May 21, 2012


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Hollywood is Business. Storytelling is Religion. Hence, Conflict.

some of the best tv shows that never got wider appeal

Hollywood is a business. It’s just disguised pretty well. Storytelling is a religion. People can connect to stories deeply. One funds—and eventually feeds off of—the other. Great storytelling doesn’t always make great money. Sometimes the art of story is the least important part of the business of film and television. Great art doesn’t always appeal to everyone. Business, however, often makes a whole lot of money appealing to everyone. It’s a numbers game.

People fall in love with stories. They fall in love with tv shows and movies. They fall in love with the thoughts and emotions the writers, directors and actors help them to feel. Sure, there is an audience that consumes entertainment merely as a pleasant distraction. I do it. Sometimes I just want to watch the show and not have to think too much. We all need a break from life. But, then there are shows that resonate with me. They challenge me to think just a little bit deeper. They pull out of me a thought or emotion that conveys a deeper connection or meaning in the work, and that ties back to my real life.

The business of storytelling doesn’t really care about that. Why should they? They are there to make money. But ask a fan what their favorite show is. Ask them to name a few shows they love. They will tell you. Eagerly. Now ask them their favorite network. Ask them what the difference is between the programming on NBC or ABC. They probably can’t tell you. I can’t tell you either. The network is irrelevant to them.

Great shows need to make money to exist. Dulling the content to appease the masses seems to be the push of corporate owners of content. I don’t think that will last forever. Dedicated, passionate followings may not drive the needle enough to get the necessary nielsen ratings to keep a show on the air, but it just might do so in another format.

Someday—hopefully soon—we’ll have a platform to distribute content that doesn’t rely on appeasing the masses to fund it’s existence. It will rely on a dedicated small following to be the patrons of the show. In the long run, if they really want it, 200,000 passionate fans can trump 2 million casual ones. They will have to be willing to pay for it. But if they do, the rules will change. They did for the music industry. They are now for the publishing industry. They will soon for the entertainment industry. And we’ll all be the better off for it.

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