With the fall TV season underway, networks and cable channels are trying to connect with viewers on the hot topics right now. That means financial uncertainty is front and center; protagonists struggle to make ends meet and pursue new careers. And it’s no surprise that in this era of Bernie Madoff, ponzi schemers and corrupt CEOs and politicians are the villains viewers love to hate.
“Roseanne” is the ultimate example of tough times yielding huge TV hits. The show debuted in 1988 as unemployment rates were picking up, giving a comedic, but realistic take on a working class family living on a budget. It was the most watched TV show in the US from 1989 to 1990, in the top four for six of its nine seasons. A gold mine for ABC, where the show aired; now it continues to air in syndication.
Now there’s more pressure to program a Roseanne-style hit than ever. Advertiser dollars are being lured to more targeted cable programming, and ad rates are slipping. Last year the TV networks failed to find many new hits last year, in part because the the 100-day writers strike curtailed pilot season. So now, returning shows like Law and Order and NCIS weave headlines through story lines. But it's the new fall shows that make fiscally-conscious themes pivotal to plots.
Does it work? Relatable or Annoying? Read up on them and then take the poll for each show: