Why some TV shows get aired and some don’t
We live in the golden age of TV. This decade has been hailed as “Peak TV” for television, as every show on air is a gripping spectacular, with viewers confused over what not to watch. There is new and exciting content across all genres. It would take years to finish watching all the seasons of series which have been produced in this decade alone.
This is how the world of TV is shaping up. Even if it seems like Netflix produces and streams just about any script that lands on their table, the number of scripts being rejected has not changed much. Piles of scripts don’t make it past “the reader”.
During the open season (between June and July), networks receive nearly 500 scripts. Out of those, the network turns 50-100 scripts into pilot scripts. Of those, only 10-20 become pilot episodes, and only 5 out of those make it as far as a full-series production. This means your TV script has a meager 1% chance of being aired.
So, let’s take a look at some pitfalls that make scripts a clear give-away on the rejection radar.
1) Mediocre writing
This is something all established writers in the industry faced when they started off. The first couple of scripts generally turn out to be abysmal – they are going nowhere near the studios. As writers hone their writing skills, spend more time in the industry and finally have a show to their name, only then do they understand the standards a workable TV script demands.
2) It’s been done to death
The script brings nothing new to the screen. If it’s going to be the same old situation comedy about a dysfunctional family or a group of friends, a crime show focused on a police department intended to stretch for 10 seasons, or a family drama with dark characters, chances are that producers don’t want to produce a pilot episode for it. They’ve seen it all before!
3) Creative differences
Clash of the egos between the show’s studio execs and writers can lead to a show being called off midway through the run or even before it’s been aired. Even if producers and writers work closely together, rifts can happen between them and it can prove to be disastrous for everyone. The equilibrium of the unit gets disturbed, and it could lead to actors and technicians walking out, causing the show’s early demise.
4) The game has changed
Writers don’t have to impress studio execs and advertisers to get a slot on TV anymore. It’s only the audience, and the audience wants content. That’s why we see that network TV shows have been pretty much following the same tropes for years, which have resulted in poor ratings. On the other hand, shows hosted on streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu are charting new territories. They’ve been pushing out content that viewers haven’t seen before.
It doesn’t matter if the script is written for network, cable or online streaming. The content has to be written keeping the audience in mind. They are demanding and also spoilt for choice.
5) Presentation matters
How the script is presented is also a factor that needs to be given serious consideration by a studio. A set format and layout need to be followed to make it a proper industry standard script. Imagine a Breaking Bad being passed on only because the script was riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. That would have been a massive loss to viewers and the TV world. Thank God, Vince Gilligan was good at his craft or at least had a “Script Doctor” go through his writing before passing it on to AMC.
Now you know how to prepare a script which weighs more in terms of quality and acceptance. If you want reassurance about the quality and content of your script, PaperTrue is more than willing to serve as your Script Doctor.
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