Redneck reality shows: Who wants to watch a reality show about an obnoxious seven-year old and her morbidly obese hillbilly family? Everyone! Whether it’s because watching Honey Boo Boo, Sugar Bear and the absolutely loathsome Mama June makes us feel superior or whether (God help you) it’s because you identify with them, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was the most noteworthy in a slew of redneck reality shows, ranging from Hillbilly Handfishin’ to Swamp People to Duck Dynasty to…look, do you really want me to list them all? With a quartet of Honey Boo Boo specials coming up in the new year and the who-saw-that-coming ratings of Duck Dynasty (now officially A&E’s No. 1 show), this trend shows no signs of letting up anytime soon.
Speedy storytelling: Remember how shows like Lost and The X-Files used to string us along on their conspiracy-littered trails, doling out teensy tidbits of information as we followed along hoping for any little scrap of info? These days, that won’t fly. Viewers have run out of patience, as evidenced by the myriad Lost wannabes littering the TV graveyard. Showrunners of mystery-based serialized dramas don’t want their shows to be next, so series such as Revolution, American Horror Story, Revenge, Homeland, The Walking Dead and Scandal have been speeding things up by cramming as much story as possible into each episode.
All the single ladies…From New Girl to Mindy to the 2 Broke Girls, the fall schedule was stuffed to the gills with shows about single young women. This also holds true in crime dramas (Lucy Liu’s Watson), cancelled medical shows (Emily Owens, M.D.), sitcoms (Ben and Kate) and cancelled lawyer shows (Made in Jersey). There are even more coming our way, with such midseason shows as the Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries, How to Live With Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life), The Goodwin Games and Mistresses all featuring single female protagonists.
Reboots: Although there have been plenty of failures (ahem, Charlie’s Angels), the few that succeed (Dallas, Hawaii Five-0, 90210) give TV execs hope that they too can resurrect a classic show and transform it into a modern-day hit. Along with the aforementioned SatC prequel, midseason brings us TV reboots of Silence of the Lambs (NBC’s Hannibal) and Psycho (A&E’s Bates Motel), and casting is already under way to find the next Wonder Woman.
Miniseries: Once upon a time, mighty dinosaurs roamed the plains and record numbers of TV viewers tuned in to watch “event” miniseries such as Roots and The Thornbirds. At some point in the late 1990s, TV networks declared the miniseries dead, and these close-ended stories became the exclusive provenance of cable. Bad move, networks. The massive success of this year’s Hatfields & McCoys on the History channel has paved the way for a whack of upcoming miniseries greenlit and heading into production.
Star power: TV has become a place where movie stars who haven’t seen a hit in awhile can hopefully revive their careers — hey, it worked for Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen. It’s also a safe haven for TV stars who tried — and failed — to make the leap to big-screen stardom. As a result, this season has brought us Dennis Quaid on Vegas, Matthew Perry on Go On, Ellen Barkin on The New Normal and Lily Tomlin on Nashville Country. Coming next: Kevin Bacon stars as a serial-hunting FBI agent in The Following, premiering in January.