Dear Network TV,

Every year, people bitch and moan about you consistently failing to come up with a solid lineup of new and original shows. To make matters worse, after this fall season, you have actually renewed a majority of these crappy shows. What’s the deal, network TV? What’s with the lack of innovative content?

Let’s face it — the only thing you know how to do is follow trends in entertainment. Vampires became popular, you fired back with “Vampire Dairies.” Searching for the next biggest talent becomes all the rage so here comes “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent” and many more knockoffs. “Law & Order” does well and you make 50 spin-offs, including the latest clone “Law & Order: LA.” Retreading is pretty much the game you play nowadays, which just plain sucks.

Maybe you feel jealous? You used to get all the attention and now cable and the Internet have expanded into your turf. The average viewer has more channels and media outlets than ever. We no longer care about the actual channel our show is on, as long as we can watch great content. The old idea that your biggest value is access for everyone is bull.

The fact is that at least 80 percent of us Americans have more than five stations at our disposal and will go where the content is best. Even your old friend Conan O’Brien has left you for the greener pastures of TBS. You think he’ll be less successful on a smaller network? Viewers love him and his personality and will watch him no matter what station he is on.

To keep us, you need to create content people find interesting. But you seem to be leaving that up to the cable market. Showtime, AMC and HBO have such great shows because of their casts, overt adult themes, high-paid directors and cinematic editing — but primarily because the plotlines are innovative, original and thought-provoking.

Instead of spending money on remakes of past shows, why not try picking up pilots that make viewers want to think? You don’t need Martin Scorsese or Oscar-winning actresses; you just need new ideas and good writing. In fact, it should be your duty as the one TV outlet that reaches all Americans to give us stimulating ideas that aren’t just fat people losing weight or celebrities trying to reboot their careers by doing the cha-cha.

Yes, we have come to expect a higher quality writing, set design, acting, etc. from our TV. But isn’t that good for the progression of culture? For too long, you’ve been getting by on what you know will bring in the ratings and sticking to that bare minimum. You have casual viewers, not crazed fans.

These cable and satellite niche markets are starting to take over your precious audience. Every time one of them comes up with a brand-spanking-new idea for a show, they take a little more of your audience away. Think about it — our generation grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, “Saved by the Bell” and “TGIF” on the networks and learned to schedule our lives around them. Nowadays, kids watch channels like Disney and you networks literally rerun the same shows on your channels. To kids, you represent just another way to get the same shows they could easily find somewhere else. It’s lazy.

Instead of being the great providers of cultural you once were, you’re now headed down the path to mediocrity and boring repetition. The thrill of watching a set of shows on any given night on your channels will soon be lost if you keep creating shit TV. You’ll lose your importance sooner than you think. If the CW falls in the forest but nobody was watching, who cares?

This, network TV, is a plea for you to work a little bit harder to try and stay relevant. By copying old ideas over and over again, you’re pretty much telling us that this is the way it’s going to be from now on. And we will leave, have no doubt about that.


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