Bette Midler, Studio 60, Joey: Why These 3 Anticipated TV Shows Fell Flat
By Molly St. Louis
Last year, 487 scripted series aired on broadcast, cable and streaming outlets. This year, Netflix alone has cranked out about 700 original series.
Let that sink in for a second. Yeah, that’s a whole lot of content. And the fact that we consume so much content has had some interesting side effects.
Whether we realize it or not, average viewers are now astute dramaturges, who can sniff out weak storylines, disingenuous performances and poor social commentaries. So naturally, we get wildly disappointed when new shows don’t live up to our expectations.
Let’s take a look at a few raging fails that are forever burned into our memories, shall we?
Who doesn’t love Bette Midler? Aside from being a national treasure, she was Winnie in Hocus Pocus, for goodness’ sake! She has millions of diehard fans from numerous generations, so there was understandably a great deal of excitement from fans that she would be starring in her own show that mirrored her actual life. Even better? She’d be singing in it.
But unfortunately her show, Bette, was canceled after just one season, proving that even the most competent of actresses need a team.
The major complaint was that the show was entirely focused on Midler; unlike other successful shows about a single person, it didn’t have great supporting characters to round things out. The lesson? Bette’s Lucy needed an Ethel.
Bette was not renewed for a second season.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006)
Tina Fey once described Aaron Sorkin as “the most powerful writer in television.” Known for his rich, twisting storylines and rapid-fire dialogue, he has never been one to disappoint. So when his new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, premiered, fans had high hopes that this would be another West Wing-type success in the making.
The story was set behind the scenes of a Hollywood sketch comedy show, highlighting the romance, turmoil, moral decisions and politics of the actors and executives that worked there. The stellar cast included Matthew Perry, D.L. Hughley
It started off with a compelling first episode and sadly, went downhill from there, while swallowing a massive budget. Unfortunately, the script just wasn’t funny—and given that it’s set in a comedy sketch show, that was a cardinal sin.
Ironically, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, which was also a comedy show about a comedy show, premiered that same year and became a huge hit.
Matt LeBlanc is forever Joey, the lovable, dimwitted aspiring actor from Friends. Given the immense popularity of the show, it was a natural decision to create a spinoff for one of the characters and LeBlanc seemed like the perfect choice.
Fans were thrilled to see Joey finally move to Hollywood to pursue his acting career, with his temperamental older sister, Gina, played by the incomparable Drea de Matteo, as his sidekick. However, the situation just didn’t feel right.
As it turns out, removing Joey’s compadres was a bad move and the show’s ratings quickly plummeted. This was also not helped by the fact that it was in the same timeslot as American Idol. Eventually, NBC pulled the plug, based on poor ratings.