Chapter Three Not ‘Must See’ for Me: The Balkanization of Entertainment
Not ‘Must See’ for Me:The Balkanizationof Entertainment
In 1988, a genre-changing sitcom debuted to terrific ratings, instantly becoming the #2-rated comedy in all of television by garnering 38 million viewers per week. Named after its comedienne lead actress, Roseanne became a staple in the ABC comedy lineup, eclipsed in viewership only by NBC’s The Cosby Show. After completing a successful nine-season run, the show returned 30 years after its debut with similar ranked-metric success: Roseanne was again the #2-rated comedy show in all of television (this time surpassed only by CBS stalwart The Big Bang Theory) and was, once again, a cornerstone of ABC programming. The only difference: Roseanne now only had 14 million viewers; even when adding time shifted DVR and streaming totals, the number only reached 17.8 million viewers, less than half the viewership of Season 1 in 1988 (de Moraes & Hipes, 2018).
Of course, the Roseanne story quickly took a political turn as the actress offered what most dubbed a racist tweet (Koblin, 2018), leading to her firing and the retooling of the program into a new show without her, The Conners. However, the parallel case is useful for understanding the rise and fall of communal television. The same program with the same overall ranking could do so with less than half the viewers from three decades prior. The media touchstones people could previously count on for common languages, popular culture references, and shared understanding largely have splintered (see Webster &...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.