Yes, there really are some winners! Despite a bummer fall for TV networks, we found intriguing gems amid the rubble (and also some rubble amid the rubble). Here’s who has shined (and not) so far this season:
WINNER: Super Girls: The few new hits are full of kick-ass women — like CBS’ Supergirl, NBC’s Blindspot, and ABC’s Quantico. Some have extraordinary powers, such as Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) ability to not be recognized as Supergirl by merely wearing glasses, while Blindspot’s Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) and Quantico’s Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) shine with their Jason Bourne-esque abilities. (Oh, and speaking of super-powered crime fighters, CBS’ Limitless is doing pretty well too, but that’s about a man, so …).
LOSER: Pesky Math. Every morning when Nielsen releases TV ratings it’s like the Ark of the Covenant was just opened and network executives howl at each other to shut their eyes and don’t look at the wrathful numbers of doom. Yup, ratings are that bad lately. So, let’s ignore ‘em! (Or at least, let’s wait a few weeks until the ratings get bigger thanks to the silver linings playback of DVR). Fox has abandoned sending out overnight numbers altogether, so it doesn’t even matter how many people aren’t watching Minority Report.
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WINNER: Underdogs: Huh, FX renewed Tyrant again, are you sure? And AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire actually got another season too? One upside to the TV ratings implosion is that titles with, um, niche appeal are getting longer lives — such as ABC’s Dr. Ken, and Fox’s Grandfathered and The Grinder, all of which snagged full season pickups despite being ratings limbo stick contestants.
LOSER: Reality TV. What’s a new unscripted show you’re watching? … Figured. “Hollywood is out of ideas” is an unfair, clichéd gripe, but when it comes to the reality genre it’s become literally true. Nobody knows what the next Survivor or The Voice is. Can we blame the Kardashians for this, or no?
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WINNER: Netflix (& Chill): You know you’re really winning when a slang term for watching your service becomes a popular euphemism for millennials having sex. That new Netflix entries like Aziz Ansari’s Master of None and Marvel’s Jessica Jones are drawing loud critical raves helps too. Even ultra-traditional CBS plans to snub its own linear channel by putting its most buzzy upcoming project – a new Star Trek series – exclusively on its streaming service All Access (Maybe “All Access, Roll Over & Sleep” will become a thing?).
LOSER: Certain Death: The line between life and death is fuzzier than ever in primetime. Glenn (Steven Yuen) on AMC’s The Walking Dead, Abbie (Nicole Beharie) on Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, and Kevin (Justin Theroux) on HBO’s The Leftovers are all main characters who were seemingly killed off (and don’t even get us started on Jon Snow in Game of Thrones). Except then we learned Glenn wasn’t getting his guts torn out by zombies after all: he’s perhaps the first graphically killed character to ever be resurrected by a wider camera angle. And the others might be coming back, too. Quit trolling us, TV!
WINNERS … & LOSERS: NBC’s Late-Night Hosts: On one hand, Jimmy Fallon is the undisupted late-night ratings winner, recently widening his margin over Late Show’s new host Stephen Colbert. And Seth Meyers, well, he’s doing fine too. Yet if you go online, fans seem far more obsessed with the latest thoughts of Daily Show newcomer Trevor Noah, HBO’s Last Week Tonight ranter John Oliver, and Colbert — all Jon Stewart disciples who add a fearless rant-y perspective to late-night that blows up social media and drives conversation amid the sea of celebrity interview sameness.