It seems that the television viewing habits of Republicans and Democrats differ, according to a study by Experian Simmons. Republicans prefer more family-oriented fare and sitcoms, while Democrats like edgier dramas.
Among the favorite Republican TV shows are “Modern Family,” about a blended family that includes adopted kids and a gay couple, and sitcoms such as “Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men” and “How I Met Your Mother,” as well as reality shows such as “American Idol” and “Dancing With The Stars.” Democrats like edgy dramas such as “Dexter,” “Mad Men” and “Damages.”
Not surprisingly, the top-rated show for Republicans was “The Glenn Beck Show” on Fox and the top-rated show for Democrats was “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this writer seems to be out-of-step with his political demographic. He likes “Dexter” and “Mad Men,” and finds them interesting and complex dramas that wrestle with moral choices.
Reasons for this divergence in TV viewing habits could be interpreted any number of ways. One might suggest that Republicans prefer mindless, but feel-good fluff, while Democrats prefer complex drama. On the other hand, perhaps Republicans just want to be entertained after a hard day at the office while Democrats get off watching shows about damaged people such as Dexter Morgan or Don Draper.
A broader interpretation of the findings suggests that a way for ratings success might be to cater more toward conservative tastes than liberal. One reason that there is a dearth of dramas on the Republican list of favorite shows might be that there is a dearth of dramas that cater to the conservative point of view. “Law and Order: SVU” regularly has liberal themes and messages. “Mad Men” has been considered by some to be an indictment of capitalism and of the American dream. “Dexter” depicts a serial killer as a vigilante hero.
What kinds of drama would cater to conservative tastes is unclear. “V,” which is on the Republican list, is a science fiction drama about an alien invasion of Earth that some have suggested is an allegory for the Obama administration. “NCIS” is a law enforcement procedural drama that is considered military-friendly. On the other hand, “Lie to Me” has occasionally taken liberal points of view. So, it seems, that politics is not the sole determining factor for what Republicans watch or don’t watch.
Perhaps the secret to catering to conservative tastes can be seen on the Fox News Network, where a variety of points of view are given credence, including conservative. Perhaps TV dramas in which conservative characters and themes are treated with respect would appeal to the right side of the TV audience.
There is one example of that not mentioned in the story about the study. “Burn Notice” is the story of a spy who has been forcibly “burned,” or retired, and is forced to use his skills to help others in Miami while trying to find out who burned him. Michael Weston, the burned spy, is depicted as a patriot who wants to serve his country to save lives and stop evil doers, but is stymied by shadowy forces within the government. “Burn Notice” is a highly rated show now in its fourth season. TV show developers could do worse than develop dramas with characters like Michael Weston.
Source: Republicans Love ‘Modern Family,’ Democrats Favor ‘Dexter,’ New Study Shows, Chris Harnick, TV Squad, November 10th, 2010