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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Plan B-ET: How Black Entertainment Television could save the soaps.

I haven’t watched BET as much in my life as I do right now.  Although I admittedly don’t watch most of the new shows, I do watch “The Game” and I appreciate how it has slid into more of a dramatic serial than a situation comedy.

I also happen to watch Degrassi on TeenNick.  What can I say?  Not only am I loyal to the Degrassi brand, I love my over-the-top-yet-somehow-realistic serialized programs.

Which is what “The Game” on BET is to me.

I recently read on Shadow and Act or some similar site that BET’s original programs average in the low millions of viewers.  That’s a lot of people watching the same thing.  We’ve seen how social media helped bring “The Game” back and create a loyal audience for Reed Between the Lines and the other new BET shows.

I know that network daytime dramas are expensive to produce.  I am sure Eric Braeden earns more in a week of work than I earn for six months at my nonprofit. But maybe, just maybe, with some tooling around, a daytime soap could work on BET.

I think the day will come that Y&R will get cancelled from CBS.  I think that will happen in the next five years.  I hope not, but I am looking at the genre die slowly before my eyes.  Days of Our Lives will probably go sooner, but I doubt Days could transition to an “ethnic” network – it has never had the loyal African American viewership that Y&R does.

So here is how I would transition Y&R:

First, before you leave CBS, you begin trimming down the cast.  Many of them are lovely actors who would be great anywhere, but let’s be honest here.  The Fisher-Baldwins don’t resonate with black folks like the core families do.  I wish they did.  But they don’t.  We talk about the Newmans, the Abbotts, and the Chancellors.

So trim down the cast.

Next, rethink the 52-week season.  Why on earth do we have an expectation that we will get a new episode of a soap opera every single workday?  That is CRAZY.  And that is expensive.  So stop it.

When you transition to BET, aim for a 30-36 week season – either two 15 week blocks (like semesters) or four sets of nine-week blocks throughout the year.  Wanna know why?  Because we are fine with repeats.  Let the actors do other projects.

And you know what?  I don’t need an hour.  I can live with half an hour.

Air the show twice – once in the day and once at night.  Seems to me that would save some money somehow.  Sure, you’re paying for a scripted show, but you’re airing it twice a day.

The major part of a move to BET, not just the built-in black audience, but the opportunity to bring on another black family just to even up the score a bit.

How come I still don’t know Neil’s parents?  How come Sofia doesn’t have aunts or uncles?  Where the hell is Mamie?  And how about Leslie Michaelson?  Let’s not forget that she earned a third of that 1.5 billion dollar lawsuit that Victor lost.  That’s right, your girl Leslie is a freakin millionaire.  And the DA.  And Sarge and Harmony.

Come on.  This is a good fit for BET if they play their cards right and if Y&R doesn’t get it together.

What do you think?

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Rashid's Take