Seeing as Jersey Shore has pretty much conquered America’s brain, you’d think everything would be peachy over at MTV, right? Wrong! The L.A. Times today breaks down the ratings slump at the network, whose ad revenue has declined by 20 percent since 2006. But bad news for Viacom execs could be good news for everyone else, as the viewership dip is now goading MTV into gambling with oddball scripted television. That’s right: In order to survive, MTV is going to get a little crazy.
Most notably on the upcoming slate is The Hard Times of R.J. Berger, a teen comedy about a high-school nerd whose life changes when everyone finds out he has a big penis. No, seriously. (For the record, co-creator Seth Grahame-Smith says “it's not a show about his penis. Episodes 2 and 3 have nothing to do with his penis.”) That’ll premiere this summer along with Greg the Bunny spinoff Warren the Ape, whose title character is a boozing semi-celebrity. Also in the works is the Skins remake, plus a show about an accidental teen drug dealer.
So, who’s excited for scripted programming from MTV?! Once upon a time, of course, MTV was the go-to source for awesome off-kilter scripted fare, but that was way before reality TV blew up. Plus, the network’s greatest successes in the field (creatively speaking) have almost all been in animation (Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria) or sketch comedy (Human Giant, The State, The Ben Stiller Show). Has a live-action, plot-driven show ever really taken off on MTV? They’ve certainly attempted this in the past. Remember Spyder Games or Undressed? (We apparently do, for some reason.) But if it means more shows about teenagers with large wangs, we’re all for MTV trying.