Is 2015 the year that network television died? Not quite. It still has some kick left over on ABC, where they’re churning out television’s best family sitcoms, in part because they’ve recognized the value of diversity: Fresh Off the Boat (Asian), The Goldbergs (Jewish — when’s the last time you saw a Hanukkah episode?), Black-ish (African American), The Middle (the poors), and even Modern Family (gay and non-traditional families). ABC also has Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter, for the Marvel geeks. Fox has Empire and Brooklyn Nine-nine and one of the more interesting sitcoms on the air in Last Man on Earth, even if it doesn’t always work (also, their animated block continues to perform well). The CW is quickly becoming the most relevant of the networks, with low-rated but much discussed shows like Arrow, The Flash, My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin and The 100. CBS has … well, Big Bang Theory, but that network may have died for most after How I Met Your Mother left the air in 2014 (I still watch The Good Wife, because I can’t stop, and Life in Pieces is delightfully good but tragically unhip).
Take SNL and The Tonight Show out of the equation (and admit you don’t actually watch those on NBC, but occasionally on YouTube the next morning) as well the NFL (which you’d watch on any station that paid for the rights), and what’s the last thing you can remember watching on NBC?
Maybe Hannibal? Six of you may have actually finished the third season. Parks and Recreation, which was burned off in January? Parenthood, maybe, which ended its run earlier this year? Do you watch Heroes: Reborn? (No, of course you don’t). Even The Blacklist has become a Master of None joke about a show old people watch.
Besides The Voice, which is huge in spite of the fact that I don’t know a single person who watches it, how many NBC shows can you name?
I Can Do That?
The Carmichael Show?
Is The Biggest Loser still on?
Don’t they have a Chicago Fire trilogy, with Chicago Med and, like, Chicago Lawyer People?
Guess how many Golden Globe nominations NBC got this year.
O. Zero. Nada. Bupkus. And the one good show that NBC did have, they gave away to Netflix (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
Once the Must See Network, and the home of the most culturally relevant programming on television (Seinfeld, Friends, 30 Rock, The Office, Community, The Cosby Show, E.R.), NBC has become a network with no identity. NBC may still air programming, and it may still attract viewers, but as a brand, NBC is a generic nonentity. It is dead.