NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt recently complained that there aren’t enough shows on TV that the entire family can enjoy together. A prime example of this trend are the programs on his his own network.
Robert Greenblatt seems a bit confused.
Speaking recently in Rolling Stone, the chairman of NBC stated that TV needs more family-friendly programming. In fact, the network boss even lamented that “uplifting movies that the entire family can enjoy together [are] a genre of programming that still seems largely untapped on television.”
Undoubtedly, Greenblatt is right. But this begs the question: WHY are “uplifting” programs for “the entire family” “largely untapped?”
Why not ask Robert Greenblatt? Previously, the NBC chief defended horrifically gory programming like the serial killer dramas Hannibal and Aquarius (the latter of which exploits the real-life crimes of the infamous, still-living mass murderer Charles Manson), and the rape-and-child-molester drama Law & Order: SVU with the claim that networks “have to be provocative and do things to surprise people.” (Apparently, “provocative” automatically equals “grotesquely violent.”)
Of course, in today’s media climate, what would really “surprise people” is putting on inspirational, family-friendly programming. Greenblatt should know this — especially since Greenblatt himself has noted that NBC “used to be one of the most innovative, acclaimed networks in America.” That is true; under its president Grant Tinker, in the 1980s NBC brought Americans comedies like Cheers and Family Ties, and top-notch dramas like Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere — shows that actually appealed to the great mass of American families, not a tiny niche audience of sex-and-gore fanatics.
And a tiny niche audience is exactly who NBC’s current sex-and-gore output is appealing to…and Robert Greenblatt knows it. As the NBC chair admitted last year, the TV programs most acclaimed by those in Hollywood are
little, tiny niche shows that we all think in our bubble of New York and LA, are massive, cultural game changers. In fact, my family in Indiana and Illinois have never heard of them. They didn’t get it. They didn’t care… The entire country, in spite of the fact that we live in a very liberal business, does not want to see lots of sexuality. They do not want to hear language. They do not want to see serial killers running around being the centerpieces of shows. They don’t watch those kinds of shows.
It is the very nadir of hypocrisy for the chairman of a major broadcast network to complain about a lack of family-friendly entertainment on TV, when he himself has deliberately chosen to flood the public airwaves with graphic shows about rapists and serial killers. If Robert Greenblatt truly wants to change the fact that “uplifting” programming “that the entire family can enjoy together” is “largely untapped,” he might begin by looking in the mirror.