The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the agents are drinking. It's upfronts season in New York! This is the week the broadcast networks throw fancy parties to announce the new shows they'll be canceling in a few months and celebrate the returning veterans whose survival was brokered through a bruising backroom combination of studio strong-arming, dumb luck, and blind optimism. Over the next few days I'll be posting my thoughts on all of the announcements, with the giant caveat that I haven't yet actually seen any of the new shows in question. Which isn't such a big deal because, odds are, you won't be seeing them for very long either.
Next up: Fox
Fox established itself in the '80s by acting brash, but it's only in the past few seasons that it began to seem cocky. Aided, as always, by its reduced schedule (Fox programs six fewer hours per week than its competitors), abetted by the stability of its Sunday-night animation block, and rocket-fueled by the dominant presence of American Idol — a ratings brontosaurus in a post-meteor world — Fox was able to take chances, make mistakes, and still come out on top. Not in terms of total viewers, of course — CBS owns that metric like its viewers own Life Alert alarms — but in terms of the much coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. When network chairman Kevin Reilly successfully launched New Girl in 2011, he was not only thumbing his nose at his former employers at NBC (New Girl is precisely the kind of smart, urban single-cam sitcom that the Peacock used to make hay with), he was suggesting that Fox's brand was no longer a savvy mix of action-packed hours, reality singing, and general coarseness. He was suggesting that Fox's new brand was success.