tv: gay shows a no-go for Logo?
I’ve been reading a few articles‡ over the past few days about a recent press release from Logo announcing a programming change which they call “expanded” and in response to a “culture shift”. The long and short of it is, a strong de-emphasis on shows featuring LGBTQ characters, stories and interest and a move towards a slate of what look like the same style of reality shows you might see on any other network… and RuPaul’s Drag Race and Drag U, of course.
It reminds me of when MTV made the–initially–subtle shift from any genre of music video at any time to genre-specific time-slots to aid with marketing and ad placement and how that started the eventual decline in music videos towards scripted series and now pretty much all reality series. Except where MTV spawned multiple networks where viewers–who hadn’t graduated to VH1 and now couldn’t anyway due to the same programming shift–could find music videos again, Logo leaves its viewers with no where to tune in aside from other networks. And if a network doesn’t appear to provide programming of any interest to its target audience, how long will it remain before undergoing a massive rebranding like Court TV became truTV or Sci-Fi Channel became Sci-Fi and now Syfy. 🙄 Or better yet, Viacom’s own The Nashville Network evolving into The National Network which we know today as Spike.
And something about the language used in the press release just bugs me:
Logo is evolving its programming focus with new series and development deals that reflect gays and lesbians’ increasing integration into mainstream culture today and their desire for shows that appeal to their multiple interests.
I guess I’m imagining how horrifically this type of press release would go over if any other targeted programming network tried to say the same thing because their audience were being “integrated into mainstream culture”… Looking at Viacom’s other television networks, what if the BET family announced less Black/African-American-oriented programming, or Spike made a major shift towards programming more likely to be found on Lifetime. I’d suggest that Comedy Central might announce they were going to show programs that aren’t funny, but they sort of do that already.
I believe Sterling’s rant from Jeffrey1 sums it up nicely with regards to integrating into mainstream culture:2
It seemed that Logo remained one of those television “safe spaces”3 where you could see programming with gay characters that weren’t always stereotypes or accessories. Travel shows and news that focused on queer culture and interests. I assume their internet outlets will continue as normal,4 but I suppose it would be too much to hope that there’s a “Logo Classic” in the works. Or that they would see this as an opportunity to appeal to a still-overlooked demographic that may be swayed by individual shows on other networks, but would still come back to watching Logo if it offered more. They’ve had the chance to expand their programming so that it appeals to a much wider swath of the LGBTQ spectrum or buffer their line up with news and political shows, but instead decided to go for quick and catty reality.
If they aren’t getting viewers and decide to change their lineup in an effort to increase that, I can’t blame them. But it’s obvious that the direction they chose to go in isn’t winning them any fans just yet. And based on Viacom’s history, if I were them, I wouldn’t go ordering any new merchandise with their logo–no pun intended–on it. If viewers don’t respond to this shift, 8-12 months down the line we could see a press release announcing another change to both their programming and their name.
1 Which you will now be even less likely to see on Logo.
2 Video should start at 2:18. If it doesn’t, blame Google.
3 Much like the decline of “gay ghettos” in cities across the country, some might argue that they’re not needed anymore, but I think they still have value to the community that’s being lost by their disappearance.
‡ Logo’s New Programming Slate Reveals Shift Away From Gay-Centric Shows
Logo Network bails on gay-centric TV programming
It’s Official – Logo Dumps All Gay Programming from Network
Are Women To Blame for Gay Network Logo Straightening Up?
R.I.P., Gay TV: A Not-So-Sad Reality
Logo broadens programming