This year has seen an explosion of content, from Amazon and Netflix’s outpouring of original programming, to cable networks trying everything to hook obsessed fans. Always keeping an eye open for what is happening on the small screen is our very own Amanda Thornton aka Media Manda. She has wrapped up this year’s scripted and unscripted trends.
2017 Unscripted Trends
Reboots for both scripted and unscripted have been a very popular trend this past year. MTV has the most unscripted reboots this year as they continue to transition from scripted to unscripted. MTV reboots include: Fear Factor, TRL, Cribs, My Super Sweet Sixteen, and Floribama Shore (Jersey Shore spin/off). Discovery is rebooting Cash Cab in December and Mythbusters is back with new hosts on the Science Channel.
Reboots for both unscripted and scripted are always going to be a trend because networks can pull in an audience that already exists for each show. Plus, name recognition always helps. Scripted reboots include Dynasty on The CW and Fox’s programming lineup that’s full of reboots such as Lethal Weapon, Love Connection, 24: Legacy, Prison Break, The Exorcist, and The X-Files.
Magazine Partnered Shows
Another trend in the unscripted space is the prevalence of magazine sponsored shows. In these programs, each episode is based around a famous story featured in the magazine where they go more in-depth with interviews with the original reporters and dramatic reenactments. Some examples of these shows include: National Inquirer Investigates (Reelz), People Magazine Investigates (ID), Vanity Fair Confidential (ID) and the limited series TIME: The Kalief Browder Story (Spike).
Shows Based off of Segments on Late Night Television
This past year, segments from late-night television have been moving into their own programming slot with Drop the Mic (TBS), Carpool Karaoke (Apple) and Weekend Update: Summer Edition (NBC) joining the fray after the continued success of Lip Sync Battle on Spike. Besides all being from a late-night segment, these series are all powered by celebrity cameos.
This past year presented a plethora of anniversaries of deaths, crimes, and major events. February was the 5th anniversary of Whitney Houston’s death and the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s was in August. The 25th anniversary of the LA riots was April 29 of this year. National Geographic, History Channel, A&E, Showtime, and Smithsonian Channel all aired documentaries looking back on the riots and race relations surrounding the events.
2017 Scripted Trend
As one article put it, military dramas are this year’s time-travel shows (time travel shows being big in 2016). Four series were presented at Upfronts in May 2017 and of the four, three were picked up for series. These shows are The Brave (NBC), SEAL Team (CBS) and Valor (CW). Behind Enemy Lines (based loosely off of the film) is still in development at Fox. This trend has also carried over into the unscripted space with Warfighters on the History Channel.
2018 Scripted Trend
A trend for 2018 is immigration stories with multiple scripted shows in development. Overall, there are seven scripted series in development centered on stories about immigrants. These series include A Party of Five reboot revolving around a first generation Latino family, ABC’s untitled comedy about a Caucasian family that provides sanctuary to its undocumented nanny and her family, CBS’ Welcome to Maine about a Maine family working alongside a recent immigrant and his daughter, Fox’s In the Country We Love, about a family deported to Colombia; and Undocumented America, a drama still seeking a network. It’s based on a manuscript from journalist and DACA beneficiary Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. Actress, Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin (CW) is developing two series: one about a doctor who immigrates to Miami and has to work as a nurse’s assistant (CBS’ Have Mercy), the other about an all-American teen who discovers he’s not American (The CW’s Illegal).