Gavin Polone makes a good, but depressing point in the process of analyzing what NBC needs to do to improve its standing among the networks — and concluding that they should go after men very aggressively:
One of NBC’s true assets is the ability to promote its new shows on NFL Sunday, the only programming they have that gets a big male audience. But if they want to get men to watch and stay with their shows, they have to commit to giving men what they want thematically and not water it down in an attempt not to alienate potential female viewers. The Playboy Club might have reached a male audience (as the original club did), but instead of making the show a titillating male fantasy set at a time when Hugh Hefner’s lifestyle was heroic rather than clownish, the network steered the show toward mystery and female empowerment stories. The result felt neither here nor there and didn’t attract either audience. Women are more tolerant in terms of what they’ll watch than men are. If a character is boorish, sexist, and violent but is written with integrity and is in a vehicle for interesting plots, women will watch: The Sopranos was a great example of this. But no matter how well done Drop Dead Diva may be, no straight guy will watch it. When I was first producing Gilmore Girls, I remember testing it and hearing the males in the test audience say that they thought the show was quite good but that they’d never tune in.
I really wish this wasn’t true. It’s incredibly irritating to be told by, say, Marvel Comics, that if women would just pony up some more cash than we already do, they’ll do better by us. We already bend so much. Are we really supposed to believe that if we completely acquiesce to culture made by and for men that they’ll they’ll reward us with products that are oriented towards us and our experiences? It doesn’t seem to have worked out that well for us to just buy in to culture about men, or culture where really terrible things happen to women in the name of grittiness. Watching The Sopranos and The Wire didn’t get us a New Golden Age mob or cop show with women in the center of the frame and men at the periphery.
And I just want to holler at men who insist they’d never tune in to a show aimed at women to consider what they’re missing, to consider what women add to their favorite shows. Does anyone who watches Sons of Anarchy seriously think it would be a better show without the female characters? Even without the men of SAMCRO, or with them on the edge of the frame, Gemma and company would make a killer stand-alone television show, and I hate to think that the men who tune in to Sons of Anarchy wouldn’t tune in to that. Similarly, I think the total dude aversion to Sex and the City is a mistake, though I can see how the show would be discomfiting for men who aren’t used to hear themselves spoken about in the same ways men regularly speak about women in culture. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have romantic and emotional subplots, but it’s an unambiguously wonderful cheesy action show with great villains. It’d be pretty depressing to see men not tune in to AKA Jessica Jones when it comes out, or to have it labeled the chick superhero show, the bone that gets thrown to women as a reward for our patience.
I don’t know what’s worse: the idea that women have to constantly submit to guy-defined culture, or that guys, by staying in their own enclaves, miss out.