Desperate networks

Entertainment Weekly reports that due to the success of “Desperate Housewives,” the networks have some 20 prime-time soaps in the works for next year. Then comes a dumb quote from a TV agent that I knew was coming: “When you see ‘Housewives’ growing in the ratings each week, it shows the entire community that there is an appetite for female, character-driven shows.”

No, moron. It shows that there is an appetite for GOOD shows.

Every time there’s a new hit series, the TV execs decide that means audiences want that type of show. “Friends” made waves, so obviously people are clamoring for sitcoms about unmarried 20-somethings, right? And when “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was huge, that was clearly a sign that audiences hungered for game shows. TV execs figured people wanted these types of programs SO MUCH that they’d even watch bad ones. So everyone rushed to make imitations of the popular shows, and almost all of them failed. Now everyone will repeat their past failures by trying to duplicate the success of “Desperate Housewives” via more whimsical prime-time female-driven soap operas.

Don’t they get it? Audiences don’t sit around thinking, “Gee, I wish the prime-time soap opera would come back into vogue!” Or, “It sure has been a while since there’s been a good sitcom about a fat, working-class husband with a skinny, pretty wife.”

No, what people think is, “I wish there were more GOOD shows on TV, instead of just crap.” And: “I wish all the crappy shows didn’t have a dozen other crappy shows exactly like them.” It’s not that people like “comedies” or “dramas” or whatever other classifications you want to make. People will watch anything, regardless of genre, as long as it’s good.

Look at the current top 20 shows, ignoring specials or sports: “CSI,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Without a Trace,” “Survivor,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Lost,” “Cold Case,” “60 Minutes,” “ER,” “The Apprentice,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “NCIS,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU.” You’ve got six crime dramas, three reality shows, two sitcoms, a soap opera, a news program, a medical drama, and an adventure drama. That’s an extremely wide range of tastes. The only thing they all have in common is that they’re quality shows. Well, except “Two and a Half Men,” but there’s always an anomaly.