Critical Acclaim Vs. Commercial Success

In the realm of television, there seems to be a misconception that shows will be renewed based on their content and level of acclaim. Additionally, when a beloved show ends up getting the ax, some fans complain about how programs of lesser quality keep getting renewed while their superior show had a much shorter lifespan. In reality, quality usually has little to nothing to do with a show's longevity.

Example A: Commercial Success With No Acclaim

The Bachelor is one of the most notable reality shows in recent memory. It is currently in its twenty-second season and has had multiple successful spinoffs. Last season, the series averaged a monstrous 2.35 rating in the 18-49 demographic and was the highest-rated show on the ABC network. The dating program also has a 33% on Metacritic, a 5.3/10 rating on, and a meager 3.1/10 on IMDB based on nearly 5,000 votes. It's safe to say that there's a clear dissociation between the two factors. While critics and audiences alike give it a low grade, people are still tuning in week after week. The Bachelor definitely won't need a 'Save our Show' campaign anytime soon.

Example B: Critical Acclaim With No Success 

In 2015, Fox aired a comedy called The Grinder starring Rob Lowe and Fred Savage. Despite the big names, the ratings for the show were anemic, to put it lightly. In all, The Grinder averaged an abysmal 0.75 rating in the 18-49 demographic and went as low as a 0.5. Just like the previous example, it only specialized in one category. The comedy was critically acclaimed and received a 71 on Metacritic and a whopping  93% on Rotten Tomatoes. But, that acclaim did not help its success. The series was canceled in May 2016 and simultaneously forgotten about by the masses. 


In the end, there are many Bachelors and even more Grinders out there. Many shows thrive without praise from audiences while others can't build an audience despite the praise. With that said, this does not mean that acclaim and success have zero correlation. Shows like Seinfeld and Friends were wildly successful and also had the critics' approval to back it up. On the contrary, there are boatloads of deceased comedies, dramas, and reality shows that received no love from reviewers and lasted no more than a handful of episodes due to commercial failure. Fox's short-lived sitcom Mulaney comes to mind alongside the even shorter-lived Work ItThe latter aired a mere two episodes before it was pulled because the comedy was a critical and commercial nightmare. In the end, money is the deciding factor that determines if a series will see the light of another day. Even streaming services like Netflix have started canceling shows because they simply aren't getting the clicks necessary to survive. Every network wants an award-winning masterpiece, but they'd definitely prefer a successful show that audiences despise over a low-rated critical darling.

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