Across the Mormon blogosphere (I’m a friendly Jewish lurker), this announcement made the rounds yesterday:
The concept is interesting, and I wish them luck, but it got me thinking: this group obviously has a following, given the number of YouTube views they’ve had, as well as the tight network of Mormons cheering on this latest venture from their days with “Studio C” affiliated with Brigham Young University. So why is it that this group of individuals, committed to family-friendly comedy, felt the need to start a Patreon page and crowd-fund their latest venture? Why weren’t they plucked out of digital obscurity by a studio willing to put them on television?
This is another sad commentary on the state of entertainment and the top-down nature of Hollywood: we are told what to watch, what we should be watching. Popular shows and movies that Americans actually watch don’t win awards, while the shows and movies that do are hardly familiar to most. Award shows used to at least be entertaining; now we’re just subjected to rants from celebrities about politics, especially since the election of President Donald Trump. Very little about the entertainment industry is entertaining anymore.
Americans aren’t going to the movies anymore, and we’re watching less cable programming than ever. Experts cite the ready availability of tens of thousands of possible shows available for streaming on services like Netflix, but few executives seem to consider the possibility that the exodus towards YouTube and Netflix is due to their programming decisions. Netflix is one of the only studios trying to produce family-friendly television (Fuller House and Llama Llama are favorites here); it’s no mystery why they’re doing well: they create content people want to watch, and they don’t take viewers for granted.
I’m curious to see where this new digital-only venture will go; will JK! Studios actually grow an audience outside the Mormon world and amass enough viewers to stay afloat. The market is certainly there, and maybe one day executives will take remember what they once knew: that families want to watch television together.