Strike two for MTV’s renewed focus on scripted television. The Hard Times of RJ Berger, from Seth Grahame-Smith, is the second casualty for the network this year – following the dismissal of the controversy-courting Skins in June.
The Hard Times of RJ Berger, a teen comedy about a well-endowed high-school nerd, opened its second season to respectable ratings of 3.1 million viewers, giving MTV reason to think they had a solid performer on their hands. As the season progressed, however, Berger‘s ratings began to soften. The decrease was so significant that by the time the finale aired, less than a million viewers tuned in.
The loss of audience seemed to be the norm for the show. Despite strong premieres for seasons 1 and 2, The Hard Times of RJ Berger never finished with the same verve. In comparison, despite the controversy (or because of it), Skins regularly outperformed the show. And while Skins’ ratings might have led to another season, the complaints from the Parent’s Television Council and the loss of advertisers gave MTV little choice but to cancel the racy British remake.
Even though two of MTV’s scripted shows are now down, that doesn’t mean the network is giving up. MTV was once ruled almost entirely by reality programming like Jersey Shore and The Real World (and with a record 8.8 million people tuning in for season 4 of Shore, it’s no wonder), but even network executives know that those kinds of programs won’t stay fresh forever.
Former programming chief Tony DiSanto discussed MTV’s interest in producing more scripted shows by saying, “Getting into scripted shows is an important piece of the puzzle. The key to MTV’s success is not getting too homogenized and moving too much in one direction.”
Currently, MTV is enjoying success with its reimagining of Teen Wolf and the other high school comedy Awkward. Teen Wolf has already scored a second season order and the network is believed to be readying the same for Awkward.
That’s not all, though; MTV has plenty more original scripted series planned for launch this year and 2012.
First up is Death Valley, a horror/comedy following the LAPD’s Undead Task Force (UTF for short), which deals with all sorts of supernatural elements like vampires, werewolves and, of course, zombies. The series will premiere later this month on August 29.
October sees the launch of the animated series Good Vibes and the return of MTV favorite Beavis and Butt-Head.
Next year MTV will be adding another British remake with The Inbetweeners and the dramedy I Just Want My Pants Back – which will have a sneak-peek after the MTV Video Music Awards on August 28.