How Terriers is like so many products

Yes, I meant “is” in the title, not “are”.

There’s a new show on FX titled “Terriers”, and it should, by all that Hollywood knows to be true, be a hit.  But it isn’t and won’t be.  It stars Donal Logue, a respected and liked actor, it has an excellent troop of writers, good direction, and so on.  But is misses the mark – it’s actually painful to watch rather than entertaining.

The reason, IMO, relates to my preferred theory of art.  I’ve always gravitated to the romantic realism school, which says that art is a reflection of real life, with certain aspects selectively exaggerated so as to make the artist’s point.  This makes it unlike photo realistic realism, or any school of abstract art.

Terriers is like photo realistic realism in that it is too gritty, too realistic, and it’s characters too unlikeable.  No one wants to watch a show that’s painful to watch in that way.  On the other hand, many of the shows that do really well–even among the educated (thus eliminating WWE and all reality shows)–are what my wife calls cartoons; they aren’t actually realistic, but they do have somewhat recognizable characters in them.  Included here are NCIS, Burn Notice and Mr. Logue’s former show: Life (which NBC canceled).  As a seeming counter-example, the Best Show Ever on Television (according to all critics and all police officers) was The Wire, which was quite gritty; the difference between it and Terriers being that the grit in The Wire was part of the selectively exaggerated aspect of the Baltimore drug trade, not part-and-parcel of a not-likable character.

In short, Terriers is a product of an inward-looking Hollywood culture that it wrote and produced to please itself, not the market.

Might any of your product failures be the result of the same dynamic?


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