Showrunners! Take the Ken Levine Challenge

We, um, dare ya.

Yeah, you heard us.


Open Letter to Current Showrunners
by Ken Levine

This is a serious request. I would love a current showrunner to challenge me. I would love to hear an opposing view. If you care to write I will post your response without touching a word. I make this offer not to be argumentative or stir up controversy. It’s that I really would like to understand your take.

Here’s my point: After a fairly long dry spell situation comedy has had a recent resurgence. Thanks in part to THE BIG BANG THEORY and MODERN FAMILY, networks have once again embraced the genre. Unfortunately, the new comedies are all doing horribly. Some are already cancelled. Others have had their production orders reduced drastically. Every week we read that this sitcom or that sitcom has hit all-time lows. A few have even dipped below a one share. A oneshare!  That is almost unimaginable.   Clearly, the audience is rejecting sitcoms in the form they’re currently in. Fox continues to cling to NEW GIRL and THE MINDY PROJECT despite dreadful ratings. CBS has the most success programming comedies but even their moderate hit shows plummet when removed from cushy time slots.

A hit comedy is a) a cash cow, and b) a rating juggernaut. You can seemingly rerun them forever because audiences will cheerfully watch episodes they’ve seen before, even multiple times. But if year after year everything fails, at some point the networks are going to say, “How long can we keep making Edsels?”

My point of view: Not only are most of these shows not funny. They don’t even try to be funny. I’ve heard showrunners say they don’t wantjokes or they don’t want the audience to suspect a joke is coming.

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