Frank’s Pop Culture Watch: A Performance Update on TV Teen Shows

It is often hard for new shows to gain traction and build audiences; the effort proves fruitful for some and grim for others. Nothing showcases this hard fact of show business better than this fall’s teen TV shows. Two of the biggest networks for teens are the CW and ABC Family, so I will examine their program offerings.Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 5.55.57 PM

The CW debuted three dramas this season: The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals, the action series The Tomorrow People, and the Mary, Queen of Scots-centered Reign. Beauty and the Beast and The Carrie Diaries were also in new timeslots for their sophomore years. Some of these shows swam, but some undoubtedly sunk.

The brightest star in the CW’s sky has proven to be The Originals. Though I am biased by my love for the series, one cannot deny that its numbers are better than those of other shows. The Originals consistently draws over two million viewers. This week, the show had a better rating than its predecessor. If any of these shows can hope for a renewal, it’s The Originals.

The Tomorrow People is a decent performer, retaining much of the audience from its lead-in, Arrow. Nevertheless, the show’s numbers are not impressive enough to demand its renewal. We’ll have to wait and see how People continues to perform. Numbers have been slowly dwindling, but maybe the show can rebound.

Reign was dead on arrival. The show posted the worst audience figures out of all the freshman series, yet it follows the network’s highest rated program, The Vampire Diaries. Unless the moon shakes, the Earth quakes, and the seas part, this show has no shot.

Let’s move on to year two shows with new times. Beauty and the Beast and The Carrie Diaries can be lumped together because they will share the same fate. Both brought in mediocre numbers throughout their entire first seasons, but were thrown bones by the network for some reason or another. This season, both shows have seen their numbers slip to series lows. It is highly unlikely that either of these shows will see a season three. If one of them does, it will be Beauty and the Beast. The show performs decently in the digital world, where it nearly doubles its (small) audience.

ABC Family’s new Pretty Little Liars spinoff, Ravenswood, is a unique case. When the show’s first episode followed its predecessor’s Halloween special, Ravenswood drew over two million viewers and became the network’s biggest pilot ever. However, when it was the only show on its regular night, its numbers drastically dropped to just over one million—almost half of its audience. With Pretty Little Liars nabbing an (almost) series high with its special, Ravenswood is under performing.

This has not gone unnoticed by the network. In an effort to save the series, its 10-episode first season has been cut in half. Only five episodes will air in 2013 (the last will air this Tuesday at 8 p.m.). The other five will air in 2014, following new episodes of Pretty Little Liars. Will airing after its predecessor allow Ravenswood to post record numbers again, or is it as dead as its main character Miranda? Only time will tell.

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