News and Analysis

‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’: Why Old Shows Like ‘Seinfeld’ Are Crushing New, Expensive Shows

More than 57 billion minutes were spent last year watching “Suits.”
SEINFELD -- "The Tape" Episode 8 -- Pictured: (l-r) Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander as George Costanza (Photo by Spike Nannarello/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
Spike Nannarello/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal

The stats are in, and classic TV shows like “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” and “Suits,” crushed the new, more expensive shows in 2023 that were driven by Hollywood’s desire to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) rather than storytelling.

Audiences love a good story. Thus, success in movies and television has always been the result of great storytellers writing great stories — regardless of whether the writers were male or female, white or black or any other minority. But according to The Free Press, those times appear to be changing.

SEINFELD -- "The Frogger" Episode 18 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld (Photo by Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Streaming Platforms

Streaming companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Disney+ have been shelling out millions of dollars to create shows that will please the DEI gods, but those are losing out to old shows, also known as acquired shows, Front Page magazine noted.

According to Nielsen’s Streaming Viewership from 2023, which tracks what people listen to and watch, more than 57 billion minutes were spent last year watching “Suits,” a legal drama that premiered in 2011. That was more than any other show last year.

SUITS -- "Whale Hunt" Episode 812 -- Pictured: Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Ian Watson/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

In fact, of the top 10 streamed shows of 2023, more than a handful are all shows that were made more than a decade ago.

Shows like “Gilmore Girls,” and “Friends,” which have been off the air for years, were watched in 2023 billions of minutes more than the new ones like “Ted Lasso” or “Ginny and Georgia.”

FRIENDS -- "The One With The Rumor"-- Episode 9 -- Aired 11/22/2001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Brad Pitt as Will Colbert, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller -- Photo by : Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

Netflix spent $168 million on shows like “Bridgerton” for the first three seasons and lost to shows like “Suits” which it paid a reported estimate of $200,000 per episode, Deadline noted.

In addition, Disney spent $25 million an episode for its woke “Star Wars” series “Ahsoka” in 2023 but ended up losing in the ratings war to shows like “Suits” with a budget of $3 million, Front Page magazine noted.

TV Shows By The Minutes

In an article titled, “How Comfort Shows Conquered Streaming TV,” the Hollywood Reporter noted that the top 10 overall titles in Nielsen’s year-end rankings for 2023 are all acquired shows.” It’s also reported that it’s “the first time that’s happened in the four years streaming rankings have been publicly available.”

Acquired shows had a massive showing in 2023, with the top 10 accounting for 339.5 billion minutes of viewing, that’s up almost 41% from 2022 when 241.4 billion minutes were viewed, THR noted.

“We definitely had a lesser number of originals [in 2023],” Brian Fuhrer, Nielsen’s senior vp product strategy and thought leadership, told the outlet. “As a result, the introduction of huge new blockbuster originals that we’re used to, that really wasn’t the case this year.”

Speaking of originals, looks like the ‘show about nothing’ still has what it takes. According to Parrot Analytics, “”Seinfeld” has 32.9 times the audience demand of the average TV show in the United States … This exceptional level of demand puts “Seinfeld” in the top 0.2% of all TV shows.”

SEINFELD -- "The Frogger" Episode 18 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jason Alexander as George Costanza,áJerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld (Photo by Joey Delvalle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Joey Delvalle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

How We Got There

Following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter riots in 2020, which destroyed towns and divided the country, the pressure was on to make changes in our society. Those included the characters we saw on the small screen and those working behind the scenes, the outlet noted.

In response, there’s been a huge drive for “inclusivity” in Hollywood, regardless of whether those hired are the best to get the job done, something that seems to be happening in every aspect of our society.

And the problem isn’t just woke issues woven into a story for the sake of DEI. Hollywood has always been eager to tackle those kinds of things. Take the example of the 1967 classic movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” with Sidney Poitier and Katherine Hepburn, which tackled interracial marriage or on the small screen with shows like “All in the Family” (1971-1979) which dealt with race issues head-on.

The DEI push, on the other hand, seeks to influence every aspect of show business, but audiences are making it clear, they are only interested in great stories, regardless of how old.

Writers’ Room

In an effort to be seen as “inclusive,” legendary networks made massive changes to who was telling the stories and writing the shows. At CBS, the company mandated that writers’ rooms have at least 40% minority representation for the 2021-2022 broadcast season with 25% of its script development budget to fund projects from creators, writers and producers who meet their diversity qualifications, the Free Press noted.

ABC Entertainment issued a detailed series of “inclusion standards,” the outlet noted. ABC also committed to making sure 50% of its showrunners, writers, producers, crew, performers check a BIPOC representation box by the 2022-23 season, THR noted.

“I’m all for LGBT and Native Americans, blacks, females, whatever minorities that have not been served correctly in the making of content, whether it’s television or movies or whatever, but I think it’s gone too far,” Howard Koch, who has been involved in the production of more than 60 movies and is the former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, said, the Free Press noted.

“I know a lot of very talented people that can’t get work because they’re not black, Native American, female or LGBTQ,” he added.

The Writers Guild of America West Inclusion and Equity Report of 2022, found that in 2011 64% of staff writers had been men, but by 2020, only a third were. It also found in 2011 71% of staff writers were white, but by 2020 less than half were.

Diving into the report further, the number of “white producers by 2020 fell by 24%, the number of male producers by 25%…white executive story editors fell by 26% and male executive editors by 27%,” according to the report.

A chart in the report showed that, ”between 2011 and 2020, staff writers moved from 35% to 63% women, and 72% to 44% white.”

Acting Roles

Findings in the UCLA Hollywood Diversity 2022 Television report were similar with the “White share” of top broadcast scripted roles, top cable scripted roles and in the digital scripted arena decline in 2020-21 compared to those same areas in 2019-20.

While “Black (18.6%) and multiracial (14%) persons were actually overrepresented” across the board,” the report noted.

The report showed women made huge gains during the same time frame, with “women’s share of top digital scripted roles increased and actually surpassed that of their male counterparts.” In the report, women now accounted for 50.3% of these roles in 2020-21, compared to only 49% for males.

In 2020, the Emmy awards announced changes to its nomination process which it said were intended to “align the nominations selection process across all awards categories and to allow for more inclusiveness in the recognition of excellence,” USA Today noted.

As The Daily Wire noted previously, this DEI push in Hollywood means network, executives, and studios no longer care about making sure to pick the scripts, actors and directors and best people for a show. It’s now all about representation.

All the changes, however, have not translated into success for entertainment companies. So, the question remains: will Hollywood change course now that audiences have spoken?

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’: Why Old Shows Like ‘Seinfeld’ Are Crushing New, Expensive Shows