4 out of the top 10-rated shows were animation <– That’s what I wrote last Monday. This week is no different, except the top-rated show on a Sunday prime-time slot is Family Guy – which in case you don’t know, its an animated comedy for adults.
Is this all a big Coincidence? Or do people actually like funny animated shows? Well, numbers don’t lie. Hopefully other networks, especially Spanish-language, get hip to this trend that has been trending for years. Just ask The Simpsons – they’ve been on the air for 25 years and still killing on the ratings!
Maybe they think it’s just a phase, just like hip hop and rap music…
(See ratings below…)
Preliminary National Ratings
Show (Network) Rating(18-49) / Share Viewers(Millions)
- Family Guy (Fox) 2.5/7 4.9
- The Amazing Race (CBS) 2.3/6 9.1
- Once Upon a Time (ABC) 2.0/5 7.0
- The Simpsons (Fox) 2.0/6 4.5
- American Dad (Fox) 1.9/5 4.0
- Bob’s Burgers (Fox) 1.7/5 3.5
- Revenge (ABC) 1.7/4 5.9
- 60 Minutes (CBS) 1.5/5 11.6
- America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC) 1.5/5 6.4
- The Mentalist (CBS) 1.5/4 8.7
Data provided by Nielsen
Once you have your idea ready to go, it’s time to set up a meeting, but oh-oh, how do you get this done? There are a few traditional ways of getting this done, but don’t be afraid to try your own creative methods of setting up a meeting. Your goal should be to have the opportunity to successfully pitch your idea.
Beyond coming up with the idea, the second most creative thing you will probably have to face when pitching an idea to a TV network is in how you get a meeting. Getting a meeting is an artwork of its own, and you must chose what works for you. There is no right or wrong way to get a meeting, as long as you get to successfully pitch an idea. So here are some tips, but be creative and think beyond what other people have done. Maybe what works for you hasn’t been done yet!
1) Get an Agent, Manager or Attorney – There are many articles online on how to get one of these key people who will (or should) be able to set a meeting for you. Find out how to get one, and get one if you can. This probably will be your easiest way in the door.
2) Contact the Networks Directly – This method is quite tricky and difficult. You don’t want to ruin your chance of a meeting if you seem unaware of what are the guidelines to set up a meeting with the network. You just can’t call up and ask to speak with the programming executive (who’s usually the person who will evaluate your idea) and expect him or her to say, sure come in this afternoon. Yet, to contradict myself, this has happened before, but it is very rare. First, you probably won’t get them on the phone. You most likely will get an assistant of some sort. TREAT THE ASSISTANT WELL! They hold the power of connecting you to the person that you need.
3) Attend Networking Events – This method is a bit difficult as well, but a lot safer, since you’ll hopefully be in a business environment where meeting solicitations are common.
4) Stalk The Network Executive – I suggest you DON’T go this route.
A lot of people forget that The Simpsons had an album out called The Simpsons Sing the Blues, and Bart Simpson had a hit called Deep, Deep, Trouble – which was written by Matt Groening and DJ Jazzy Jeff in the 90’s. The song, along with an animated music video, was released as a single from the album in 1991. Bart Simpsons made it to the charts in several countries around the world, including the top ten in Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Bart Simpson opened a lot of doors for White Rappers.
Preparing you TV show idea means that you will write, re-write your concept and have something to show the networks. You have to show them what your idea is, in one way or another.
The fact is that ideas are everywhere and everyone has them, so that doesn’t make an idea that important. Actually there are so many ideas in the world that they’re pretty much close to worthless. This holds true for TV show ideas. It’s not very difficult to come up with a good TV show idea, and pretty much anyone can come up with one with a little thought. So how do you make your idea BETTER than the other millions of ideas out there? How do you present this idea in a way that seems like it’s the GREATEST THING EVER?
It starts out with preparation. You just can’t think of an idea and then call up the TV networks and tell them about it. I mean, you could, but probably won’t get your very far – even if it truly is a great idea. Networks don’t buy ideas, they instead buy “the thinker behind the idea”. This is important to understand because if you don’t prepare your idea in a way that showcases YOU in the best light possible, then it makes your idea untrustworthy.
So how do you prepare your idea?
1) Put it in Writing – This means thoroughly writing down you concept down to every miniscule detail. You’ll notice as you are writing, that more elements to your idea start to surface. Write these down too. This is an extremely important step in preparing your idea. Your writing will demonstrate that you have thought about all possible angles of your idea.
2) Re-Write It – Don’t skip this step, since this might very well be what makes your idea something worthwhile. Read your idea, let some people you trust hear it or read it and ask for feedback. Read or watch similar ideas and dissect what makes them work. Do all the research you can about your concept. Now re-write your idea. If you did all your due diligence, now you should have a new insight or something different to add or take away from your idea. KEEP IT TO THE POINT – Don’t take your idea in all sorts of direction. Keep it focused and remember this rule: LESS IS MORE!
3) Show It – A lot of people think they can just take their idea to the networks and that they will immediately get millions of dollars to make the idea come to life. If you have this in mind, you might want to reconsider your pursuit of success in the TV industry in general. It most likely not work the way you plan. The fact is today selling a TV show is quite competitive. People are taking fully produced TV series to TV Networks. The advantage is that having something already done will minimize the network’s risks.
This leaves you to having something to show. That means a video, a trailer, some production picture, something! Invest in making your own idea happen. If you believe in your idea being so great, then it shouldn’t be difficult for you to do whatever it take to bring it to life. After all, if you wouldn’t put your own money in your idea, what makes you think that a TV network will want to?
When you invest time and money into your TV show idea it shows the network that you are serious and committed. It also allows them to visualize your idea within their programming. Because remember that when they buy a TV show, they have to turn around and sell it to advertisers. If they think that advertisers won’t like your idea, they probably won’t buy it. That’s why you have to “wow” them with your presentation. You have to go in there prepared with something to SHOW. It’s a TV “SHOW” and not a book proposal. You have to show them your idea is awesome and that advertisers would be all over it. The network executives become your audience, so they have to like what you present to them, before they can even start thinking about buying your pitch.
DO NOT use the “I don’t have money to produce anything” excuse. That’s the lamest excuse you can use, ever. If you think you have a million dollars waiting on the other side of a door, wouldn’t you do whatever it took to get that door opened? Of course! Same with your TV show idea. Use your credit cards, mortgage your house, borrow money, plain and simply go above and beyond to make your idea happen – of course, only if you think the idea is worth it. The television industry is a risk-taker’s dwelling. If you don’t have the guts to take risks, you should probably get a nine to five job somewhere and be content.
Of course you could put together a Powerpoint presentation and show them that. That might work – BUT if you really want to maximize your chances, take more than that into the meeting. A well put one-minute video trailer of your idea in motion is a lot more powerful than a 100-page Powerpoint presentation.
Who’s allowed to make fun of you? That’s what it comes down to in television political correctness. This post isn’t to debate the rights and wrongs of racism, but instead I’d like to point out the double-standards of the acceptability of racism in television. I personally think that the right amount of racism at the right time could be quite funny. Sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves in order to realize that maybe we could improve our behavior.
But who’s allowed to make fun of an individual or group of people? Could a White person make fun of a Black or Latino person – without repercussions? Well, it already happens all the time in Family Guy and South Park. On the other side of the coin, could a Latino or Black person make fun of Asians? or Middle Easterners? or White People? Yes, of course, but you only see that in comedy clubs and random clips online. Which brings me to my point… Everyone makes fun of everyone, BUT, Whites have a bigger stage to poke fun at other races, while in contrast, the rest of us have a limited reach.
The most popular animated shows on FOX are all predominantly written by Whites. Once in a while (if not more often) you’ll see a racist joke here and there, and I don’t see a problem with that. I actually find some of it funny; BUT, my issue is that other races lack the opportunity to have that huge FOX stage to do the same thing in return.
For example, Seth MacFarlane is given the opportunity to have Family Guy on the air – and I loved what that show has done for adult comedy animation. It basically took the Simpsons and made it seem like a Nickelodeon kid’s show. Yet, when it’s time to replicate the success of Family Guy, one of the other shows that Seth MacFarlane develops is The Cleveland Show. Why!?
Out of so many great characters ready for a spin-off from Family Guy, they choose the Black caricature? Were they trying to attract a Black audience? If so, it didn’t work. I don’t know many of my Black friends that watch The Cleveland Show. Still, the show is so similar to Family Guy that I have never even found my own interest or taken the time to actually watch it.
Yet… what I’m getting at is that they have the White showrunners – Seth MacFarlane, Mike Henry and Richard Appel – developing a Black caricature. To me this is the equivalent of Blackface in cartoon form. They make a Black character for White people to laugh at. Is this okay? Nobody seems to care, mainly because “it’s only a cartoon”.
What if the same thing happened in real life, and there were White guys with their faces painted Black on prime-time TV? Would it be okay then? What’s the difference right now? Cleveland’s face is painted black, isn’t it? He’s created and portrayed by White guys, isn’t he?
Well, I’m not one for censorship. If people want to be racist, I rather they’d be racist to my face than behind my back. What I don’t stand for is the inequality of opportunity to have “all-inclusive” racism in television. Is it possible for a Black or Latino have the same stage and do the same thing? FOX doesn’t seem to think so. If there’s going to be a Latino animated show, they will probably have Seth MacFarlane be the showrunner, and they’ll just tell him “You do it, Seth. You’ve met Latinos before. Do a show about them, too.”
The other half of the problem is that the smaller Black and Latino TV networks are so busy trying to mimic the larger White networks that they would never create something as original as Family Guy. A lot of these smaller TV networks that supposedly target Blacks or Latinos operate out of pure pandering, and are usually ran by White executives that don’t understand the culture they’re targeting. Overall, there’s a lack of real vision and risk-taking in the part of these outlets, which in turn affects all of us minorities, since our voices are hampered and smothered by gutless, bland, and unoriginal programming. It saddens me to see great potential distribution become a waste of broadcast time.
Back to my initial question, who’s allowed to make fun of you? The answer: It’s up to you. We all have our own tolerance gage. Yet, I believe in fighting fire with fire. I don’t want to shut down The Cleveland Show for being racist. I rather create something that will equally compete and let the viewers decide how much of it they want. That’s how my new animated show “Counterfit” came to be. Counterfit is a show about a guy with nothing to lose, and fixing injustices his way.
Most people that have been discriminated in their lives find Counterfit hilarious. Why? Because they understand why he acts the way he acts. On the other hand, there are some people who find Counterfit uncomfortable to watch – and this is something I like. When Alfonso Amey and I were throwing this idea around, we knew that it would have an impact – not necessarily all positive – but an impact, nonetheless.
Because the reality is, why is it okay for Family Guy and other White animations to portray Latinos and Blacks in a stereotypical fashion, but when it’s time to reverse the roles and portray Whites in a weaker position, it immediately becomes “uncomfortable”?
If we can watch a Black man get relentlessly beaten by cops for 5 minutes on the six o’clock news in real life, then we should be able to watch the same thing reversed in a fictional cartoon.
Check out Counterfit “The Neighborhood Dude” and you be the judge… I just hope he gets the same fair judgement The Cleveland Show gets.
If you want to sell a television show to a network then you should check this out.