By Alex Rigotti
If someone had asked about the hottest comedy of 2019, no one would have predicted the immense popularity of NBC’s The Good Place. Following Eleanor Shellstrop’s realisation that she’s mistakenly been sent to the ‘Good Place’ in the afterlife, the show offers a hilarious exploration of modern morality. It’s averaged five million viewers per season, but at the height of its success, creator Mike Schur has decided to cancel the show. Is TV finally respecting artistic integrity over money?
It’s more complicated to answer than you think. In the wake of the streaming era, companies’ potential for income has changed dramatically, especially for sitcoms. Think of The Big Bang Theory or Friends – on a typical cable network, sitcoms maximised profit with simple, funny premises and loose storylines
In comparison, The Good Place’s format and
Furthermore, streamed shows are more inclined to respect their commitment to storytelling because of their online availability. It’s becoming more obvious to notice filler episodes created for the sole purpose of increasing profit.
In the case of How I Met Your Mother, its final season could even be considered filler: its twenty-four-episode season revolved around the last fifty-six hours before Ted’s wedding. The more the show dragged out Ted’s narrative, the more unbearable it became. It resulted in being detrimental to the show, the actors and the fans. The short, snappy style of
This is also true of Jane the Virgin. The hit CW show played with the telenovela format, allowing for a weekly cliff-hanger. But, there was a time limit that the show respected, too; the show ended after just five seasons. Shows can’t compromise on commercialism and narrative integrity.
However, networking companies can’t gain income from integrity alone – art needs a consumer, and fan bases are integral in this ecosystem. With social media now essential in establishing an audience, shows must make more effort to engage. Take HBO’s Shameless, which maintains a fervent fanbase on Tumblr. Their efforts to connect with their audience have negatively impacted the show’s narrative. Fans sent death threats to creator John Wells when beloved character Mickey Malkovich left the show. In response, the show brought Malkovich back for its tenth season. Shameless is being unnecessarily extended to retain its fanbase, rather than enrich them.
But The Good Place
Ultimately, The Good Place signals something more than just