Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
COVID can stop anything… except an awards show. 'Tis the season.
As the Golden Globes proved last week, it's difficult for even the most talented hosts to pull off an entertaining three hour show celebrating the finest in the industry. Ratings are low for a reason.
Where did this awards show obsession come from, and why did viewers stop caring? It wasn't COVID… it was accessibility. Back in the day when the Oscars got numbers that rivaled the Super Bowl, that viewing experience was a unique one. The red carpet provided the only access to the biggest movie stars. They were not "just like us." And it worked.
These days, a quick internet search provides photos and the latest dirt on your favorite celeb. With so many ways to become famous, it's difficult to stand out from amongst the crowd. And it's not all that special anymore. Awards shows fight an uphill battle when you can jump on Tik Tok to be entertained.
This coming weekend's awards shows have actually managed to change with the times — The Grammys and The Kids Choice Awards. Ratings might not show it, but these extravaganzas have never been about who wins or loses. They're all about entertainment, the reason that we watch TV in the first place.
Nickelodeon saw an opening 34 years ago and ripped a page out of the MTV playbook. Create an awards show for the kids demographic and advertisers will jump right in. Not only that, any celeb in TV, movies and music that yearns for this audience will show up too. Win-win-win.
Childhood Nick star Kenan Thompson is set to host The 2021 Kids’ Choice Awards, which will still have the slime and meaningless trophies for those hyping their latest projects. The vibe will be light, kids will scream, and surprise A-listers will show up (probably for their own kids who are Nick fans) to be slimed. It's always about the spectacle and never about the blimps.
When it comes to the EGOTs, The Grammys were first to recognize its format desperately needed to change. A host's monologue was followed by tons of gramophone presentations for all genres of music with some performances scattered in. If you waited a couple hours, maybe you saw your favorite band perform a hit. That had to go.
Trevor Noah hosts the 63rd annual presentation which shifted back from January to March. With all due respect to Trevor, it doesn't matter who the host is. The Grammys have transformed into a 3-hour concert featuring all types of acts. You can thank Dick Clark and his American Music Awards for the programming nudge. That meaningless awards show emphasized the value of big stars performing rather than making an acceptance speech.
The Grammys learned that lesson. If you're not up on today's music, there's a tribute to a legendary artist. New musicians team with old ones. Eventually Trevor and some music stars will get to the awards, but they really don't matter. It's all about the music… as it should be.
Awards shows simply need to keep in mind that most of us read about who wins the next day. We are stuck at home courtesy of COVID, so please… entertain us!
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
The Masked Singer (FOX) - One of the stupidest premises I've ever heard premieres its 5th season on Wednesday. Who's the dummy now?
Stay Out Of The Fucking Attic (SHUDDER) - Now that's a title. Thursday night.
Genera+ion (HBO MAX) - Euphoria worked, so let's follow some high school students experimenting with everything on Thursday. Note the hip plus sign in the title.
THIS WEEK’S PICKS
This week features a German houseboat, junior college basketball, and a big bracket…
The Houseboat (NETFLIX)
Tuesday, March 9th
If it's German and has "boat" in the title, I'm there.
Country singer Gunter Gabriel, considered to be the German Johnny Cash, lived on his houseboat Magdeburg for 20 years before his death. Two musicians and friends buy the boat and spend two tough years restoring it to its past glory.
Building a concert space and place of retreat on the water is no small task. Das Hausboot is a four episode renovation project that proves to be transformative in ways you'd never expect. Watch trailer.
Last Chance U: Basketball (NETFLIX)
Wednesday, March 10th
The Emmy winning Last Chance U told the story of junior college football. The Emmy winning Cheer told the story of competitive college cheerleading. Next stop - Last Chance U: Basketball. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The East Los Angeles College Huskies quest for a state championship is profiled in typical Last Chance fashion. The team consists of Division 1 recruits who have one final shot at redemption to fulfill their dreams of getting to the NBA.
I've raved about the previous Last Chance series, and this take on JuCo basketball follows the same winning formula. You feel for the players as they battle circumstances on and off the court. Head coach John Mosley seeks that elusive title and has to overcome some unique obstacles to get there.
NCAA Selection Show (CBS)
Sunday, March 14th 6pm ET
It's simple – a list of 68 colleges that have been chosen to participate in this year's college basketball national championship tournament.
Any college hoops fan wants to know if their school got in and the college they'll be playing against. CBS takes full advantage of that desire and takes something that should last for 5 minutes and bloats it into an hour.
It's always fun to watch a college team stand up and cheer when their name is inevitably called. The attempt to stretch the filling of a bracket to sixty minutes is an exercise in television production. Let's dance!
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Wear two masks. Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.