American TV Producers May Face Global Backlash from 'Patriotic' Shows

Scott Roxborough of The Hollywood Reporter writes that American television series are facing international backlash due to their “military themes for Trump voters,” calling it a trend for the Fall lineup and labeling it “Patriotic TV.”

Apparently, they feel shows like CBS's SEAL Team, NBC's The Brave and The CW's Valor are a blatant attempt to appeal to Trump supporters. Now that would be a shock.

Roxborough believes "the shift in focus is threatening one of the most lucrative aspects of the American TV business: international sales. And the risky move comes at a time when U.S. programming is facing more challenges from home-grown product around the world."

Citing interviews back in May, he found reluctant European executives. "These shows are all really well made and the production values are great, but some of it is pretty jingoistic: lots of breast-beating and flag-flying," says Stephen Mowbray, head of acquisitions for Swedish public broadcaster SVT. "Really patriotic, nationalistic shows are really hard for us to place," agrees Silke Regier, an acquisitions executive with the German network RTL.

Roxborough argues that this decline matters because global sales play a large part in the bottom line of TV studios, but then goes on to state that Empire and This is Us – two of the most popular network shows in America – have completely tanked abroad. It should be noted that neither of these television shows deal with themes of patriotism, let alone be considered “jingoistic.”

Rather than trying to appeal to a European market, creators Benjamin Cavell and Ed Redlich of the new show SEAL Team  told Roxborough they are more concerned with their responsibility of being “faithful to the lives of the real people [in the SEAL team] who do this job…We have absolutely no interest in being this crazy jingoistic show, and we hope it plays this way."

European viewers, Roxborough explains, are more interested in television shows that “don't go for complicated, long-arc storytelling,” instead, they’d rather watch “case-of-the-week” shows like USA's Suits, Fox's Lethal Weapon and CBS's MacGyver reboot. Ironically, CBS’s NCIS remains the most popular show in the world.

However, Roxborough doesn’t “completely” blame the backlash to Trump, “per se,” “rather to the rah-rah American tone that military series can showcase — and the perception that more of these shows are coming under Trump.”

If there’s anything to take away from Roxborough’s story, it’s this – different countries and cultures have different preferences when it comes to what they find intriguing on television – and that has nothing to do with Trump or trying to “appeal” to Trump supporters.

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Melissa Mullins's picture