Every now and then, you might muse on the absurdity of modern life by thinking that Dr. Phil, Oprah protege, has a TV show based on his past life as a trial consultant. It’s called Bull. You may not be watching it, but somebody sure is, because according to Nielsen, it’s the one of the most watched shows of 2016.
Nielsen has released its list of most watched shows, and amid the expected results of The Big Bang Theory continuing its reign of terror at number one, crime-fighting acronyms being everywhere, and everybody watching The Walking Dead despite nobody seeming to enjoy it all that much anymore, there were two surprising additions. The first is Keifer Sutherland’s political crisis drama Designated Survivor, which isn’t a surprise as the show was and is quite good.
Bull, though, is a bigger surprise. On average, it’s just a million viewers or so short of tackling The Walking Dead any given week. On paper, it sounds like a joke: Set in the modern day, it’s based on Dr. Phil’s previous career as a trial consultant in Texas. Yes, before he was on Oprah and started hosting talk shows, he was an expert witness. In fact, that’s how he met Oprah Winfrey in the first place.
Perhaps it’s less of a surprise it was a hit when you realize it was co-created by Paul Attanasio, best known for House and Homicide: Life On The Streets. Still, it didn’t make much of a splash with critics, and viewers seemed unexcited, making it an unlikely candidate for the top ten, let alone the top five. That said, impressive though this success is, it’s worth remembering that TV, overall, is struggling. A decade ago, American Idol regularly pulled in over 30 million viewers. So perhaps any assumption about popularity should be put in context, lest it be considered, well, bull.