Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


-- television -- playmakers: the cheese stands alone (a quick take review)

Just wondering, has anyone paid attention to ESPN's Playmakers? I've been watching the past few episodes. It's not good -- it's not remotely in the same neighborhood as good. It is, frankly, the cheesiest thing that you will see on television, including Fox's The OC (the only other real prime time soaper) and every daytime soap opera.

Basically, the show is a soap opera for men. Recent plotlines have included a nightclub shooting, team agita about "the piss man", one player who was sleeping with other women because he wanted to commit to one and the fact that he wanted to terrified him, the spousally battering player, the drug using player who nearly killed a girl and wound up in rehab but because of the spousally battering players misfortunes becomes the starting QB, the gay player whose closet door is about to be blown off its hinges, the player who has been shtupping everything female he can find and one of them is apparently pregnant ... oh, and occasionally, they, like, play football games. Who knew? Pretty much every soap opera cliche you could think of, in a show with a largely male cast and (ESPN hopes) audience -- although I'm not sure it has much of an audience at all -- has been trotted out.

There are relatively few women on the show -- well, it is about a football team, after all -- and those that exist are mostly eye candy or plotline Mcguffinry, like the abused spouse or the girl the commitment-fearing player slept with (or for that matter, the girl he was afraid to commit to). Unfortunately for ESPN, they seem to have missed a cardinal rule. The idea behind making Playmakers, so they say, was to draw more women to the network. Women tend to like, in general, shows with strong female characters -- or at least MORE female characters, and ones who have more than the occasional line or two. And if you're going to make a soaper to draw women, in general, women need to drive some of the action. Which, of course, requires, again, actual lines and bizarre things like, you know, character development. Which, for the most part, the women on Playmakers don't get.

Overall, the show is entertaining. In that sort of "can't look away from a gory traffic accident" kind of way. But man, is it BAD. Whatever people were expecting from ESPN's first dramatic series, I'm pretty sure that this wasn't it.

Posted by iain at 12:18 AM in category quick take reviews , television