Why The Middleman is Worth Saving
In the world of television, it’s not a question of judging a book by its cover; rather, it’s about judging a show by its network.
For How I Met Your Mother, the “CBS is for lame people” stigma amongst some younger viewers keeps them from giving the show a decent shot, and in the process a show that should have been a big success from the beginning took three seasons and stuntcasting to guarantee itself a fourth. The show should have been 30 Rock before there was 30 Rock, and yet still quite a few people who would love this show are staying away.
And this summer, another example has popped up which is even more apparent. When The Middleman debuted back in June, I called it “a science fiction comedy with plenty to enjoy.” Since that point, I’ve grown to love the show, even those elements that I wasn’t so keen on in the pilot. The show has gone to great strides to build great characters and craft strong stories which serve their purpose, all with an added dose of pop culture humour to add to the show’s general charm.
But, a lot of people haven’t seen that. When someone posted about the show’s debut on a popular message board, these are amongst the first responses:
“You piqued my interest until I heard ABC Family.”
“No wonder I couldn’t find the show anywhere last night. ABC Family huh? Probably pass.”
And therein lies The Middleman’s problem: it’s not that ABC Family is a bad network, as Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Formerly an executive producer on Lost) has nothing but good things to say about the show’s treatment on the network side of the equation. Rather, they are a network with absolutely zero cache with the genre audience that the show is appealing towards. In fact, I’d say that they have negative interest: these people are not just unlikely to watch a show on ABC Family, but they are likely to actively avoid such a show thanks to its network affiliation. This means that any attempt to increase the show’s audience, which is miniscule if stable thanks to such issues, is going to take a whole lot of convincing to an audience that has never given the network a fair chance.
But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t trying, and it certainly doesn’t mean that anyone reading this who has yet to sample The Middleman shouldn’t immediately do so by searching through their on-screen guide, unblocking ABC Family, and opening your mind to a new kind of summer show – or, even better, buy it on iTunes, so you can bypass the stigma altogether.
Because this is a show that needs, and deserves, the viewers.