Culture Clips: Why Are Political Dramas Tanking?


Have American viewers grown weary of fictional political dramas on TV? The answer seems to be yes, according to a Huffpost article analyzing declining ratings for the genre.

Writer Stephanie Marcus notes that virtually every politically themed series—including Scandal, The Americans, Homeland, Madame Secretary, Quantico and Designated Survivor—has seen viewership decline since the election of Donald Trump as president. The article speculates that increased news viewership may be one explanation. Another hypothesis: Viewers are simply weary of political drama altogether, both in the real world and in fictional ones. These shows, Marcus says, are “definitely feeling the effects of political fatigue.”

Meanwhile, comedian Kathy Griffin sparked near universal outrage for publishing a picture of herself on Twitter holding what appears to be President Donald Trump’s decapitated head. Salon writer Matthew Rosza opined, “You have to give Kathy Griffin credit for this much: She managed to unite the country in disgust over the Tyler Shields photograph showing her holding a bloodied and quite possibly decapitated Donald Trump head.”

Griffin quickly removed the photo and issued an apologetic message and an accompanying video on Twitter, in which she says, “I sincerely apologize. I am just now seeing the reaction to these images. … I went way too far.”

Elsewhere in the realm of social media, a new survey of nearly 6,000 Millennials by LendEDU finds that 40% of them report getting the majority of their news from Facebook. Mike Brown, a research analyst for the student loan refinancing company, told Fox Business, “LendEDU certainly expected people to get their news from Facebook, but we did not think the percentage, 40%, was going to be as high as it was. With all of the recent news regarding fake news articles running rampant on the social networking site, this is certainly a worrisome trend developing where consumers rely on Facebook stories, accurate or not, to keep them informed.”

Another survey, this one in the UK, found that Instagram was the most damaging social media site when it comes to young people’s mental health. “With its almost universal reach and unprecedented ability to connect people from all walks of life, social media holds the potential to wield a mighty power as a positive catalyst for good mental health,” the study’s authors said. “But there are also risks…which if not addressed and countered, can and have already opened the door for social media to cause significant problems for young people’s mental health and well-being.”

Social media is also taking a toll on couples’ physical intimacy these days, according to research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Young couples are having sex less frequently than they did in the late 1990s, and interaction with social media may be one factor in that downward trend. Instead of interacting meaningfully with each other at the end of the day, many couples are turning to online distractions instead. Beverly Hills couple therapist Fran Walfish said of the study, “Social media has become a force to be reckoned with.”

Relevant writer Joe Terrell wonders about the toll our love affair with social media is taking on our spiritual lives, too. And in a deep dive into the secret online lives of teens published at Wired’s UK site, Chris Stokel-Walker notes, “Britain’s teenagers are growing up in a new online world, rife with anxiety-inducing social pressures, bullying, and security issues. What’s it like to grow up online?”

On the more practical, helpful side of this story, ABC News published its article, “Resources for gamers, parents wanting to break kids’ extreme electronics usage habits.”

Elsewhere in the news this week, Page Six reports that fans of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who committed suicide in a hotel room at Detroit’s MGM grand last week, are trying to book the room he was staying in. Yaron Steinbuch writes, “The interest in Room 1136 is the latest example of so-called dark tourism, which caters to the death-obsessed.”

Finally, Alamo Draft House execs might have thought they were doing their female customers a favor by announcing a women-only screening for the forthcoming film Wonder Woman (in theaters later this week). Suffice it to say that the response to this marketing strategy probably wasn’t exactly what they were looking for.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Julienne Dy More than 1 year ago
Okay, the women only screening idea was poorly conceived, but at the same time, would the idea be sparking this much outrage if the movie in question was, oh, I don't know, Twilight?  Fifty Shades of Gray?  The Notebook?  Pride and Prejudice?  Some other movie specifically targeted towards a female audience that most men would take great lengths to avoid being caught dead watching?  I'm just saying.
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
Fewer men would complain about it, sure, but it would still be wrong. And isn't it illegal? They're a company so I would think they wouldn't be allowed to discriminated based on gender like this. But I won't even pretend to be an expert on laws, so that could be wrong.
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
The backlash over the girls only screening is ridiculous.

Last I checked, we live in America. It's a free country. They wanted to promote a "girl's night out." It's a fun idea. Let them do it.

I wouldn't go, since I have zero interest in Wonder Woman, but have I gone to female only events? Sure. Tons of times. Ever hear of Women of Faith?

Or, for the male-centric audience... Promise Keepers? ;)
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
If a group of girls want to have a girls' night out with no boys, they can do that. But a company doing this is discrimination based on gender. Would it be ok if they had a whites only screening of something? A Muslims only screening?Living in a free country doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want.
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
Unless what you are doing is against the law (and this isn't)... actually yes, living in a free country DOES mean you get to do whatever you want.
SJamison More than 1 year ago
Dark tourism has been a thing for centuries.  "See the Forum where Julius Caesar was stabbed!"  It's just easier to buy tickets online now.
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
Why are we so into double standards these days? If there had been a "men only" screening of, say, Transformers....Oh wait. No one would EVER even think to do that! But it's ok to have a women only screening of something? At least it's getting a lot of negative backlash, I think people are finally starting realize how hypocritical all of this is.
Dan Haynes More than 1 year ago
The hateful comments from men regarding this women-only showing of WW illustrate exactly the need for such showings. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a woman. And I think the "women only" screening of Wonder Woman is completely, utterly, ridiculous. And, frankly, demeaning. As if we of the female gender are such fragile little snowflakes that we can't enjoy a movie unless those MEN (said with all the nasty intonation a single word can have) are removed from our presence. What utter nonsense.
It's a movie that happens to star a female lead., so? Who cares?
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
For the record, I am a woman. And this screening was sexist and not needed.
bobed More than 1 year ago
Hollywood political dramas are tanking because they are invariably skewed towards a liberal perspective. Every one of them without fail is preachy, biased and contemptuous of conservatives - aggressively so. Americans are sick of it. The West Wing started it all, but hopefully soon it'll stop and Hollyweird will realize Americans don't want to be peached to by liberals who have made almost the entire landscape of television into their own bully pulpit.
bobed More than 1 year ago
And I have something else to say. All of the shows mentioned here, despite declining viewership, have been inexplicably renewed and enjoy acclaim from fawning critics. Meanwhile, the only conservative show on network TV, Last Man Standing, despite being successful commercially (read: successful with regular Americans), was scoffed at by critics and cancelled for no reason. Yup, Hollyweird is biased to the extreme, and if you deny it, you've got blinders on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I agree with a lot of what you said. When people watch a movie/TV show, they don't want to be preached at on a certain moral, no matter how good it may be (which is why Tomorrowland bombed a couple years ago).

Duck Dynasty also ended this past season, another great TV show for conservatives. :(
Evan Weisensel More than 1 year ago
Fun Fact: A very liberal ABC sitcom, the Real O'Neals, which aired alongside Last Man Standing on Fridays nights was also cancelled for the same reason. ABC wanted to focus Friday nights more on dramas than comedies and thus, the comedies had to go. I highly doubt it was that politically motivated.

Also, you ever think that the reason why there was a discrepancy between critic reviews and average Joe reviews is because that we, as humans, have different tastes and opinions? Food for thought. ;)
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
There's almost always a noticeable difference between critic and audience reviews in any media. Just look at Rotten Tomatoes :P I agree with you though, people seem to be making this more of a political issue than it needs to be. ABC is a company, they'll do whatever they think makes them the most money (doesn't mean they always make smart decisions though).
bobed More than 1 year ago
The Real O'Neals was inexplicably renewed for a second season despite terrible ratings. The ratings were even worse the second season, so miserable (below fractional) that even liberal Hollyweird couldn't justify keeping it around. Last Man Standing, on the other hand, generated lucrative syndication money and was still one of the most successful shows on the chanel despite having MANY more seasons under its belt than TRON. Its cancellation makes no sense from a business perspective and was either political or a huge idiotic blunder on ABC's part. With all due respect there is no universe in which you can say those two shows were cancelled "for the same reason." That's poppycock. Besides being sitcoms they aren't comparable. 
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
How do you find TV show ratings? I tried Googling it and all I got was the G, PG, etc. Movie rating system :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago and are the easiest to navigate that report both total viewer and demo numbers.
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
bobed More than 1 year ago
I know this response is late, but I read tvbythenumbers faithfully. It's a remnant of a time when I was MUCH more interested in TV than I am now, but it's still an interesting read. They report the ratings each day.
Evan Weisensel More than 1 year ago
1. What's TRON got to do with anything? That was a completely different Disney film franchise.

2. Stop referring to Hollywood as "Hollyweird" it makes you look like pretentious in a REEEEE LIBRALS GET OUT sort of way.
Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
I think TRON was being used as an acronym for 'The Real O'neils'. But that threw me off, too, as a premiere fan of the Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner film of the same name. :-)