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Audience Alienating Premise / Live-Action TV

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Audience Alienating Premises in live-action TV.

  • As a general rule, network audiences tend to hate shows with morally-gray protagonists. Heist-themed shows like Thieves and Smith totally bombed, and Hannibal has poor viewership largely because the Misaimed Marketing makes it look like it has a serial killer Villain Protagonist (when in reality, Hannibal is the antagonist of the series).

  • While Animal Planet Heroes has won several awards throughout its multiple incarnations, good luck trying to ask non-fans to give it a watch. Pet and animal lovers that Animal Planet caters to would have to watch innocent pets with third-degree cases of Body Horror, along with potentially dying, courtesy from the moral bottom of mankind, with a fair chance that said animal abuser will get off scot-free, leaving that demographic emotionally-burning out quicker than a pre-Edison light bulb. Meanwhile, True Crime fans can get bored of watching what could be considered to be the same cases over and over again, just moved to a new city and with different animals.
  • This was likely a major reason for Arrested Development becoming an Acclaimed Flop during its original run (though it was Vindicated by History, and eventually Un-Canceled by Netflix). It's a show about a dysfunctional family of egotistical, back-stabbing out-of-touch yuppies, where the only character who’s anywhere near being upright is the Butt-Monkey Only Sane Man protagonist, with the rest of the main cast consisting of otherwise ordinary people who are driven mad by the family’s chaos (his wimpy, incestuous son and rebellious teenage niece), highly eccentric and socially awkward weirdos (his Manchild younger brother and homoerotic thespian-wannabe brother-in-law), self-centered and lazy jerks (his Small Name, Big Ego older brother and Spoiled Brat liberal twin sister), or cold-hearted and corrupt misers (his abusive parents, one of whom is a wanted criminal), and roughly a quarter of the jokes involve Incest Subtext. Its rather dense plot — far more complicated than one would naturally expect of a sitcom — likely didn't help. The stock market, finances, and other similar topics also play a large role in the series, things which not a whole lot of people are familiar with. This was lampshaded by Michael Bluth in Season 3: "Maybe we aren't as likable as we think we are."
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  • The TV series based on Birds of Prey tried to appeal to both comic book fans and the Dawson's Creek crowd. This failed because the comic geeks were turned off by the unnecessary drama and pointless changes, and the teenyboppers were confused by obscure comic book references they didn't understand. Funnily enough, though, Arrow is a massive hit, and uses essentially the same premise (CW drama mixed with DC Comics), just 10 years later. That Arrow had the fortune of launching in the wake of the massive success of The Dark Knight Saga probably helped. The relatively unknown character having been introduced to viewers through Smallville didn't hurt either.
  • Blood Ties, the TV adaptation of Tanya Huff's Blood Books, had all the pieces there: a good premise, a convincing love triangle, and good actors (Tanya Huff apparently saw the lead actress on a different series years earlier saying she'd make a perfect Vicki) with good chemistry. There was one big problem, though: the Canadian series got picked up in the US by Lifetime. The dark, supernatural premise alienated fans of Lifetime's normal dramatic romance fare, and Girl-Show Ghetto kept male fans of sci-fi and fantasy from giving the show a fair shake (believing it was typical Lifetime dreck.) It's telling that Lost Girl, another Canadian series with an ass-kicking female lead with a Perky Goth sidekick and a supernatural being as a potential love interest premiered on Syfy and fared infinitely better.
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  • Cao Cao 2013 is a Chinese produced drama about the warlord Cao Cao, specifically tailored to show a human Cao Cao rather than the always in control warlord he is normally depicted as. However, Cao Cao is the main villain of the epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the vast majority of its adaptations (spanning almost 2000 years), and the idea that you could make a drama showing him as being human was so alien to Chinese audiences that the series was actually released in Japan and South Korea first (as they were more accepting of the idea of a heroic Cao Cao). The fact that the traditional hero of the Romance, Liu Bei, is depicted as an opportunist (at best) also doesn't help.
  • Carnivàle qualifies: despite having a highly original and engaging plot, the premise of "supernatural battle set in the Depression-era dustbowl", and the thick layer of religious and mystical symbolism all over the show, made it hard for a lot of people to get interested in. It didn't help that the series mythological background (based on both real-world myths as well as components created for the show) wasn't laid out well and the hints were obscure leaving viewers who didn't have an encyclopedia on hand clueless to many aspects. It's been described as a less accessible Twin Peaks for a reason.
  • Cavemen: A show inspired by an aging ad campaign that used actual cavemen as the basis for commentary on social and race issues naturally made it a laughingstock the moment it was announced.
  • Community had an Audience Alienating Execution, as their ratings got steadily worse (with the biggest drop off occurring after the Pilot); it's probably because that the premise (Fraudulent Jerkass Lawyer has to go back to school, meets wacky misfits and learns the value of friendship) is prime Sitcom material, but the actual implementation of that premise (extensive esoteric shout outs, Continuity Lock-Out to the extreme, weird one-shot genre parody episodes such as  and a perverse interest in insulting NBC) killed its chances at being a major hit instead of a Cult Classic.
  • This was why the show Cop Rock failed. It's a crime drama... and a musical! Though with the later success of shows like Glee, one wonders if it was just a bit ahead of its time.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a musical deconstruction of romcom clichés, in which the protagonist suffers from serious emotional issues and constant self-sabotage, and every move toward a happy ending is derailed by running headlong into reality. The intersection between people who like comic musicals and those who like dark humor and cynical character studies is probably pretty small. Nonetheless, the combination of consistently glowing reviews, multiple awards, and strong network support has kept it on the air, despite generally dismal ratings.
  • The Defenders (2017) is liked for the whole basic premise of teaming up Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand to fight an enemy. However, the execution of the villains, the mystical organization known as the Hand, was not as well received, with many reviewers believing that the mystical nature of the Hand doesn't work well with Netflix Marvel heroes whose standalone shows have primarily consisted of fighting grounded and street-level criminals. Perhaps notably, The Punisher (2017), which followed The Defenders, was much more acclaimed for using a very grounded-in-reality plot with no overt superpowers, while the second season of Luke Cage and third season of Daredevil returned to using the well-received main antagonists from their first seasons (Mariah Dillard and Shades for Luke Cage, and Wilson Fisk for Daredevil).
  • A few of the more unpopular Doctor Who stories/eras have this as their main flaw:
    • One of the things fans tend to appreciate about the show is that it's much darker and more cerebral than most children's shows, but at the end of the day it should still be child-friendly. Usually, the show negotiates this by using the Doctor as a funny Ideal Hero Escapist Character that the children can feel safe alongside no matter what, so any regime trying to reinvent them as a morally-deficient figure tends to get a lot of pushback for making the show too grim and unlike Doctor Who.
      • The Sixth Doctor era gets a lot of flak because of this — children don't want to watch a Doctor who runs around abusing his companion, and grownups have other places to explore that sort of thing, where the dark subtext can be properly explored. Six was supposed to become more likable and heroic with time, but his Character Development, combined with the unusually grim nature of his storylines, didn't happen fast enough to avoid turning off much of the show's audience — and dooming the series' original run.
      • The Twelfth Doctor era is a double subversion, helped by the fact that the revival had a better sense of how to explore darker content. In his first season, Twelve's pragmatism and lack of social skills are often called out by others, especially his companion Clara, and even by himself as he questions his capacity for goodness. He is self-aware, learns from his mistakes, and comes to a positive understanding of himself in his first Story Arc — and gets lots of eccentrically funny moments from the start. Unfortunately, Peter Capaldi was a much older actor than Matt Smith and looked it, so a substantial chunk of the fandom gave up on the show after he was announced as Smith's successor solely on that basis (any effect on the ratings appears to have been virtually indistinguishable from the standard variance between series). A good chunk of the viewing audience, meanwhile, wasn't ready for a Doctor whose arc revolved around Defrosting Ice King Character Development alongside a companion who evolved into less of a Morality Chain due to having/developing similar personality traits, and ratings dropped after his first series. Even though he became Lighter and Softer in his two subsequent series (especially his last which brought in sunnier companions), a change usually pegged to the reception to Series 8 although it was also a logical progression for him, the audience didn't returnnote . But Capaldi ended his run as one of the most highly-regarded Doctors by critics and he has a loyal, cult fanbase — thus, the double subversion.
      • This is a major issue with the Expanded Universe novels of The '90s, which turned the more-manipulative Seventh Doctor into a Knight Templar and had much more adult content in general, which filtered into the later Eighth Doctor novels. It was created by and for the adult fanbase and was successful at the time, but because it left kids (and adults who didn't want Darker and Edgier) out in the cold, it is rarely revisited/republished now in part because it just doesn't feel like old or new Doctor Who.
    • Aversion: Much internal pushback about the Pertwee-era no-time travel Retool was based around fears it would be this — after all, who'd want a new setting where you can't travel in space and time in a space-time travel show? While the arc/era is still considered divisive and much of the production team resented it, it ended up being a hugely successful era that saw very good ratings.
    • Season 15, which is usually thought of as Tom Baker's weakest season, struggles with this somewhat. Executive Meddling had ordered the new producer to take out all the horror elements, so they were stuck making Doctor Who without Nightmare Fuel. The writers agreed Doctor Who can also be funny, and reworked the material to focus more on comedy... and then the executives told them to cut down on the comedy, too. This might have been okay had they been able to come up with some Visual Effects of Awesome, but at that time the huge "stagflation" recession of the 1970s hit and the BBC slashed their budget, leading to them running out of money midseason and resorting to production values that would have been laughable ten years ago. So the show couldn't scare you, make you laugh, or look interesting — all that was really left was the unusually good main team of the Doctor, Leela, and K-9, who are almost enough to save it.
    • "Love & Monsters" is a decent story and a very personal one, and critics loved it. But most Doctor Who fans loathe it because it's an Out-of-Genre Experience to what Who has ever done before or since — a Lower-Deck Episode episode barely featuring the Doctor or the companion, and an allegory about obnoxious fans who don't know how to have a good time watching a show with their friends, with some really Campy Black Comedy, a controversial comedian in a fat suit, a love story between two peculiar-looking nerds and a quirky directorial style influenced by vlogging. The more cerebral sphere of fandom loves it, but the people who were just there for the Doctor having adventures got neither of those things.
    • "Let's Kill Hitler" was described by its own writer as being "the regeneration rom-com guest starring Hitler that no-one asked for". People who wanted Nazis got them used as jokey, borderline offensive window dressing, with Hitler literally shoved into a cupboard and forgotten about. People who didn't want Nazis and just cared about the characters had to contend with a plot that ignored all of the traumatic events that had happened to these characters in the last story. Old-school fans who just want space monsters got a romcom about the Doctor and his future wife, a concept which itself is alienating to that group, while non-fan casual viewers immediately had to contend with the convoluted plotting and Continuity Lock-Out, and the fans invested in the romance were turned off by the constant sexist Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast jokes and the fact that the story is mostly about one of the characters being insane and trying to murder the other — Played for Laughs! But viewed as a kind of Trolling Creator primal scream, it's pretty entertaining.
  • Possibly one of the reasons that Dollhouse didn't do particularly well (or gain quite the cult following of other Whedon shows). The concept of people repeatedly having their mind wiped and personalities implanted to act as prostitutes, assassins (and more) isn't exactly a comfortable idea, even if the show criticizes it, not to mention how hard it is to get attached to characters who literally have a completely different personality from week to week. More to the point, the show is uneven in its criticism. For the first season, the Dollhouse seems to function just fine, except for one evil escapee and a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist who only makes progress when he gets help from the Dollhouse itself. Then there are episodes where the ongoing plot is absent, or nearly absent, which could imply that some of the Dollhouses' work is just fine.
  • Feed The Beast was created by AMC as a "quirky crime drama" in the vein of their previous work Breaking Bad (adapted from a Swedish drama called Bankenrot ("Broke") ), this time focusing on the increasingly-digging-themselves-deeper-in-crime misadventures of a duo consisting of a cook who had just got out of prison (and was an obvious pastiche of "rock star" cooks like Anthony Bourdain), his best friend (a widowed, alcoholic, single-parent wine connoisseur with a son that was still struck silent from seeing his mom get hit by a car in front of him) as they tried to create the Bronx high-class restaurant dreamed by their deceased friend and wife (although in reality more of a swindle to buy time and obtain money by the cook to pay the mob boss that he used to work for, the mob boss accepting this because he's obsessed with cooking), and the cast of people surrounding them (an obsessive cop that wants to take down the mob boss, the aforementioned mob boos and kid, the wine connoisseur's Racist Grandpa of a father that wishes to get closer to the family, the somewhat-less-but-almost-there Amoral Attorney that got the cook out of prison (and he knocked up))... if you made it through that list, you can guess why the critics completely demolished the show (although they praised the acting of the entire cast, especially David Schwimmer's leading role): the "cooking drama" part of the show was unfulfilling (quoting shows like the failed adaptation of Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" as an example of why such things don't work), the constant attempts at Food Porn were deemed laughable, the "crime drama" part of the show clashed with the kitchen drama part to the point that it felt like two entirely different shows, the location didn't work for them, and to make things worse the characters were such a collection of miserable people facing constant setbacks that it was a slog to watch. The show burned its single season (ending on a Cliffhanger) and then was removed.
  • Freaks and Geeks was never going to last in network television. The period setting, mixed with the hour-long length (most American sitcoms clock in at under 30 minutes) and subdued, quirky humor, completely turned off most viewers. It didn't help that the show had the bad timing to air before '80s nostalgia really got into gear later in The Oughts. Plus, beginning the series at the very start of the '80s meant that the setting was culturally still very much The '70s, which might have also been confusing to viewers.
  • Not nearly as severe as other examples, but some viewers find themselves put off by the fact that Friday Night Lights is "about football". It kind of is, but interest in football isn't necessarily a requirement to enjoy the show at all, any more than an interest in ghosts is required to enjoy Ghostbusters. It's just a good and interesting small-town/family drama.
    • And the flipside was that NBC also targeted football fans, promoting it heavily during Sunday Night Football telecasts, only that those fans found too little football and passed, and everyone else who passed on it thought "too much football."
    • That the football in question is the American variety didn't help it overseas; in Britain, ITV4 only aired the first season (although Sky Atlantic did eventually... well... pick up the ball).
    • There's a sizable number of football fans who'd rather not see the game deconstructed or radically criticized. There's a sizable number of football detractors who resent the central role it plays in many American communities and finds the mere depiction of this role a fundamentally irritating reminder. That eliminates an awfully large chunk of the potential audience.
  • Girlboss was a Netflix series about a snarky young hipster who starts her own company after being fired from her job. The problem is, one of the main plot points was that the protagonist was extremely smug, rude and generally unlikable, which made it very hard to root for her. And if that wasn't enough, the real person the show was based on got herself mired in serious legal trouble over her mistreatment of her employees shortly before it was released. The series also tried to appeal to the feminist public by selling its protagonist as an example of "Girl Power", but the unpleasantness of its main character and the fact that in real life Sophia Amoruso fired workers for getting pregnant made that effort look like hypocrisy. It ended up being cancelled after just one season, an extreme rarity on Netflix which is famous for their lenient standards on renewal.
  • Heathers had a core of an interesting idea in exploring how teen dynamics have changed in the 30 years since the film, and how a similar story might look in the new setting. Unfortunately, the trailer was a massive turnoff as it gave the impression the crew went so far with this idea that they turned the show into a neo-conservative fantasy about a beleaguered attractive, straight white girl who wreaks righteous fatal justice on her overweight, non-white, and LGBT oppressors, without a shred of irony to be seen. When multiple school shootings in 2018 made it seem even more out of touch, Paramount Network initially pulled the show altogether. It finally aired in October 2018 over the course of a week and re-edited its final two episodes into one by way of dropping some of the more upsetting content, and its advertising decided to run with No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, but it didn't work and it received lousy ratings at the end.
  • Heil Honey I'm Home!: A 1990 British sitcom starring caricatures of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who live in matrimonial bliss until they become neighbors to a Jewish couple. It was probably supposed to be a Deconstructive Parody of 1950s Sitcom tropes, but if so it ended up being a Stealth Parody as well. The fact that you could have replaced Adolf with a generic "bumbling Nazi" caricature as the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist and the show still wouldn't have been all that funny didn't help.
  • The similarly-titled Hi Honey, I'm Home! was a forgotten '90s sitcom that was a Deconstructive Parody of 1950s sitcom tropes, set in a universe where sitcom characters are real and the main character, Mike, lives next door to his favorite (fictional) '50s sitcom family. All is well and good... except this was a Nickelodeon production (even though the first season aired on ABC, on the TGIF block) and was instead for kids. The problem is a lot of the jokes rely on the viewer's knowledge of classic television and its tropes. The show even had a cameo from a classic sitcom character every episode, which is great if you're a television nerd, but for a kid in the '90s, you didn’t get it. The show was very inconsistent with its theme as well. In one episode the mother, Honey, learns about sex, and another episode deals with sexism, while at the same time there's an episode about Mike trying to get a girl to a dance. This makes the show very confusing on who they want this to appeal to. Plus it can be argued that the main character of the show is Honey, when being a Kid Com, Mike should have been the true lead. All in all the show was a major flop, limping around for two seasons, which is a shame because its concept was very interesting.
  • House of Cards (US) was already teetering on the edge with its asking the audience to stay invested in an especially vile Villain Protagonist who remains a near-total Karma Houdini for years, but it slipped into this completely with the revelation that lead star Kevin Spacey was an especially prolific sexual predator, with some of the character's crimes even bearing an unsettling resemblance to his real ones. The show received one more season with Spacey written out, but it's pretty much understood by everyone that the only people who will ever watch said final season are the ones who'd already seen the rest of the show by the time the news broke, as asking anyone to now sit through five seasons of this guy doing evil acts, getting away with it, and even gloating directly to the audience all the while, just to get to a single season without him, is one of the most impossible sells ever.
  • Even the most pro-capitalist viewers have reported difficulties with the show Hou$e of Lie$. It's about taking money from rich business owners... and giving it to rich management consultants instead. This wouldn't be so bad if the consultants in question didn't Kick the Dog every episode, or act in some hypocritical fashion that makes it difficult to take the characters seriously.
  • I Hate My Teenage Daughter: It didn't have the cynical and crude humor of shows like Married... with Children or Two and a Half Men as the title may suggest, making it unattractive for those audiences, and at the same time the premise behind it wasn't attractive for audiences preferring the family-friendly humor of shows like Full House or The Middle. Moral Guardians hated it because they saw it as contrary to traditional family values and the more edgy viewers didn't care for the normally Anvilicious Aesops that the show drops in every single episode. The show suffered from extremely low ratings and was canceled after one season.
  • The Netflix series Insatiable is a Heathers-esque Black Comedy about an overweight girl who gets thin after having her jaw wired shut and takes revenge on all the people who bullied her over her weight. The release of the trailer resulted in a petition to stop the show's release for apparently just being a non-stop barrage of fat-shaming jokes. The company defended it by saying those jokes weren't meant to be agreed with as the villains were making them and we're meant to sympathize with their target, but the protestors responded that there's still an uncomfortable message in how she's only able to be happy after being forced to lose weight. While the reviews for the show upon its release were highly negative, it ended up renewed for a second season, though how well that does will determine whether this is a subversion of the trope or not.
  • A good example is The John Larroquette Show, in which Larroquette played John Hemingway, an acerbic recovering alcoholic. The first season was insightful, provoking, filled with race baiting humor, and a bartender was implied to be Satan. Thanks to Executive Meddling, the show was made Lighter and Softer, alienating those faithful viewers who did watch the show.note 
  • Each week in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, John Oliver discusses in depth some underexamined issue facing American society, and while they're occasionally very interesting on the face of it (for example, the piece deconstructing the claims people make in praise of Donald Trump; a review of season 2 says Last Week Tonight is "Probably the only show that can explore 'tax-exempt municipal bonds' and rack up 5 million YouTube views."), just as often the issue is... not exactly exciting. He's lampshaded this effect multiple times - for example, in the second episode when he realises they're about to do a piece on something as depressing as the death penalty, he promises the audience will get to see some really cute animals at the end if they stick around, and then there's this quote made as he announced the subject for the show the week after the very popular Donald Trump piece:
    That's right, we are talking tonight about special taxation districts. So, hello, people watching for the first time because of the Trump piece. And also, I presume: "Goodbye, goodbye!"
  • Lone Star was supposed to be the big headlining show of the 2010-11 season for the Fox network, but the premise turned off audiences so badly it was canceled after only two episodes were aired. Unlike shows like Leverage or Hustle, the conman protagonist was not stealing just from Jerkasses but was also cheating nice, hard-working people. The Heel–Face Turn that was supposed to set him up on the road to redemption (and audience sympathy) turned out to be just a way for him to marry two different women and maintain a double life. When the audience finds no redeeming qualities in the main character and wants him thrown in jail as soon as possible, the premise just doesn't work.
  • ABC's Lucky 7, a drama (that was advertised as being mostly) about the downsides of winning the lottery, was cancelled after only two episodes in 2013. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea to air a show about how suddenly coming into a lot of money is a bad thing during an economic downturn.
  • The 1983 British music program Minipops was built on a simple premise: People like kids, and people like pop music, therefore people will like kids dressing up as pop stars and singing their songs. The trouble was that pop music is often a sexually suggestive medium. As it turned out, an adult wearing high heels, makeup, and a revealing outfit to sing about making love was one thing, but a preteen doing the same thing garnered a different reaction. The later, similar Kidz Bop in comparison tries hard to avoid this reaction by cleaning up a lot of their songs, and still attracts a lot of criticism. Minipops did it straight, and only lasted a single series. Some more successful takes on the Minipops formula lie in Kids Incorporated and Kidsongs, which, like Kidz Bop, also Bowdlerised their covered songs when they needed to, and those series had a proven longevity — Kids Inc. lasted a whopping eight seasons and five seasons for the Kidsongs TV show.
  • "Mitten im 8en" was a Daily Soap launched on Austrian TV as part of a massive retooling of the public broadcaster, was heavily advertised and was hailed as a Smash Hit before the pilot even aired. It had Loads and Loads of Characters, few of which were sympathetic and each one of which was supposed to feature in a significant capacity in each of the 23-minute-episodes, and featured primarily unfunny comedy and uninteresting plots. It bombed heavily, both with critics and with audiences, and lost viewers at a quick rate. It was cancelled after 56 (of 118 produced) episodes had aired.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In hindsight, it's almost a miracle that this show ever got made and managed to find an audience. Why would anyone want to watch a comedy show where half of the time the sketches go nowhere and punch lines are almost non-existent? In every episode, confusing things happen at random and without any sense of context or continuity. Sometimes the show appears to end but still goes on for several minutes. Other times it seems as if another show is playing. There's a lot of male crossdressing and homosexual innuendo (back in the 1960s and 1970s far more audience alienating than nowadays). Many intellectual references are made, often to very obscure stuff that would make an encyclopaedia come in handy. And several scenes are intercut with amateuristic cut-and-paste cartoons that border between the macabre and the grotesque. Indeed, the general public didn't know what to think of it. Most of the time the studio audience hardly snickers. Even the BBC tried to axe and boycott the show several times, even going so far to think of erasing all seasons in 1975. And how do you export this bizarre series to foreign countries? Apart from the sheer bizarreness mentioned earlier, a lot of jokes refer to things only British people would get (and only those who remember the late '60s and early '70s at that). But, despite all odds, a cult following came about and the show caught on outside the UK as well. Still, for many years they polarized a majority of the audience and the Pythons were amazed that several decades later public opinion has changed so drastically that suddenly they have become the darling boys of comedy. Though, arguably, most of their fanbase is composed of people only familiar with their more accessible films, especially Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The cast was fully aware of this, as well. In an interview, John Cleese said he was in makeup with Michael Palin and said: "Do you realize this could be the first comedy in the history of British television where no one laughs?" Palin reportedly responded, "I was just thinking the same thing."
  • Musikantenstadl was a long-running German show presenting volkstuemliche Musik, "folksy music" (often falsely called "Volksmusik", i.e. "folk music"). It was quite popular with older audiences; eventually, however, executives decided to aim for a younger audience (never mind that the producers were public broadcasters and therefore supposed or at least expected to take niches into account as well), and Musikantenstadl was Retooled into the Younger and Hipper Stadlshow. It was a spectacular flop; after all, young people are generally not interested in folksy music, to begin with, so virtually all the retool accomplished was alienating the existing viewership. Nevertheless, it was decided to keep the Stadlshow concept, except that the program is now limited to new year specials, with only a single regular episode having been produced.
  • The short-lived series The Nine. It was advertised and marketed as a crime thriller but was actually more of an emotional drama. Thus people that wanted a crime thriller were turned off by the melodrama and viewers that would have liked the melodrama were alienated by the crime-focused advertising.
  • Of Kings and Prophets is a retelling of the Books of Samuel by way of Game of Thrones; before it aired, its creators bragged about it being Hotter and Sexier and Bloodier and Gorier. The thing is, people interested in a religious show generally don't like that, and secular viewers probably weren't interested in a Biblical adaptation, despite promises of political drama. Add enough Values Dissonance and Grey and Gray Morality to make God and His followers seem like Villain Protagonists and it's no wonder this show got canceled two episodes in.
  • Profit featured a Villain Protagonist before other shows dabbled with the concept. It didn't last a single season.
  • RoboCop: The Series, much like RoboCop 3, was part of an attempt to turn the up-until-3 very hard "R"-rated franchise into a franchise for children. Naturally, fans didn't take well to it and it only lasted one season.
  • This is the reason Roundhouse isn't as popular as other 90's Nickelodeon shows. It's one part teen sitcom and one part Sketch Comedy, on a mainly barebones set with an ensemble cast of 12-15 actors telling a story using cardboard props (ironically, it was the most expensive of Nick's shows at the time as a lot of said cardboard props were mostly for one scene/joke). Add to that all the radar-dodging, parental bonuses and surprisingly awesome music, and few people knew what to make of it. It somehow managed to last four seasons. While many other Nickelodeon shows from the 1990s (including fellow SNICK stablemates Clarissa Explains It All, The Ren & Stimpy Show and Are You Afraid of the Dark?) remain hugely popular in The New '10s, Roundhouse has to settle for Cult Classic status.
  • Santa Clarita Diet: This is a sitcom about a family where the mother becomes a zombie and starts to eat people. The show has been praised for being hilarious even at its darkest moments, but it has more gore than your average horror movie, with very graphic deaths, Bloody Horror and Body Horror both being Played for Laughs, which turned off several viewers who couldn't handle the very dark comedy of the show.
  • The racially-mixed cast on Star Trek: The Original Series was one in the South. Some TV stations in the region refused to carry it outright.
  • Star Trek: Discovery is a Cosmetically Advanced Prequel starring Spock's never-before-mentioned foster sister who, in her introductory episode, betrays her captain and nearly starts a shooting war with the Klingons. Even for many die-hard Trek fans, that was a hard sell. The show has, however, been very successful in spite of this, having completed two seasons and been renewed for a third.
  • Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills was a show that focused heavily on harshly criticizing the Tokusatsu genre and showing how the creators thought one of those shows should be done. Fans of the genre were turned off by its vindictiveness, and people who didn't like it didn't even bother to watch it.
  • BBC's soap opera Triangle: a ferry operating in the gloom of the North Sea was hardly the most glamorous of locations. Famously, the first episode featured Kate O'Mara sunbathing topless on an obviously freezing deck. Clichéd relationships, stilted dialogue and production problems related to being on a real-life ferry cemented the show's mockable reputation.
  • Ultraman Leo was a Deconstruction of tokusatsu before audiences were used to such storiesnote . The premise practically tears apart the Invincible Hero trope, and the MAC members seem to interact and react with the world around them far more realistically than other Science Patrols. As well as all that, Leo himself relied much more on fists and kicks, which was jarring in a franchise far more used to heroes who used flashy, dazzling energy rays. All this led to the show falling into the single-digits, the worst rating in the franchise history.
  • The drama/musical Viva Laughlin (the U.S. adaptation of The BBC series Viva Blackpool) got horrid reviews and was canned after only two episodes, even with a singing, dancing Hugh Jackman. After the crashing and burning of Smash, it would seem that musical TV series simply don't work; TV movie musicals like High School Musical seem to fare better.
    • Musicals, in general, are a bit of a hard sell (High School Musical being an outlier). Glee survived through a number of factors: 1) it plays into the camp appeal, 2) sales of the music make up for its underperforming ratings, 3) all the songs are "real songs" (i.e. covers of classic or contemporary hits the audience already knows and loves), and 4) like its suspiciously similar predecessor, Fame, the context of the series allowed for its characters to break into song and dance because, duh, the characters were singers and dancers and most musical numbers were thus presented in the context of putting on a show. This is not the same as a bunch of cops suddenly deciding to sing for no reason.
  • Wicked City tried to ride the Breaking Bad train by focusing on a Villain Protagonist and the woman he slowly drags into joining him. Unfortunately, what it missed is anything to make its main character Kent at all engaging or sympathetic so that people would be willing to follow his story in spite of his evil actions. It was pulled after three episodes, with the creators putting up a further five that hastily wrapped up the story (sort of, as Kent ends up a Karma Houdini so it feels like there was even less point to watching the thing) online. Then it lost any possibility of becoming a Cult Classic when Kent's actor Ed Westwick was accused of rape by several women in the early days of the Me Too movement, making his character's actions hit way too close to home for anyone to be comfortable watching it.
  • Work It was a cross-dressing comedy about two St. Louis guys forced to dress as women in order to get jobs as pharmaceutical sales representatives, as said company only hires women. While that concept might have worked in The '70s, it had no chance in 2012, and was quickly cancelled after two episodes.


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