Oxygen, a network that has always geared its programming towards female viewers, is now going to zero in even more closely on the millennial, multicultural woman with new shows that include a nail art competition, Nail’d It!, that will culminate in a $100,000 prize; Sisterhood of Hip Hop, a reality show revolving around five female hip hop artists in the making; and Living Different, a show that will focus on women living “alternative” lifestyles.
At the network’s upfront, Frances Berwick, president of Bravo and Oxygen Media, said, “African-American and Hispanic and Asian-American and white” women are longing to see themselves better “reflected” on television. This lineup seeks to fulfill that viewer wish.
But more than that, Oxygen is trying to make a statement about its brand. Unlike other reality shows — like those on Vh1 and the shows that are part of the Real Housewives franchise — these shows focus on a more positive outlook on female relationships. So we should expect a lot less shrieking, backstabbing, and finger pointing for a change of pace.
“We all like drama. But we want real drama. Not manufactured drama. We don’t need them to be best friends. We just need them to be women on a journey,” said Rod Aissa, SVP of original programming at Oxygen Media. (For more from Mr. Aissa, you can also read here.)
Manufactured drama still does very well. Shows like The Bachelor and the aforementioned Housewives trend on Twitter and draw lots of eyeballs. But there is a noticeable shift happening on television as well.
Lindsay Lohan’s OWN show won’t be returning for a second go-round after a season in which Lohan tried her best to manage how much reality would show up on screen. (Or simply couldn’t get it together to make the shoot times.) What seemed like it should’ve been a slam dunk — Lindsay + Oprah = gold — was actually a bust in the ratings, and in many other ways.
Ratings for competition shows are down. And scripted shows like Game of Thrones, Scandal and the new TV reboot of the Coen brothers film Fargo, which have the drama turned up to 10, are drawing in viewers. And we haven’t even touched on Netflix shows like House of Cards that have people spending their weekends on the couch to binge watch.
So there’s definitely room for a different take on TV programming. Beyond the desire to do away with the fighting, weddings, terrible group getaways and faux flashy lifestyles, Oxygen’s new shows tap into trends and topics of interest, like street art and women in comedy, that more people are getting into.
[A still from the show Chasing Maria Menounos, via Oxygen]