Well, that didn’t last long. Less than 24 hours after its inaugural episodes, the suits at Fox pulled the plug on Anchorwoman - citing amazingly low ratings for such a ballyhooed debut. Last night I sat down to watch it via the magic of DVR and found myself less repulsed than first expected. Sure, it was a highly contrived human cartoon, but even Mrs. Lenslinger recognized a few characters from my newsgathering past: the greasy General Manager with the bimbo fetish, the hapless News Director who’s sold his soul to the company store, the shrewish young reporter on the verge of an all-out claw-out, the lifer photog schlub who thinks he’s shot it all … Hey wait a minute, that’s ME!
Honestly, it’s probably best that Anchorwoman died on arrival. For had it continued, I suspect the supporting cast (of supposed true-life players) would no doubt have continued to hog Lauren Jones’ spotlight. After all, real-life parodies are far more intriguing than silicone-enhanced swimsuit models - once you get past the ‘clevelidge’, of course. No, the chintzy environs and wacky inhabitants of a bottom-feeder market didn’t exactly elevate the form. I mean - c’mon - that was one ugly affiliate. Back at my own shop, we all had a fine time pointing and giggling at some universal truths we recognized in the show, but do we really want viewers to form their opinions from a station that boasts ’Stormy the Weather Dog’? don’t we already rank low enough in public opinion polls?
Truth is, sit-coms, one-hour dramas and contrived reality shows have never correctly pegged the TV newsroom milieu. Mary Tyler Moore came close I guess, but it was a more a tale of female empowerment and girlish charm than a realistic indictment of local broadcasting (Ted Baxter, notwithstanding). In the early nineties, Murphy Brown gave it a go, but between the broad slapstick and the main character’s mugging, I never could bring myself to tune in for more than three minutes at the time. I’m sure other shows have tackled the subject but I’ve mercifully found a way to live without them. It’s a drag though, for as Anchorwoman briefly proved, your garden variety TV station features enough farce and fanatics to to fuel a lifetime of chortling episodes. Maybe they’ll have better luck with Back to You…
I doubt it, though.