Must Entertainment Be Shallow To Succeed?

Harkening back to a previous post, I’m still thinking about ‘The OA’ and wondering — if the creative team hadn’t overplayed the suspense card, would the show have made its audience numbers?

I returned to watch the Season One finale. It kept my attention for the full forty-three minutes, and I became mighty curious to understand the problem.

Rotten Tomatoes gave Season One a 77% critic score (66 reviews) and 78% audience score (2379 ratings). Season Two did better, but Netflix reportedly decided to cancel while it was still shooting.

Critics called it pretentious. The audience called it original, refreshing, a departure from the usual fare, and lobbied like crazy for a third season. So, inattention to narrative cycles doesn’t appear to have been as important a defect as I thought.

Did The OA simply fail to reach enough of its target audience? I wasn’t drawn in by the story description — I was bored, and desperate. A better logline for my demographic might have said, ‘Are you looking for high concept, thoughtful, classy? Shop here!’ If it had, I would have watched a lot sooner.

I care about this because I, too, am in the business of pitching not-shallow stories. After I finish the next two books, I’ll invest in advertising — and I hope by then I’ll know how to sell the kind of material represented by shows like The OA.

Are you shopping for uncommon entertainment? What do you look for? Tell me in the comments.

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