Here’s the point. Profiling isn’t simply a police thing, it’s an every day, every channel programming thing. The networks are profiling all 330 million of us with every new fall season of shows. I mean, who’s kidding who! The three-piece-suits in New York and Hollywood aren’t looking for quality so much as identification. They want to find sitcom/doc/cop/vampire/reality shows that you and I can easily identify with. That’s what sells shows, and selling shows means selling the sponsor’s stuff!
End of story.
Well OK, if you need to get a little more analytical about the process, here’s what goes on in those network offices where producers are pitching their new shows. Sure they talk about the story-lines by the writers and the star power of the cast. But what the execs want to hear is about the “who” in these programs. The networks have profiled the who’s their audiences most respond to, so it is these particular who’s they want to see in the scripts. “As long as those viewers sprawled in front of their sets can identify with members of the cast, chances are they’ll stick with the show!”
Who are these who’s? Audience profiling has given the networks this core four:
* The Sexy Lead Roles
Television learned from dime novels and later on Hollywood that you can’t sell without sexy male and female leads. Which is why you will always find a January Jones, Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Moyer or John Stamos in your fall lineup. And when they wear out their welcome, there’s more in the cookie factory where they came from
* The Buddy Roles
Good natured sidekicks have been around since Tonto rode with the famous Masked Man. They’re still with us today in the characters of Mr Spock to Dr Watson, from Jon Cryer on ‘Two And A Half Men’ to Scott Caan on ‘Hawaii Five-O.’ Every sexy leading player needs some someone to play off, and we at home never seem to weary of this easy-going shtick
* The Kooky Roles
Let the record show we love at least one kooky character per program. You know, a happy cross between nerd and weird. Check your popular cop shows and study the medical examiner. He/she is always that audience pleasing cross between nerd and weird as they quirkily fuss with their lab equipment, eventually coming up with just what the sexy hunk boss needed to break the case
* The Complex Roles
Then there’s that required touch of the complex. Some character who is a tad more complicated than the standard good guy/bad guy. He/she’s the one with the dark back story that is gradually unspooled over the episodes, including their bizarre family secrets and/or hidden neuroses and/or gayness. Watch for them this fall season, because even though they will go by different names in different series, they will all be in there some how, some way
Oh, one more thing! Every new season seems to bring back Donald Trump. Why? Well, the way he sees it, he is all of these four roles all wrapped up in one glorious himself. That he keeps coming back may profile us more accurately than we care to admit….
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