The Hollywood Reporter this morning has an editorial about what Bob Greenblatt, the new-ish head of NBC, should do to turn the network’s dismal ratings around. This has been a pretty popular topic of conversation in the entertainment media lately, this whole NBC thing. I guess what happened is that their ratings got good for a minute after being bad for years but now they are bad again? OH I AM SORRY, DID YOU FALL ASLEEP? Seriously, this whole conversation is like watching inside baseball dry. That being said, I think this Hollywood Reporter article may finally have taken things a step too far. Here are some of the most egregious quotes:

Well, there’s your big fiery death ball. Again. No, not the meteorite in Russia, the one that hit NBC on Wednesday like the gods themselves threw it out of anger.

That is literally the opening of the article. FIERY DEATH BALL. Like the gods themselves threw it out of anger. We’re just talking about TELEVISION RATINGS right? This is all because not very many people watched Smash? Just making sure. Continue, lunatic:

If NBC wanted to find a silver lining it could have touted the fact that Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, a show with a concept older than the people it features, was its highest rated show, reaching roughly 3.5 million people in the, what, 100-plus million homes NBC has a key pass to? There’s no silver lining in that. Just a dry cleaning bag to kill yourself with.

Whoa, dude! A casually tossed off and yet super-specific and visually graphic suicide reference? You should ask your therapist about keeping things in perspective I know that you have one!

Yes, every broadcast network sans CBS, which has been the best-run and most efficiently ruthless broadcaster for years now, is living a nightmare scenario that makes The Road from Cormac McCarthy look like The Sound of Music.

So, just to clarify, the current state of broadcast television is not actually a post-Apocalyptic nightmare covered in a dark gray ash that hides the roving gangs of cannibalistic skull rapists and nightmare basement human organ farmers because it is actually WORSE than that? That scenario is like a musical (about THE NAZIS) in comparison? First and foremost, CAN WE GET THIS MAN A PULITZER PLEASE? And now let us continue:

That’s the seductive, sad dream that others have bought into. You know, right before they got walked out back and before their eyes could adjust to the sun, someone put a piano wire around their neck and announced in a press release that they were “hanging out their shingle” to produce new shows.

Dope garroting reference.

Dope article.

I never realized how INSANE television ratings were. What a nightmare! Guys, this is serious. FIRST THEY CAME FOR NBC AND I BLOGGED NOTHING. I’m nervous for everyone now. Please don’t kill yourselves with dry cleaning bags or let them garrot you with piano wire in the backyard. WE HAVE TO CARRY THE FIRE, YOU GUYS! TO THE COAST!

Comments (44)
  1. I blame Dan Harmon.

  2. “Man, that Tim Goodman is so edgy he must be insightful!” -a time traveler from the 90s reading this article.

  3. Tim Goodman: I’ve never tasted such awful bile before. It felt like my insides were melting as your toxic waste was poured down my gullet to cause a veritable explosion in my gut. I can barely imagine the horror it will cause as my insides erupt from my body to shower the world in viscera and the remnants of your vile potion that will likely cause disfigurement to anyone it touches.

    Intern: I’m sorry the coffee was lukewarm, Mr. Goodman. There will be a fresh pot ready in 2 minutes.

  4. Fiery Death Ball is my new band name, you guys.

  5. Holy crap whoever wrote that needs to take their meds.

    I think the whole NBC thing is interesting to casual viewers because it has been around and in our homes for so long and it’s not often you see an institution like that die such a long, painful, public death.

    It has also become kind of a poster child of the trend of smart, quality programming leaving the mainstream for smaller niche markets, the dumbing-down of America in microcosm. I don’t know how true that is but it does seem like that’s the story that Variety and Vulture want to sell.

    • NBC is the only channel I watch when I watch TV. HOWEVER, my housemates all watch prank shows. And last night I spent an hour and a half on the couch watching Betty White’s Off Their Rockers laughing at the hilarity of it all. And then realized I should probably get to my book.

      What I mean to say is all the networks, besides NBC, know that their audiences are juvenile twentysomethings and people 30-and-up who just want a light laugh to take away from their child-ridden lives. I love children, but when I was watching my little 2-year-old sister for a couple months, How I Met Your Mother and The New Adventures of Old Christine were what kept me entertained.

      • Yeah, and I think it’s a ship that tends to right itself. The big, dumb shows can be on network TV and the smarter niche shows will find more democratic places to thrive like FX/Comedy Central/Adult Swim/AMC/IFC/Netflix/etc.

    • It is interesting to think about re: the dumbing down of America. I hate to admit it, but I think it is kind of true. I feel like even just a few decades ago, it was more or less common that the best and smartest music, movies, and television of the time were also the most popular.

      You can argue taste is subjective and yes, that is true. However, I feel like anyone who really cares about, say, music will have favorite musicians from the ’60s and ’70s that are almost always the popular bands from that time, but their favorite current musicians are all more obscure and almost never from top 40 radio. Similarly with television, like you said, there is definitely a trend of all the smart, quality programming leaving the mainstream, and we are more or less in the golden age of television! The same could be said of movies, although I don’t think this holds QUITE as true yet, but there are already hugely mainstream impossibly bad and dumb movies that make all of the money somehow and keep getting made (I’m looking at YOU Transformers franchise).

      • I absolutely agree with this music notion. I love Sam Cooke and The Beach Boys and that’s what was popular in the 60s. Now it’s like, Chris Brown and Mumford & Sons are the replacement and I just could give a shit about those two. I now only find happiness in the most obscure and yet accessible music.

        As for movies, I find that I barely see blockbusters anymore. And this site,, seems to have an eye for the obscure yet highly accessible movies out there. They also review mainstream flicks but only to bash them. Except Looper, they loved that movie.

        It’s funny enough, I only quote shows like Parks and Rec and 30 Rock and Arrested Development and The Office and Community because they are smart shows (not The Office so much any more, I’m just invested is all) and yet the majority of my coworkers don’t get a single reference. I’ll say “cool cool cool” when I agree with something, and they’ll look at me like, “yeah, he’s high.”

        • It’s a little bit of an unfair comparison since you’re comparing the best of the entire 20th century of popular music to whatever’s going on right at this moment. I’m sure there was plenty of crap that is forgotten that got played heavily in the 50s and 60s.

          • Okay, well then let me revise: Sam Cooke is to Justin Timberlake, and The Beach Boys are to Fleet Foxes? I don’t know. I love music so much yet I have no desire to listen to 90% of top 40 jams. Groups these days aren’t trying to find their voice like James Murphy and Justin Timberlake did, while every group today sees that dubstep and wonky sounds are hip and why not take advantage of its popularity and recreate the sounds and make a fuck ton of money? It is a no-brainer to a businessman, because he knows his audience has no brains. (I’ll be leaving now.)

          • In regards to music, I know there was definitely a lot of crap out there in the ’60s and ’70s at least. I spend a lot of time going through old albums looking for samples for beatmaking, and that requires listening to A LOT of bad music. Every so often I find an artist that nobody has heard of that is excellent, but more often its pretty generic crap. My whole thing though, is that most of the popular musicians at the time were some of the most talented and put out very high quality music. If you look at top selling records during that time, it lines up pretty well with the best talent. Today, I can very safely say that is very much not the case, with a few exceptions. Music hasn’t gotten worse overall, but the more talented musicians who really care about putting out something fresh and of a higher quality are no longer the ones selling the most records.

      • I think it’s somewhat of a natural progression, as more and more means to distribute content become available the audience is increasingly fractured and only the biggest, broadest stuff can survive on networks, just like only the big summer blockbusters make much money nowadays that everyone has home theaters and Netflix.

        Same thing happened with radio, as people abandoned mainstream stations for satellite and now podcasts. Why wouldn’t you gravitate to a station that’s tailored more closely to what you enjoy? And what the mainstream stations are left with are the people who don’t have the time or will or ability to seek out stuff they care about more.

        • Valid point. I would say then that the “dumbing down of American television” is in part due to the laziness of Americans, which is due to how accessible everything they want is now thanks for iPads, the internet, smartphones, marathons of their favorite still-running shows on syndication, etc. I find that I am more likely to put in the effort to get a great reward like a wonderful new album or a quirky indie flick that I’ve researched, instead of sit on the couch and wait for the one or two chuckle-worthy scenes in a sitcom.

          Also, BBC is the mainstream channel for the UK and they have the best shows. WTF, America! Get with it!

          • BBC is publicly owned, so its interest is in providing quality entertainment rather than selling as much ad time as possible. It’d be like if we had 20 PBS stations for different types of programming instead of private companies that are beholden to stockholders.

          • So much PBS. So much Bob Ross. A perfect world. Sigh.

          • I still stick with my statement. BBC is an internationally-adored channel. The US has nothing to show for itself.

        • This is very true. In regards to music (I know we are on Videogum not Stereogum I promise) when you look back at music from past decades, it was a lot more homogeneous than it is now. Sure there are trends and there were niche genres, but increased accessibility allows for a bazillion different subgenres to crop up and find audiences that would never have happened before the internet. Which is a really good thing! I really hate the “durr music was so much better in the ’60′s” argument because of this. I just wish the most talented or creative musicians got more recognition.

        • Radio collapsed because of the Telecom Act of 1996, which loosened restrictions on how many stations one corporation could own in a city. So over the next 10 years massive conglomerates bought out all the owner-operated stuff. And their logic was not “what can we do with this frequency that we personally will enjoy and take pride in,” but “what can we do that will maximize profits for our board?” You can’t go to the board and say, “Truuuue, we’d make more money if we converted this to a Jack FM or Spanish station, but we have Steve Jones of The Clash as a DJ and we let him play whatever the hell he wants every day — reggae, doo wop, punk from the summer of 1980 — whatever! How awesome is that?!”

          This consolidation of radio toward money took place before alternate channels really exploded. And the alternate channels are in a way content-Whereas with network TV there was always a need to appeal to a broad audience and competition formed (led by HBO/Cinemax) around the idea that cable could make money by doing stuff the cautiouser networks could not (in some cases due to “decency” laws and the FCC, not just money), like The Sopranos and The Shield.

          So, similar end result, but different paths there, because in TV it was a bug/feature from the start and in radio it was installed in our lifetimes (if we are older than 16).

    • egggggs-xactly. This whole fretting about the death of bohemoths = the death of everything reminds of a Planet Money story a while back about the recording industry. They interviewed some really great independent niche artists who were making it work in creative ways, but then they kept returning to the BURNING question: “but can this new model create the next Brittany Spears?” who gives a poop’s poop?

      by the way I <3 Planet Money. I only criticize the ones I love.

  6. Dry cleaning bag, huh? Good to know. #lifehacks

  7. For the Peacock of Death spread his wings on the blast,
    And breathed in the face of the CBS as he passed:
    And the eyes of the viewers waxed deadly and chill,
    And their hearts but dry-heaved, and for ever grew still

  8. “Bob Greenblatt, the new-ish head of NBC”

    Why does it matter that he’s new-ish? What do you have against nudaism, Gabe?

  9. Don’t blame me, I filled in my Nielsen TV diary with several NBC shows.

  10. Part of the problem is that ratings don’t reflect actual viewer behaviors. They are still JUST beginning to incorporate DVR and on-demand ratings and Internet-based ratings (which are all given a lesser weight by A LOT). Basically the only people the ratings reflect are those who would watch a show in real time and through commercials. This being said, the ratings are there to tell advertisers who is watching what show so they can determine advertising prices. But the sad reality is that terrible shows like Wipeout will get 8 times the Nielsen ratings of a solid show like Don’t Trust The Bitch in 23. Not because no one enjoys laughter, but because the audience won’t watch it in a traditional environment. Reruns on TBS of Big Bang Theory beat that show in the ratings, and yet every person I know who has seen the show absolutely loved it. But people who watch The Big Bang Theory in real time or Wipeout in real time are more likely to buy ads… and that is how the show’s value is measured.

    This being said, I’m super pissed Zero Hour was cancelled. Cloning Nazi conpiracies? That was some Nic Cage movie as a TV show level of amazing.

    The most successful semi-quality shows tend to blend high and low culture. Revenge is great, but it’s considered a guilty pleasure and is silly enough that the Nielsen demographic might still watch it. But crappy reality shows cost nothing to make and consistently get huge ratings. Stuff that exclusively targets young people or more savvy types is mostly seen without ads so it just doesn’t count. Also: USA takes a lot of the niche shows that could work well on NBC, but may not as their programming is not as correlated as before. But sometimes, when they’re doing extra bad, NBC will rerun old eps of Psych… so maybe it won’t all be The Road. At least not for us.

    • This being said, the same thing has happened with writing. If you guys aren’t following it, a big stink was made by some freelancer after getting barely any money to write for The Atlantic. What’s funny to me is that this has been true for a long, LONG time… and this is the first guy I’m aware that has made a very public stink about it. I read the AWL chatscript (gag) about this last night, and it was even more depressing. When I started out, before the newspapers were all consolidated and still making ad revenue, freelance was an option that could help you pay rent. Now it’s reduced to blogging — and even then editors are pressured to publish listicles because those get a ton of hits with little-to-no effort and the pay scale is minuscule because it can be and because the content is usually garbage and hundreds of people are all trying to publish their fucking listicles. And now that specific horrible Internet content business model is seeping into legitimate sites, furthering watering down the talent pool and driving everything into garbage. This on top of everyone having a blog so it’s impossible to suss out quality content from crap. Titles mean nothing. Names don’t get you anything — on either end. Internet famous and Twitter/Tumblr famous doesn’t mean you’re good at your job — just that you know how to engage teenagers. A sites I used to produce that provides actual news and actual information are studying Buzzfeed to figure out how to spike their ratings (thought the Managing Editor of that site is a fucking idiot who came from radio sales).

      In short, Grimm comes back tomorrow. Psych is doing the Blair Psych Project next week and I’m seriously happy I am out of both of these goddamn businesses.

      • A site IS studying. Sorry for the bad grammar. I’m sure more than one site is doing this, I just know of one for a fact and forgot to change my language to reflect my edit. I was up late last night trying to read about the North Korean nuclear strike, which I honestly hope is less important than this.

        • As an editor (and part-time molecular biologist), I approve this rant. Everyone knows that editing pays nothing. I get so dismayed each time I try to make extra money by freelancing, as the rates are negligible. We only pay our freelance writers SGD50 per page — for a printed magazine!

          On the plus side, I watched Psych last night and it was suuuuper funny.

    • I finished a class exactly on Nielsen and tv research and sales run by a network person, and it’s a shame that I can only upvote you once.

  11. before I looked at the paycheck which was of $4617, I be certain that…my… friend was like actualy taking home money part time at there computar.. there uncle haz done this for only twelve months and as of now paid for the dept on there appartment and got a top of the range Volkswagen Golf GTI. go to,……….

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