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Question of the week: are people stupid?

Posted on November 17, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Mike and Molly

Ratings are a bit of a blunt tool but normally they can be quite useful. I find that in a large majority of cases, the shows I do like other people like, too, and they go on to survive for a few seasons, while the shows I spot as turkeys from the outset generally last a season at most thanks to other people agreeing with me.

But there are exceptions, usually on US network CBS, but also elsewhere. I thought Rubicon got really good towards the end, but it has just been cancelled (although I don't blame AMC or the audience since you had to have a hell of a lot of viewing stamina to reach the end, after a really slow start by the show) and there are shows that mysteriously do well, such as Rules of Engagement , for reasons I can't fathom.

Case in point: Mike and Molly and Community. Now, Mike and Molly is a heinously bad show, a cornucopia of fat-jokes, bad acting and general nastiness from the producers of Two and a Half Men. Ugh. Community is, of course, a brilliantly funny comedy, filled with pop culture references, sight gags, interesting characters, entertaining situations and actual hilarity. Yet what are the two shows' ratings? On Monday, Mike and Molly got 12.3 million viewers, a growth of 9% on the previous week; on Thursday, Community gets about 4.8 million viewers.

Now obviously, days of the week get different ratings, they're in different time slots, with different lead-in shows, Community is on NBC, the virtual home of low ratings, while Mike and Molly is on number one network CBS. But all the same, this isn't an isolated problem. We all know low-rated but good shows and high-rated but rubbish shows from both sides of the Atlantic (and elsewhere). So I have to ask:

Are people stupid? Is the ratio of stupid people to non-stupid people in this world 12.3:4.8 or 2.6:1? And is there any way to fix this, given that low ratings will lead to death for the smarter shows, while high ratings will ensure dumb shows survive?

As always, leave a comment with your answer or a link to your answer on your own blog

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