By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 16, 2013 at 7:50PM
Alright Scandalistas, I know just how rabid you all can be (we've felt your wrath a few times on this blog), but, come on now - even you guys aren't going to give this petition a thumbs up are you?
The story, in short, goes... a fan of the series has created a petition at Change.org (they just let anyone create petitions about anything, huh? The democratic process at work I suppose) - a petition that she states is to let ABC programming execs know that you're not cool with all the recent breaks between shows; for example, currently, the show is on a 3-week hiatus, meaning reruns will be shown during its time-slot, until it returns to new episodes on April 25.
Apparently that's just too long for some of you - at least for T.R. Mason (who created the petition) and the 286 people (and growing) who have signed it thus far.
But really, is it THAT serious?
Here are Mason's words:
There are very few TV shows on prime time television written by, much less starring people of color. The broadcast networks have made great strides in recent years by diversifying the faces we see on prime time TV however there is more that can be done. Putting a show like Scandal on repeated hiatus is a surefire way to lose fans and viewers. Gladiators/Scandalistas/Scandalists everywhere have not gotten over our initial shock that there will be no Scandal AGAIN for 3 more weeks. Instead of whining and complaining, we are doing something about it! Shonda Rhimes is NOT the reason there's another hiatus. It's the TV execs at Disney/ABC Television Group. Let your voices and displeasure be heard by contacting Anne Sweeney, the President of ABC Entertainment [...] Or send her a nice little profanity free email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let her know how unhappy we all are and maybe, just maybe they'll pick up enough episodes that we Gladiators won't have to be on hiatus AGAIN against our will. So bombard ABC with your unhappiness by emailing, calling, faxing etc. Mount up Gladiators! Mount up!
No word on how many emails, phone calls and faxes Anne Sweeney and ABC have received thus far, or whether they're having the desired effect.
As for Shondra Rhimes, she's already addressed the hiatus issue stating, on Twitter:
I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHEN SHOWS AIR. I do not have anything to do with the fact that we are not on for 3 weeks. #donottweetmeyourcrazy
What some may not realize is that, during any TV season, breaks between episodes of shows are common. This isn't something that's specific to Scandal. I also doubt that it has anything to do with the color of the skin of the creator of the show, or its star.
It all comes down to math and money.
TV industry news & views writer Carina MacKenzie breaks it down - first on the math part:
There are about 22 episodes in a typical primetime season on the five major networks. There are 52 weeks in a year. Additionally, it takes more than one week to shoot an episode -- your average episode of, say, "The Vampire Diaries" or "Revenge" takes 8 days to shoot, and that's not counting writing, prep, and post-production. If there were no hiatuses, your season would begin in late September and end at the end of January, and then you'd have to wait 8 months to discover how that cliffhanger turns out.
And on the money part, Carina adds:
As with most things in the television industry, what it really comes down to is money. With the exception of premium cable networks, most networks make money off of their television shows by selling advertising. The advertising companies use ratings to decide how much a 30-second commercial is worth during a certain show, based on how many eyes will actually see that commercial. Though ratings information is collected every week, Nielsen is more thorough in their ratings investigation during "sweeps" periods, which fall roughly in November, February, May, and July. During these four-week periods, Nielsen asks several panels of homes to keep a detailed paper diary of the television they watch, live and via DVR. They analyze what certain demographics are tuned into. Generally, it's in the networks' best interests to make sure their best, most attention-grabbing episodes air during sweeps, because then more Nielsen families will watch, then the networks can sell commercials for more money. That's why you'll most often see big-name guest stars or shocking twists during these periods. Shows often go on hiatus right before these breaks so that the networks can save their best episodes for sweeps weeks. Shows return from hiatus with a big promotional push and lots of press right as the advertising companies start paying attention.
When all else fails, look to the desire for profit.
But maybe Ms Mason has a point about the show losing some of its audience during these extended breaks. Although I doubt it. As I started this post saying, Scandal fans absolutely LOVE the show, and it'll take more than a 3-week hiatus to turn them away and watch something else during that 10pm hour, every Thursday. I'm certain that some are even tuning in to watch the reruns, and are content with doing that, anxiously awaiting a return to new episodes.
After all, we're not talking about a 3 month-long hiatus.
What do you say? Are you in the camp who'll be firing off emails to ABC after reading this, with your complaints, or do you think this peition is entirely unnecessary?
Math and money - remember that.