It’s no surprise that the world of reality television is getting stale. Really stale. The music competition shows that once ruled the airwaves are showing signs of fatigue and the new crop of weekly shows that center around party people, pregnant teenagers and other privileged individuals are just bad. However, we also have the category of reality shows centering around singers and groups who want to have the cameras film their every move because their new material isn’t moving copies and they need to so that they can pay back their record group in order for the label to inevitably buy new coffee mugs for the office. Sound familiar? That’s sort of how it goes, at least in the more desperate situations. Two recent shows have been failing to meet the expectations in the ratings department for acts that have rather large fan bases, and so, another things that needs to stop: boy bands doing reality shows.
This is clearly not the first time boy bands have been featured on a weekly television show. Both the Jackson Five and the New Kids On The Block had Saturday morning cartoons, but both never made it beyond a second season. You’ll also remember ABC’s Making The Band, which started airing in 2000 with the help of hot manager at the time and now convict Lou Pearlman. The first season formed O-Town, who had two top ten singles and two albums… and two more seasons of the show on MTV, which probably weren’t needed but the producers thought they could sustain audience by showing them performing and doing every day actions. The group broke up in 2003. A similar reality show took place in 2007 that tried to form a new version of Menudo, but that also floundered, and a single by the group barely cracked the top 40 on one radio format. They were done by 2009.
In the summer of 2012, E! began airing Married To Jonas, a series created by Ryan Seacrest Productions that followed Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and his wife Danielle Deleasa in their lives. The series also followed a musical comeback by the three brothers, first playing in concert (season one) then recording an album and releasing a single with a subsequent music video (season two). While the series initially did well, the ratings began to tank about halfway into its first season, going from a high of 2.21 million viewers to a low of just 720,000 in the next-to-last episode. By some miracle, it was renewed to even worse results. It debuted with 990,000 viewers this past April, sinking to a low of 570,000 just weeks later. Even with a time shift from 10:30 to 10PM, nothing could help it. The single I alluded to, “Pom Poms”, leaked several days before its official premiere, but quickly went top ten on iTunes on its release day before nosediving off the charts. It also received little radio airplay. As an independent project, it couldn’t be sustained, and with promotion to such a reduced audience, it could’ve never built itself up to be a hit. The show has yet to be cancelled, but I suspect it will be. No album release date has surfaced.
Just last week, another RSP show, The Wanted Life, debuted on the same channel and follows British boy band The Wanted fooling around in some mansion in the Los Angeles. In the first episode, we’re shown footage of them recording their tacky new single, “Walks Like Rihanna”, which sold just under 18,000 copies in its first week, amounting to a #121 debut on the Digital Songs Chart. They, unlike the Jonas Brothers, have only had one legitimately big single which struggled for months to pick up stations before suddenly breaking out. That would be the #3 Hot 100 hit “Glad You Came”; it was serviced to mainstream radio in August 2011 before finally making the top 40 in January 2012 after a performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Their album came and went and so did a few other singles that didn’t chart well, and thus, the boys only managed a 600,000 viewer debut for that first episode. Oops. Sounds a little unwanted, if you ask me. Who knows what the future holds for the show?
So, when a show like this flops, who is to blame? Is it the artist whose name isn’t big enough to sell a show? Is it their management for proposing the idea in the first place? Is it their label not doing enough to promote it? Is it the production crew for filming subpar footage? Is it the editing crew for piecing together a show that doesn’t work? Is it the network airing it at the wrong time on the wrong day? Maybe it’s a little bit of all of these things. What was wrong with a one-off special, a la Diary or Making The Video or Unplugged all on MTV? They might not exist for the most part, but there’s still ways to bring them back. Alas, people don’t learn. I do like some of the music by both The Wanted and the Jonas Brothers, but seriously, do I need a half hour show to tell me that Deleasa and Jonas are still in love or an hour or that The Wanted can party hard and wreck their house in an hour? Absolutely not.
So, Big Time Rush (you already have a sitcom), Emblem3, One Direction and all you other boy bands out there, go ahead with your concert movies, but please, please don’t bother wasting your own time and the network’s time by trying to make a reality show. It hits all the wrong notes.
Let me know what you think about this in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.