This past week, network programming waved goodbye to the 15-year-old Spike TV network and officially welcomed the re-branded Paramount Network. Other than a new association with a major film company, the quiet premiere of Paramount Network doesn’t initially forecast any waves made against the primetime giants. The new network does, however, show exciting promise– hinting at something a little more eclectic, inclusive and female.
The original Spike TV brand was characteristically dude. Claiming to be the first ever “network for men”, the channel broadcasted UFC and WWE events, competitive reality series like Bar Rescue, raunchy adult animated sitcoms and habitual re-runs of Cops. Spike TV even launched their illustrious Guys Choice Awards, the first ever of its kind to celebrate masculinity and hot chicks. Ya know, guy stuff.
Recent social dialogue bred some disdain for Spike’s one-dimensional brand. Viacom, the media conglomerate in charge of Spike TV, most likely recognized their initial appeal was not only growing stale, but becoming less lucrative. Viacom sister networks were also struggling with certain programs outside of Spike TV. More dramatic and directional scripted series appeared out of place on channels like MTV and TVLand– and certainly did not belong on the macho platform of Spike TV.
The new and improved Paramount Network is meant to identify more closely with the highly regarded Paramount Pictures, guaranteeing many initial positive changes. As the official switch has been made and the marketing campaign is now well underway, a surprising (but delightful) target audience has risen: the female twenty-something.
Paramount Network’s most marketed premiere this spring is the television adaption of Heathers. Indeed, the mean girls before Mean Girls classic is getting the series treatment– with some unrecognizable variations.
As the school administrator said in the trailer– fat kids can be popular. The Heathers of 2018 create an explosive world of satirical social dialogue, permitting the LGBTQ, the teens of color and the plus-size to have the upper-hand. Where the 1988 Heathers contorted teen suicide for its own zany commentary, Paramount Network offers the same style of tongue-in-cheek black comedy to tackle social politics present today. Issues, it should be considered, that are very much at the hands of young women. Presently, females in early adulthood are faced with navigating a culture of social agenda; a millennial experience that is subsequently becoming reflected in scripted series like Heathers.
Any cult-classic movie buff would be excited to know that an original Heather, Shannen Doherty, has a guest slot on the new series. I believe this casting choice to be a strategic one; a move that exercises Paramount’s ability to sprinkle star power over its television endeavors. The Hollywood appeal seems to be the hook for Paramount Network’s second upcoming original series, American Woman.
Originally slated for TVLand, American Woman found a sweet spot with a shifted premiere date on the Paramount Network. The series is not only produced by, but inspired by the life of Beverly Hills Housewife Kyle Richards. If you are also a devoted RHOBH fan, the fruition of American Woman was a long process, but inevitably one we could not wait for. The routine Housewife drama that unfolds between Kyle Richards and her famous siblings stems from their tumultuous Beverly Hills childhood. Often referencing the legends of her past, Richards set out to create a series that embodied her luxe and loopy upbringing.
Helping bring Richard’s comedic memoir to life, none other than 90’s babes Alicia Silverstone AND Mena Survari. While I am tickled pink with the star-studded cast of American Woman, I had to be sold on the production. Much to my satisfaction, American Woman appears to be as effortless as it is endearing. There is a necessity for female-driven experiential fiction– namely stories that explain female formative years. Kyle Richards has shared her experience in crafting character Bonnie Nolan, inspired by her mother, intending to depict the dimensions of maternal and female strength, including the sweet rough patches along the way. Honesty and heart mixed with fanciful 1970’s quirkiness will ultimately make American Woman a dramedy suited comfortably for young women.
Though the two aforementioned series obviously are female-friendly, Paramount Network’s Waco is an exciting endeavor on the channel for different reasons.
True crime is undeniably the wave these days. From The People vs. O.J. to Gianni Versace all the way to the latest, bizarro season of American Horror Story— people can’t seem to get enough of semi-biopic crime retellings. Paramount Network did well to hop aboard the trend and produce its own true crime miniseries Waco, chronicling the federal stand-off between ATF officers and cult leader David Koresh.
With stunning production quality reminiscent of ABC’s American Crime, Waco already holds its own as a limited drama series. The new network’s presentation of Waco among its airer, more fictional scripted series is a bold one, but it sends a message.
Young women today are not static in their interests. Programs on VH1 and MTV age out quickly because the majority of their female demographic is accounting for a more compelling viewership elsewhere. Females in their 20’s are more passionate and readily informed than ever; their patronage to television programming should be to networks that supports their diversity of interest. Housing a conglomeration of true crime drama, heartfelt sitcom and irreverent anthology all on one Paramount Network may be a start to capturing the female twenty-something’s attention.
And if you are apprehensive about the rebranding, don’t worry. Lip Sync Battle isn’t going anywhere.