If we have learned anything from our years and years of interviewing network executives, producers and actors, it’s that making TV is not easy. So, the occasional foul-up and blunder is bound to happen along the way.
All of which is our genteel way of saying… that it is that time, in TVLine’s annual Year in Review, to take stock of the (how do we say this politely?) “questionable” calls made over the past 12 months, and the [Consulting thesaurus again] “dubious” handling of some PR hot potatoes.
Among this year’s ignominious ideas were one sitcom’s overt replacement of two POC characters with two other POC characters… the Academy Awards’ decision to bet on an emotional finish… Disney+ angling to test our patience a la HBO’s infamous Game of Thrones reveal… and, of course, the rightly scrutinized conclusion of Jeopardy!‘s months-long host hunt.
Also due for dings are the confusing+ presentation of this year’s Tony Awards, a criminally unceremonious send-off for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Comic-Con’s turkey of a scheduling idea, and much more.
Review our curation of the Dumb Things TV Did This Year, then feel free to let loose with your own loud raspberries!
Still ahead in TVLine’s #2021inReview: The Performer of the Year, Quotes of the Year, The ‘Ships of the Year, the Best Series Finales and so, so much more.
THE OSCARS GAMBLE... AND LOSE
The producers of this year’s Academy Awards caught many off-guard by switching up the very traditional run-of-show — announcing Best Picture earlier than usual so as to close out the night with Best Actress and then Best Actor. The calculated hope was to bring the ceremony to an emotional finish, presuming that the late Chadwick Boseman would be named the winner, for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Instead, the evening ended with Joaquin Phoenix announcing a comparatively anticlimactic win for (an absent) Anthony Hopkins.
American Housewife, in what would be its final season, replaced its only Black character (Carly Hughes’ Angela) and its only Asian American character (Ali Wong’s Doris) with… another Black character (Holly Robinson Peete’s Tami) and another Asian American character (Jake Choi’s J.D.). What, did they think no one would notice?
DISNEY STREAMING TEASE IS ALL WET
Remember when, in July, Disney+ hyped up/invited people to sit through a three-hour live stream — of an actual, serene stream — just to (eventually!) reveal Dave Bautista as the new Disney Bundle pitchman, “The Streamer”? Suddenly, watching that Game of Thrones ice block melt sounded fun.
THE PEAK OF... CONFUSION
We absolutely get that CBS has a new-ish streaming service, Paramount+, for which to drum up interest, but the splitting up of the actual Tony Awards vs. Tony Awards-adjacent content on Sept. 26 has our head spinning to this day.
Similarly (and despite TVLine’s very best efforts to educate), SEAL Team‘s midseason transition from CBS to Paramount+ appeared to leave many of its faithful viewers confused if not unable to follow Bravo to their new base.
A BROOKLYN NINE-NINE COP-OUT
A beloved, Golden Globe-winning comedy has its long-awaited final season squeezed into the dog days of summer, aired two episodes at a time over five non-consecutive weeks, and with little promotion? That was not noice.
NCIS MISSES THE MARK
The bittersweet send-off for the star of TV’s most watched drama, after 18-plus seasons, should have been a major TV event, complete with “You won’t wanna miss it!” hype. Instead, CBS frontman Mark Harmon’s final episode (at least for the foreseeable future) was not promoted at all as such, depriving the recently relocated series of, among other things, a little ratings bounce.
COMIC-CON IDEA IS A REAL TURKEY
Angling to return to some semblance of normalcy, San Diego Comic-Con organizers announced in the spring that, in addition to another (albeit abbreviated) summertime Comic-Con@Home streaming event, it would hold in person a Comic-Con Special Edition — which took place Friday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 28… aka Thanksgiving weekend.
(To be fair, the supervillain here was the San Diego Convention Center’s schedule. “We didn’t ask for those dates,” SDCC’s CMO told Forbes. “We asked what was available in terms of getting both exhibition space and meeting rooms, and providing enough time on either side of the event for setup.”)
'THIS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HANDLED WORSE'
“What is Jeopardy!‘s convoluted search for a new host, and how it (briefly) ended with the hiring of a problematic executive producer?”
SURVIVOR TWISTS, PLAYERS SHOUT
We could go on (and in fact did!) about how Survivor Season 41 uncorked a few convoluted twists too many. But let us say, once again, that the hourglass “twist” — to cite one example — not only falls under “Dopey Rule Changes,” but it pissed off quite a few of the cast members, as well.
FX JUMPS THROUGH HULU HOOPS
We didn’t envy Disney’s pre-pandemic dilemma, when upon scooping up FX it labored to make the prestige cabler’s content stand apart on its Hulu service. “FX on Hulu” as a hub/name was never perfect, especially when it was unclear if said shows could also be watched linearly.
The very recent decision to unravel that branding, though, and label those series as simply “FX” promises to cause even similar confusion, especially given [see next slide below].
LIFE IS NOT A STREAM FOR IMPEACHMENT, POSE
Prestige FX series such as Impeachment: American Crime Story and the final season of Pose — though not FX on Hulu originals — surely were available for next-day streaming on Hulu? Or available somewhere, right? Wrong. Neither drama could be streamed in-season, undoubtedly compromising their potential for word-of-mouth buzz.
BACHELOR NATION REALLY BOTCHES IT
To recap this mess: When asked to weigh in on photos that Bachelor Season 25’s Rachael Kirkconnell had shared on social media (of her attending an Antebellum party three years prior), franchise host Chris Harrison — when speaking with Rachel Lindsay, aka ABC’s first Black Bachelorette — elected to lambaste the “judge, jury, executioner” nature of the “cancel culture” that had targeted Kirkconnell.
Despite Lindsay’s valid counterpoints that the Antebellum party reinforced racist stereotypes, Harrison never conceded his stance. Bachelor Nation producers then took their time — nearly two months after Lindsay parted ways with the franchise in late March — deciding to end Harrison’s run as frontman, effectively allowing Lindsay to be villainized by fans.