Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving The Audience What They Want

This would seem to be a no-brainer.  It's perhaps not as simple in practice as it seems.  Some people can tap into what people want and others don't quite hit the mark.  Don't read further if you think I'm going to give you the solution but I can say a couple things.

Know your audience and be true to them.  How do you know your audience?  Decide who your audience is.  Is the audience people like you?  That's fine.  Figure it out and then don't annoy them.

Longtime readers of this blog know I worked on the soap opera One Life To Live.  I had been a fan of the show for years (with some interruptions)  and knew it inside out.  I think my favorite soap of all times  was probably Days of Our Lives.  What I really liked was the normalcy and goodness of the core characters Tom and Alice Horton.  I liked how they celebrated the holidays.  Today, Thanksgiving, there would be a big family feast.  Iconic family.  Tomorrow, the women would go shopping and come home to have turkey sandwiches.  Not the stuff of drama but the stuff of life.  Every year, same thing.  I loved it.  Since the show is still running, I was not in the minority.

Yesterday on One Life To Live Bo and what's her name... Nora (gee, I should remember since she's played by Hilary Bailey and I gave Hilary her first major role in TV on The Doctors when I was the headwriter there) spent all day with their comatose son.  It was a semi- voice over narration with Matthew commenting on the various characters throughout the hour and the show ended something like "Everyone had a memorable day.  I did, too.  It was the day I died."  Close-up of heart machine flatlined, cut to horrified parents.

Way to go OLTL!  You just violated every rule in daytime.  This is the reason you were cancelled.  Good.  Killing a child on a holiday.  Is that supposed to be edgy?   Thank you for that.  The show has about 5 weeks left and you spoil it.  Good going. 

People watch Law & Order: SVU to see children raped, maimed and murdered.  You don't do that on a soap.  Or let me say you can, but few people are going to praise you for those kind of choices.  If you'd like to argue that point with me just let me point out when I took over The Doctors it was the lowest rate soap.  Even then I had 4,000,000 viewers a day.  This year OLTL 2,500,000.  There may be a lot of reasons why viewership is down over the years, and I'm going to say crappy writing by arrogant writers who don't know and respect their audience is right there at the top.

Be sincere.  Write from your heart.  Respect yourself, your characters and your audience.  Do the best work you're capable of.  Strive to do better.  You may not be more successful but you will be a better person.  One last thought--Be grateful and give back to the life that gave you so much.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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