Sitcoms as Venue for Media Research Industry Criticism
I have long stated that sitcoms serve as a venue for media industry criticism because of their use of parody and satire. I believe that Married With Children started this trend by taking swipes at what market researchers claim to know about audiences and the television ratings system. In “The Goodbye Girl,” Kelly takes a job at TV World, a television-themed amusement park. Her job is threatened when she receives “low performance ratings” and three viewer complaints that could lead to “cancellation.” Her boss is named Mr. Nielsen, which is an obvious reference to Nielsen Media Research.
The trend of media industry criticism has continued with the ABC season premiere of Scrubs. At the very end of the episode, J.D. notices an unhappy couple to which Elliot responds, “The Nielsens didn’t like their ratings.” This was a clever reference to NBC dropping Scrubs from its Thursday night lineup. With the media and research industry in flux, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of this creative commentary.