Having turned to the Internet as an alternative distribution venue, Zwick and Herskovitz did finally return to the regular TV fold. Quarterlife was picked up for broadcast during the writers' strike, and the episode fragments were cobbled together and censored slightly for broadcast by NBC in February. Despite a putatively strong lead-in, The Biggest Loser, quarterlife earned the lowest 10 pm Tuesday rating recorded by NBC in seventeen years. Why any programmer would imagine a gimmicky reality show about dieting fat people to be a terrific lead-in for a talky drama featuring mostly anorexic girls is a mystery. In any case, quarterlife quickly migrated to the cablecaster Bravo, where it ran just once as a marathon. Zwick and Herskovitz have made niche programming all along, never ratings grabbers for a mass audience, so a small cable channel may well have been the best place for them. But Bravo's bread and butter is reality shows, and it's likely that viewers preferred the bona fide, talented young artists of Project Runway to quarterlife's supposedly artistic kids endlessly circling their problems. Could this be Auf Wiedersehen to the last of the independents?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
A piece worth reading: why independent TV producers are disappearing and how quarterlife might be the last gasp. (The Nation)