The three best networks on television are, in no particular order: FX, HBO, and AMC. Both have had a remarkable run of great series, although FX kind of muddied their waters with Russell Brand and Charlie Sheen, while HBO is determined to be the home to quality dramas and dramedies, even if they are sometimes dull (Enlightened) or, arguably, overwrought (Newsroom). AMC, on the other hand, had a sterling track record with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Then they gave us Rubicon, which was not terribly well received, but at least it was very AMC-like (and beloved by four people), The Killing (what should’ve been great show if it hadn’t been mismanaged by Veena Sud), and Hell on Wheels, another show befitting the AMC brand but that not everyone has gotten into.
However, AMC is now officially tanking the brand, going from great and potentially-great dramas to reality crap. Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men was just the beginning, followed by The Pitch, a decent enough reality show if you’re into the advertising industry. But pairing Small Town Security with Breaking Bad was like pairing a beautiful steak dinner with a bowl full of upchuck for dessert.
Unfortunately, it’s not getting better, as AMC veers further and further from the shows that put them on the map.
Indeed, while AMC is developing two potentially promising dramas — one about George Washington and spies during the Revolutionary War, and another about the computer industry in the 1980s — it’s also filling up on reality fare. In addition to renewing Comic Book Men and Small Town Security (GUH!), AMC is also launching Freakshow, a reality show that will follow a family behind a Venice Beach boardwalk freakshow attraction (sounds like a TLC program) and Immortalized, a reality competition series about taxidermists (sounds like a History Channel show). Add to that another reality competition, Owner’s Manual, which will pit two people against each other in a competition to see if it’s better to build with or without an owner’s manual, which sounds like another History channel show.
At least, AMC has seen fit to separate its drama from its reality programming, keeping the dramas on Sundays, and now launching all these reality shows in a Thursday night block. However, I think their brand would be much better off sticking exclusively to dramas. These reality shows will do little but dilute the once pristine reputation of the network.