For over two years, Fox's hit series Glee has been the talk of the town.
But in its third season, the teen musical sensation intentionally stretching the boundaries of broadcast television decency has hit a speed bump seeing its ratings plummet 23 percent according to the Los Angeles Times:
A rare TV/music double sensation just last year, "Glee" — an over-the-top romp about a high-school show choir filled with colorful characters — has officially entered its awkward middle years.
Some of the stats are about as inviting as pimples and braces. "Glee" has shed 23% of its audience compared with last season even after DVR viewing is factored in, according to Nielsen. A 3-D movie tie-in was released in August and drew disappointing box office. Sales of the "Glee" albums — 13 in all, featuring the show's signature, chorus-style covers of pop hits — have plummeted lately compared with earlier efforts.
The show is averaging 10.3 million total viewers this season, down 23% compared with last year. And in its all-important adults 18 to 49 demographic, "Glee" is off by 21%, which indicates young viewers — the ones who drive most cultural trends — are cooling on it. That may leave behind a smaller audience of "Gleeks," the preferred term for hard-core fans.
Bad numbers to be sure. What might be one of the reasons? Could it be the program's expressed intention to more aggressively target conservatives this year?
Or how about this:
In the most attention-grabbing episode this season, entitled "The First Time," the show teased viewers with the possibility of two consummated romances, one straight and one gay: singing star Rachel (Lea Michele) and her sometime boyfriend Finn (Cory Monteith), and Kurt (Chris Colfer) and his boyfriend Blaine (Darren Criss).
Although there was no nudity and the subject was handled discreetly by TV standards, some critics slammed the episode for what they said was promoting teen sex. CNN.com complained of a "brazen, ratings-boosting publicity" ploy.
NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center president Brent Bozell noted at the time:
In Hollywood, the only truly serious sexual disease is virginity. It’s a dire and embarrassing condition, desperately in need of elimination. Teenagers that still have “it” are woefully immature. They might as well consider themselves to be walking the school hallways in diapers.
Along comes Fox Entertainment to enlighten us. Get ready. It’s sick.
Indeed. It is quite conceivable that the excessive display of teen sex - or even the discussion of it - has turned off many family viewers as few parents might be interested in watching such fare with their kids.
As the Culture and Media Institute's Erin Brown observed in August, Glee was one of the programs planning an abundance of sex-related content this season.
Maybe they've overdone it.
Others might think the subject of homosexuality has taken on too much focus this season.
When lead character Kurt's struggles with this and his relationship with his father as a result were the focus in previous seasons, it was handled with greater discretion.
Gay co-creator Ryan Murphy said that he wanted to stretch this envelope further. This included an on-air kiss between lead characters Kurt and Blain.
Maybe much of America isn't yet ready for such a thing on prime time broadcast television.
On a lighter note, it is also possible the illusion of teen talent has been destroyed.
I was first taken by this show when its pilot was aired after the American Idol final a few years ago. What struck me as a childhood singer and actor was the extraordinary performances by these kids.
When you discover, however, that these teens are played by actors and actresses ranging in age from 21 to 29, the show becomes far less amazing.
Truth be told, this former Gleek missed all but the first few episodes of this season.
It seems like many Americans, I haven't missed much.
(H/T Big Hollywood)