to see a show where there’s a teacher who goes above and beyond for their students. I had a teacher in 12th grade who in his first year as a teacher accomplished more than most. He was a pseudo guidance counselor and got his students to learn by actually caring about them. What a concept! He got more out of his students scholastically than any other teachers the three years prior. Might make for an interesting series.

Different Workplace Settings:

Maybe it’s time for a new setting for a workplace comedy. Maybe the place “where everybody knows your name” is a synagogue or a post office or the DMV.

Where’s Norman Lear when you need him?

ABC last year developed a sitcom based on the book FUNNY IN FARSI about an Iranian family. Unfortunately it wasn’t greenlit to series. It would be nice to see family sitcoms based on other cultures rather than the standard white family. Isn’t it time for a family sitcom where there are 3 kids whose parents consist of two dads or two moms. It’s reality for many, so why aren’t we seeing more of it on TV? There’s such a lack of understanding in our country these days. Maybe if people saw more depictions of other cultures and families on their TV screens every week, we’d all see that we have more in common than we don’t.

It’s interesting that Norman Lear was making shows that looked more like the real American 40 years ago, It feels like we have regressed. It’s so wonderful that we have an African-American President now. But before we had President Obama for real, we had President David Palmer on 24. Maybe TV needs to lead the way again. When you turn on the news, there’s so much hate and conflict. If people saw other cultures and lifestyles on broadcast TV,  maybe there would be less hate and lack of understanding. I think Modern Family is a hit because it’s funny, but also because it reflects real life in so many ways and we all can see ourselves in the characters. It would be nice if we saw more of that on TV in the coming seasons.

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