It seems AMC set a true goal for other cable networks you wouldn’t expect could do drama well becoming top destinations to watch must-see dramas. Even if AMC is trying to top itself lately with new dramas that can’t possibly scale the “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” heights, cable networks like HBO recently stepped up to the plate even more than they did in the past. You also have BBC America upping the ante with fantastic can’t-miss dramas like “Orphan Black” and “Into the Flesh”, plus continual top-drawer drama additions throughout this summer.
When it comes to MTV, though, they’re still the last place where we’d expect to see a fictional drama series. They’re at a bit of a crossroads much like AMC was just prior to when “Mad Men” debuted. AMC had been a confused network for a few years as they transitioned from a classic movies channel into a movie channel showing more modern movies. The best they could do with any drama shows in the late 1990s and early 2000s was, ironically, another fairly good retro show about the old radio days (“Remember WENN”).
MTV’s had the same sense of bad direction for quite a while now after the era of the music video on TV came to a sudden stop. While the music video still lives online, MTV has turned into a hodgepodge of different reality shows and comedy series that don’t get talked about in the media as much as other shows do. The last show to get any real buzz on MTV was “Jersey Shore”, which is now reduced to a spinoff show (“Snooki & JWoww”) that gets scant attention.
In the realm of dramas, they’ve tried a number of experiments, all of which led to very short runs. How many remember 1990s dramas on MTV called “Catwalk” or “Dead at 21?” The longest running drama to date there was “Undressed”, a controversial series that dealt explicitly with sexual themes with teens. Aforementioned series had six seasons, though it’s clear MTV has had a gap in getting on board the drama series speed train everyone is jumping on.
That’s now about to change with a series called “Finding Carter” with a plot that’s a bit atypical for MTV. Then again, that’s just what they need, even if the plot has a strong edge to it. In this series, a daughter finds out her mother isn’t who she thinks she is. It turns out her mother was actually her abductor, and a search ensues for the daughter’s real family and why the abduction happened.
Yes, this almost sounds like it could have been intended for AMC, even if we’ve seen enough crime-related tales there. The question is whether this is going to be the breakthrough drama MTV will need to finally be taken seriously as a network taking on more serious themes. For far too long, MTV has been accused of taking on serious issues in comedic and cavalier ways that don’t always go over well with mainstream audiences.
Bringing Family Dramas as a Popular Genre
MTV probably wants to bring the parents back to MTV so they can watch something with their kids and not flinch. Those parents probably left a long time ago back when “Jersey Shore” was a bane to many parents’ existence. “Finding Carter” has a mix of what’s been missing, namely something the kids can relate to while giving the perspective of the parent side, which is a little dark in this case. It’s an intriguing plot, and one that probably has a lot of eerie truth in reality.
With “Finding Carter”, MTV also has a cyber crime thriller called “Eye Candy” on tap soon that has yet to air. It stars Victoria Justice battling terrorist plots of all things. As heavy as it sounds, it also mixes a teen demographic with serious adult themes, something not really tried often, even on AMC.
If it manages to bring the parents and kids together to watch MTV, perhaps the old music video channel will eventually give AMC a run for its money. Because it has teens in it, the Emmys may not take any similar show seriously until MTV can cater to young adults again like they did in the very beginning of their existence.