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An investigation into people’s
viewing habits: What makes TV shows successful?

Friends, Game of thrones,
Breaking Bad. All award winning shows but what makes them so appealing? As the
opening of the seventh season of Game of Thrones, it brought in 16.1 million
people. 1
This number is astonishing for any TV show, which reveals that producers know
specifically what gains people’s attention following their: interests,
lifestyle, careers and character.

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Producers of Friends
especially knew how to manipulate all the characteristics above on how to gains
peoples attention because many people have denied that Friends is not a sitcom
instead they refer it being a whole “experience”2.
This in many ways makes a lot of sense because a lot of people could relate to the
show due to their lives being in the same situation as the characters of the
show. This made it certainly popular with many people all over the world.

In addition, it had
characters no other TV show had. The characters and all the actors played it to
the perfection of their role. Each character had something special and
bothersome at the same time. Producers knew there is a bit of Ross, Rachel,
Joey, Monica, Phoebe and Chandler in each one of us and these characters and
their personalities help us in discovering ourselves. This is one of the many
reasons why friends had such an impact on people’s lives and it is till this
day still one of the best and most popular 3( – liked, enjoyed, or supported by many
people) sitcoms ever.

Breaking Bad has a vast variety
of genres all put together brilliantly, such as drama, thriller, black comedy,
suspense and crime fiction. These genres were chosen by the producers of
Breaking Bad which is what subsequently made it successful and widespread the
world. As the ending of the grand series finale for Breaking Bad it smashed
10.3 million viewers4!

The TV shows I’m going to
talk about have all been fan favourites for a long time, some have even
finished and are still one of the biggest hits in these generations. Producers
have to make everyone satisfied with the TV show they are creating in order to
get viewers. So they have to adapt to a wide variety of people’s viewing
habits. This can sometimes make producers do immense sacrifices so they can
please their crowd and not put some people off it due to discrimination etc.
However, these three TV shows have mastered it all and are balanced perfectly
to satisfy their vast audience’s attitudes towards good TV shows.

Following on from this
since the TV shows I have chosen have a lot of popularity, this also means they
have a really high income from their audiences. This can help TV shows and
their producers have a wider range of choices to satisfy their audiences.

The term these TV shows
have all been labelled as is, ‘Successful’. Which means that all shows I am
going to be talking about “have achieved a
lot, become popular, and/or
made a lot of money”5.

Game of
Thrones is such an enormous expense on HBO. It is reported that around $6
million is spent by the producers of “Game of Thrones” to make an
episode. Each season of Game of Thrones has about ten episodes each. With the
price of one episode being $6 million over a whole season that makes a whopping
$60 – $70 million per season6.
These statistics show us just how expensive it is to produce such a great
master pieces loved by many. However, with this in mind the tv show is also
really popular and gets on average 9.3 million viewers per episode. According
to New York Times, Game of Thrones generates “slightly more than $1
billion annually,”7.

Another
tv show that still earns more than $1 billion annually would be FRIENDS! The
final episode aired on 6 May 2004.  It
has been fourteen years since the last episode of friends was aired on live
television and it still bring a staggering amount of more than $1 billion per
year! This is all due to their success as a TV show and the popularity it
bought them which in turn helped them gain a lot of viewers/supports of the TV
show Friends. The cast earn $20 million annual pay-checks each, who each make
2% of that overall income. $20 million. Each year. For doing nothing8.

Breaking
Bad was also doing remarkably well economically due to their success as a TV
show. With their main cast earning £150/225k per episode. This all racks up to
$1.2/1.8 million per season9!
This are just statistics for the two-main people of the TV show, Cranston and
Paul.

Game of Thrones has become so appealing for viewers over the past few
years. Especially for women that are looking for shows that show viewers that
women aren’t always showed as the incapable ones but actually have an enormous impact
on the show and its development. GOT breaks the trend of showing women as
powerless, inferior to men. Game of Thrones is a show that has very strong character
development and women that are leaders of the so called the throne name. Daenerys
Targaryen is a powerful leader of her people in the show that has handily
earned her titles Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains and Khaleesi of the
Great Grass Sea, not to mention all the other titles she claims as rightful
heir to the Iron Throne.10
She is a woman and has the biggest support from all the groups of guards and
other noble families from the show which shows how much the producers make
women seem boundless. In addition, Brienne of Tarth is a very strong warrior which
is what the show wants, rebuking any stereotypes what a lady’s “proper
role” should be, Brienne wears her armour and wields her sword better than
any male knight who has the misfortune to challenge her. She has a huge
importance of strength and honour in women of the show. These are just few
examples of women being in power and that are look up to in GOT not due to
their gender but their capabilities as a character and individual. This makes
GOT very appealing for women thus the viewership of women shows a high
statistical frequency for the show. Approximately 2.2 million women are tuning
in to the show on average each week this is about about 42 percent of Thrones’
total 4.8 million viewers11.

In 2014 a Telegraph woman writer named: Charlotte Runcie stated “”Amid
all of the lurid goings-on, somehow, this show has slowly revealed some of the
most magnificent women ever committed to the small screen12,”

Producers of Game of Thrones have been certainly clever about increasing
their viewership of audience from different genders, where as there are some TV
shows that producers have decided women should be portrayed as a shadow of a
man. Thus, making them look dependent on men. Tv shows such as Home Improvement
had every joke and gag was about how men were the machoism creatures to walk on
this planet. Women? Not so much13.
Another Tv show named the ‘The Wonder Years’, shows a woman by the name of Winnie
Cooper which is also part of the main characters (mainly men) is given such low
self-esteem. The producers made one of the main female characters surrounded by
all boys with high self-esteem, but she was on the other hand given no
confidence and is always doubtful of her plans and future. These are only out
of men Tv shows that lack female empowerment. This makes them no so popular
with the female audience and thus not pulling ground breaking viewership’s from
people.

Creator of Game of Thrones: George RR Martin has really strong female
views in his day to day life. He said in an interview that ‘I’m a feminist at
heart’14.
In another interview in 2012 George RR Martin appeared as a guest on the
Canadian Broadcast Network show Stroumboulopoulos Tonight hosted by George
Stroumboulopoulos. George RR Martin was asked this question “There’s one thing
that’s interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well
and really different. Where does that come from?”. and the answer the creator
of GOT gave was brilliant, he stated that “You know I’ve always considered
women to be people.15”

The show “Friends” became the first long running sitcom, when it got the
highest rating for it on US television. Friends won an Emmy, award for the Best
Comedy Series category, which was another first. The show was praised for lack
of violent content. Although, there were few critical responses over some
contents, it did not stop celebrities to play and guest appearance role in this
show which includes: Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Helen Hunt, Elliot Gould,
Charlie sheen and others. Despite other competitive sitcoms Friends managed to
remain at its place that is for both social phenomenon and hugely entertaining
television show. According to one of the experts Friends is one of those show
which marked a change in American culture. The portrayal of youth and the roles
they play are well defined and represents a lifestyle that focuses around
creating and maintaining relationship between a group of friends running their
own lives and seeking support from each other In audience appeal, Friends was
undoubtedly stayed in the nineties and as well as in the early years of twentieth
century. As with time, the reviews got more positive than negative, it
progressed and Friends become a most popular hit sitcom. It is still ranked as
among time best TV shows (Cosgrove) Critics praised the series for having
persistently spiky dialogue script and the chemistry among the most important
actors was extra ordinary. Some praised the finale for being more touching and
more satisfying as reflecting to the closure it gave

There are very few of the sitcoms in the history of television which
have had long-term Cultural impact. It does not matter how much you categorize
the TV programs or how much influence the novel reality trend has on it; it is
a fact that will remain that television sitcoms are not realistic. It’s
impossible for it to be 100% real because TV is not reality. The stories
included are however chunks of the maker’s perception. Which they always edit,
filter, and script it to manipulate the audiences to drag hug amount of
attention and fan following. Rachel’s hairstyle was noticed a lot tit was even
nicknamed as “The Rachel” and adopted by many. Joe’s catchphrase “How you
doin’?” also became popular and imitated by many as a pickup line or when
greeting or making new friends. Chandler’s sarcasm and jokes also influenced
viewers it also developed an alternative lifestyle where young people live
unconventional domestic lives, it brings to a close way that all you need is
some good friends and you can put up family of your choice. This new way of
living and developing relationships is not normally seen in conventional
society.

Friend’s charecters have been well develop to reflect on real life which
all viewers of the show can relate to.

Monica was kind of the mother of the group. In the episode “The One With
The Two Parties” where Rachel’s birthday was split in two. Chandler and Joey’s
party was all about relaxing and fun, whereas Monica’s party was all about
organized activities for everyone to “enjoy.” Like those arts and crafts
activities, you would do at your cousin’s 7th birthday party where you got to
take home a bottle of colourful sand or a picture frame made from macaroni. Which
is a Total mom move.16

You got to give props to Rachel. She left her family money, made a
successful career out of nothing, and had a kid on her own. She worked really
hard to get to where she was. She was always herself and did exactly what she
wanted whether it was leaving a doomed suburban life with Barry or wearing a
huge floppy hat even though everyone else made fun of it.

Ross is pretty passionate about a lot of things through the course of
Friends. Dinosaurs and Rachel are an obvious two. But he can be pretty intense
about some random things. Like a leftover sandwich, wanting every single person
in his apartment complex to like him, and hoarding every removable object from
hotel rooms. His quirks like these make him a dynamite character to watch. And
by dynamite, I mean that it’s likely he’ll explode at any moment.

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ok no ok no ok no ok no okOne of the most worrying features of a television show is
that, intermittently, it needs to change. This is fittingly, given our anti-hero’s
action what Breaking Bad excelled at most . Vince Gilligan and his creative
team, and indeed the show’s enormously talented cast, revelled in the process
of moulding the new together with the old, taking what was and defiantly
shaping what was meant to be. Incidentally, on a production level as much as a
character level I feel that the crux of Breaking Bad’s developmental success
was that the writers had no idea what they were doing, with much of the show’s
most engrossing drama focusing on how its characters adapt to the almost-random
chaos thrown at them.

To complement and enhance the series’ production values and
story-telling structure are the people we watch the show for: Walter White and
Jesse Pinkman, as well as the series’ wealth of other morally ambiguous
characters. Moral ambiguity is something each and every one of us have dealt
with at one time or another. Most of our ‘tough’ choices come in the form of
moments like whether it would really be so bad if you pulled a sickie, knowing
you could well selfishly ruin another person’s day or if you are a
fundamentally bad person for stealing some of your housemate’s bread and then
lying to them, perhaps even blaming another housemate. Breaking Bad’s moral
compass is just relatability taken to the extreme. We can’t help but feel for
and be right behind Mr Walter Hartwell White through thick and thin because he
is (or was) a normal guy simply trying to do right for his family and to leave
behind a legacy when he’s gone from this world instead of just a withered
corpse that couldn’t even provide for its family and whose to say that put in
the same position we wouldn’t make the same choices as Mr White?

 

Friends has done things in a different way right from the begging of its
release. It joined a growing number of sitcoms that had started to integrate
marriages, children growth, people changing jobs, long narrative but it took
this way further then all the others that’s what makes it so unique. It chose
to make these story fundamentals of the show (with the Ross and Rachel on-off
relationship as, debatably, the central hook) just as significant as its
comedic ones. Friends blew more traditional sitcom plots. This was what kept us
all hooked. It meant that viewers dipping in for a one-off watch were rewarded
with a neatly concluded set of sitcom sub-plots a whole episode based on six
characters failing to leave the apartment for a museum awards dinner but the loyal
viewers would tune in week after week to follow the unfolding love stories,
career dramas and quarter-life crises due to it being so different.

Of course, these storylines would hold no interest at all for viewers if
we didn’t care about the characters. Comedy so often works with stereotypes,
and Friends offered these up too: the professor, the ditzy blonde, the Italian
lothario. But it also sought to make its characters rounded and believable.
Chandler is impossibly quick-witted, but he does the most boring job imaginable
(so boring nobody can even name it). Phoebe seems naïve, but has struggled in
her past. Before shooting the pilot episode, Friends producers spent time with
each actor, “in order to steal from our lives”, (half) joked Matthew Perry. As
well as cementing the link between actor and character, this also enhanced the
degree to which each character became recognisable as a human being. As
television reporter Kay McFadden noted, our attraction to the Friends
characters wasn’t to do with how nice they were. It was to do with “who
reminded you most of the people you knew”. An almost universal reaction to
Friends was the desire to pick which “type” we were. My mum, with her
borderline neurotic cleaning, was definitely a Monica, who even vacuums her own
vacuum. If I was going to get a boyfriend, he had to be funny, like Chandler.

The tears of goodbye shed in the final episode are not just those of six
fictional characters saying goodbye to each other. They are the tears of six
friends who realise that a huge part of their lives are changing for good. The
characters, however, were only so recognisable because of their oh-too-familiar
situation. The surrogate family presented by Friends seemed to provide a
comfort to its target audience, who were going through similar struggles as the
six leads: dead-end jobs, tiffs with housemates, finding a partner who isn’t
completely maladjusted. Unlike so many sitcoms before it, which had presented
their viewers with the finished ideal of the nuclear family.17

 

 

 

 

1 Madeline
Berg, JUL 17, 2017, Game Of Thrones’ Smashes HBO Ratings Records With Season 7
Premiere, Forbes,

2 Anmol Gupta, Dec 22, 2015, Why was Friends (the TV show) so successful and
popular? , Quora

3 https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/popular
– 23/12/2017

4  James Hibberd September 30, 2013 AT 06:08 PM,
‘Breaking Bad’ series finale ratings smash all records, EW.com

5 https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/successful
– 03/11/2017

6 Josh
Norris, Jul 26 2017, How much money has Game of Thrones made for its producers?,
Quora

7 Joe
Nichols, Apr 25, 2016, Game of Thrones – How Many Millions Has It Made So Far?,
Jobs & Hires

8 Arienne
Thompson, Feb. 27, 2015, You’ll never believe how much money the ‘Friends’ cast
STILL earns today, USA TODAY

9 Kirsten
Acuna, Aug. 30, 2013, Here’s How Much Aaron Paul And Bryan Cranston Earn For
‘Breaking Bad’, businessinsider

10 http://www.tvguide.com/galleries/badass-ladies-game-of-thrones-1091424/2/
04/01/2018

11 Adam
Young, Monday, 3 February 2014, YES, WOMEN REALLY DO LIKE GAME OF THRONES (WE
HAVE PROOF), blogspot

12 Molly
Driscoll, MARCH 28, 2016, How does hit HBO drama ‘Game of Thrones’ portray
women?, csmonitor

13 AMY
MACKELDEN, Mar 8 2016, 13 Most Anti-Feminist Moments From ’90s TV, Bustle

14 Jessica
Salter, 01 Apr 2013 Game of Thrones’s George RR Martin: ‘I’m a feminist at
heart’, telegraph

15 Joe
Vesey-Byrne, 12/03/2017, George RR Martin had a brillant response when asked
how he writes women, indy100

16 https://www.ukessays.com/essays/film-studies/deep-analysis-of-the-show-friends.php

17
Rex Features 20/04/2017  Why ‘Friends’
was and still is a TV phenomenon. – Stylist

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