Gotham is a favorite around here because it’s gory, elaborate, and utterly unpredictable. This week’s episode had a surprisingly powerful moment where Bruce confronts his parents’ murderer, sandwiched between Penguin’s over-the-top time in an insane asylum and Alfred taking Bruce to a fight club. And we’ll have at least twenty-two more episodes, but not for the reasons you might expect.
It’s not because the show is killing it in the ratings. The same day ratings are solid, but modest. No, what’s driving Gotham is the fact that Gotham is a top 10 hit in key demographics on Hulu and DVR:
Gotham has been doing a solid business in multi-platform viewing, averaging 9 million total viewers in season two, and has done well with male demos. The series ranks among this season’s Top 10 entertainment programs overall among Men 18-49, and is among the season’s Top 5 broadcast dramas among Men 18-49 and Men 18-34.
Just goes to show you that if you make it gory and over-the-top, you’ll draw eyeballs. Still, this is good news not least because Gotham has steadily improved over time. It’s pruned away plotlines that don’t work and started polishing up the good ones. It’s also gotten superb work out of its cast as it’s built an elaborate story of corruption and tangled together Bruce Wayne, the Penguin, and Jim Gordon in a messy web of conflicting emotions and loyalties. And, who knows, if it keeps doing well, Sean Pertwee’s Alfred, a surprisingly credible action hero/terrible parent, may even get a spin-off of his own.
It also shows how television is changing. Even five years ago, Gotham‘s sale to Netflix before it aired an episode and its Hulu numbers wouldn’t have mattered to either the network or the company producing it. Gotham isn’t really “mainstream” television by any yardstick; it pushes the envelope of what you can show on broadcast TV, and it’s willing to run with some truly ridiculous plot twists. But thanks to digital, it not only found an audience, it found a big enough audience to get an early renewal. We won’t be surprised if Gotham isn’t the only beneficiary of the changing ways executives view television.