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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

newsflash from the 20th century: ‘Secret Girlfriend’ moves from Web to TV

No no no. They’re getting it all backward! Comedy Central has just greenlighted a new show based on a Web series, “Secret Girlfriend,” according to Variety. This is going in the wrong direction — it’s as if a buggy-whip manufacturer in 1910, trying to stay relevant, had proudly announced that it would begin selling a new model designed for use with that newfangled horseless carriage.

I guess Comedy Central missed the fact that the first Web-to-TV transition — Quarterlife, which NBC experimented with earlier this year — bombed by TV standards. Its TV numbers were much higher than those of its online audience, and were probably better than could have been expected, but those numbers were still far too low to be considered a success on network TV.
Maybe a Web-to-cable is worth a shot, since cable ratings are never expected to be as high as on a broadcast network. But the Web version of “Secret Girlfriend” doesn’t give one much hope for its success… and frankly, that it has any online success is a bit shocking. This is what it looks like:

I suppose there’s always going to be some kind of market in the assumption that the viewer is a horny adolescent boy — indeed, the majority of Hollywood’s output assume this is the case — but I’ve never seen a more explicit example of that assumption than this. And this assumption is going to carry over to the TV version, says Variety:

Cabler has ordered six episodes of “Girlfriend,” which features the viewer as the “star” of a twentysomething dating satire, with all the actors addressing the camera as if it were the lead.

If Comedy Central expects the show’s only viewers to actually be horny adolescent boys — and, perhaps, lonely lesbians — they’re limiting the show’s appeal.

Worse, though, is how “Secret Girlfriend” feels like the most obscene kind of pandering. Remember how in Fahrenheit 451, Julie Christie, the idiot wife of fireman Murtag, spends her days talking back to the wallscreen TV during shows designed to make her feel like she was part of the action?

And she’d prepare all day for her one line, and get all excited when the moment came up, and she actually felt like the actors were part of her family. She was that big of an empty-headed, empty-souled moron.

That was meant to be satirical.

And now we have TV’s Secret Girlfriend, in which hot chicks will talk out of the big wallscreen TV to the horny-adolescent-boy viewers in an attempt to make them think they’re hot and special and loved and desired, too.

What do you think, Linda?



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  • I don’t know what Linda thinks, but I understand that this trend has been popular in the porn market but is now looking a bit old and overplayed there.

    Another example of web-to-TV that I dare say we’d all rather forget: Sanctuary. (I can’t find anything about its ratings on-line, but I can’t believe it’s doing well.)

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