I think everyone who’s ever watched TV has had this experience – they discover a show they absolutely adore. Everything about it rings true – the acting is solid, the story is fantastic, etc. Then they discover they’re the only one amongst those they know that watches the show. For some reason it just doesn’t capture the collective psyche like Lost or The Mentalist. Even more disheartening is when they find out the show is getting middling to terrible ratings and it is, more or less, inevitable that the show will be cancelled.
Well, these are my three personal picks of absolutely riveting shows that the vast majority of TV viewers couldn’t give less of a damn about. Surprisingly none of them are in danger of cancellation (thank God for smaller networks knowing quality matters just as much as ratings).
Just look at that image to the left. That is why I love this show, and the show isn’t even about stuff like that happening! Okay, a lot of messed up situations occur (melting a body with acid being a particularly vivid scenario) but what’s so great about the show is that it’s the characters and dialogue that make it all worth watching.
Bryan Cranston plays Walter White, a low paid high school chemistry teacher who needs a job on the side to make ends meet. When he finds out he has terminal cancer, he decides to do what all rational men of his ilk do – become the next crystal meth tycoon of Albuquerque. Okay, it happens a hell of a lot more naturally than that, and it involves getting together with a former student named Jesse Pinkman.
Did I mention he has a disabled son, a balloon of a pregnant wife and a brother in law who’s also a DEA agent? Shit happens in this show, and the tension level is kept at a near break neck pace throughout. And amazingly, each episode moves like molasses, just letting the viewers absorb every detail before the next “holy fuck” moment strikes.
At only a million viewers weekly, Breaking Bad definitely benefited from being on AMC, where prestige matters more than anything. How else can you explain shows like this and Mad Men getting renewed? It’s not because AMC is raking in the Benjamins.
Friday Night Lights
Forget that this show is an adaptation of a movie. Forget that it’s even about football. The drama on the field is only a byproduct of what this show gives the viewer – realistic human drama and an entertaining depiction of small town football fanaticism. Now, I’ve never lived in a small football town, but it sure feels like this show’s gotten it all right, with boosters manipulating the show and every store shutting down on game night (it’s Friday, by the way). You really feel like you know the Taylors, the Streets, the Garreties.
I honestly didn’t think this series would survive after the horrific second season, where the show more or less forgot why the first season was so perfect. Hell, it had a fucking murder subplot! The shark didn’t even know what jumped it. Plus, the ratings continued to decline and no money grubbing network could justify keeping the show alive.
And then came DirecTV. Ironing out an unlikely deal with NBC, they created a shortened 13 episode season three that is every bit as engrossing as the first. All but forgetting the second season ever existed, it showed what the show was best at – the life in a small town and the dreams and heart breaks that come with that.
I know the ads and commercials make this look like CW shit (except Supernatural. That’s a damn good show), but any person who likes a good, solid, story with relatable characters and realistic drama will adore this. And please, if you do check it out and like it, tell more people to watch it! The show got nearly non-existent ratings when it aired on NBC, so it goes without saying that my jaw was slacked when it was announced the show got not only one more season, but two. In a capitalist market, there really is no justification for this show’s continuing existence. Luckily, there are some executives out there who know a good thing when they it.
I know, I know, some of you reading this may think its a stretch to put such a ‘popular’ show on here, but when you realize its highest rating was 1.51 million (for the season 3 finale), in the overall scheme of television viewing, that’s barely a percentage of viewers. I also know that with shows on cable, everything’s relative and I know 1.51 million is more than enough for a renewal on Showtime, but again, I’m not looking at things relatively.
At this point, Dexter is essentially ingrained into the television culture. Almost everybody knows what Dexter is. May have even caught an episode or two, but the overwhelming majority of viewers simply don’t watch the show. They hear of its concept from a third party, from websites raving for it, from the occasional diehard fan of a friend. But no, they don’t watch it themselves.
They hear the concept of a serial killer hero and they think, “hey, that’s pretty cool. I’ll definitely check it out.” Obviously from the ratings, no they are not. And I understand the underlying concept is disturbing to say the least, and may indeed offend a great many morals, but the one thing the show isn’t is sleazy. It’s not subversive in any way, shape or form. It’s simply a very well written drama about a serial killer trying to hold back his urges by channeling it for good rather than evil. It’s great stuff, and aside from a very weak season 2 (is this like a trend?) the show is nail biting and fascinating.
And yet, nobody actually watches it.
I know I’m probably leaving off one of your favourite shows nobody watches, but I told myself – no, Sang, just do three. You’ll go on forever if you try to do more. There were plenty of other candidates – Chuck, Damages, Mad Men, etc – but this is already a thousand freaking words. If you actually read this far, my hats (I have multiple) off to you. Don’t be shy mentioning your personal favourite show that seemingly nobody is watching.