4 Reasons Why ‘The Event’ Has Become a Non-event with Viewers

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2012 at 10:04 am,

the event pilot nbc 4 Reasons Why The Event Has Become a Non event with Viewers

After NBC cancelled Heroes, Fox’s 24 sendoff and ABC’s castaways from Lost finally off the air, NBC felt they were poised to become the next leader in serial dramas with their newest prime time offering, The Event.

NBC tried to get The Event in front of as many eyes as possible, by launching a massive campaign to promote the show which included a large discussion panel as well as an advanced screening of the pilot episode at this year’s Comic Con. Every show on NBC this summer from The Tonight Show to America’s Got Talent felt like it was overrun with ads promoting The Event.

But despite the amount of advertising leading up to The Event’s series premiere, the show only managed to draw a modest 11 million viewers. According to TVByTheNumbers.com, that was enough to place it third for the night behind ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (21.8 million) and CBS’ Two and a Half Men (14.5 million).

Since its premiere, The Event has steadily dropped in viewership week to week – 8.8 Million in Week 2, 7.46 Million in Week 3. So why is a show that put so much money into advertising faltering?

Short answer: The Event isn’t that exciting or interesting.

Here are the four reasons why we think The Event can’t hold onto viewers each week.




The Event Jason Ritter 4 Reasons Why The Event Has Become a Non event with Viewers

1.  The Jumping Time Line – A Confusing Narrative

Writer Nick Wauters was trying to do something different when he incorporated multiple timeline jumps into his storyline, but he ended up confusing people instead. Using a narrative that jumps from present day to minutes, days or even months in the past is OK if the story stays at each jump point for sufficient amounts of time. However, The Event‘s timeline jumps only last a few minutes each and since each character has multiple overlapping timeline jumps, it only helps to increase viewers’ befuddlement.

If you get up to for a drink, answer the phone or use the restroom, there’s a good chance you will be completely lost when you return to the television and will have to rely on the explanations of your friend or spouse to catch up. By the way – those friends and/or spouses are probably just as lost as you are and they were watching the whole time.

the event vice president 4 Reasons Why The Event Has Become a Non event with Viewers

2. The Story – Where is the focus?

The story for The Event can be described in three words – uninspired, convoluted and boring.


Here is a quick recap: Sean Walker’s girlfriend Leila Buchanan has been kidnapped by Vicky Wallace (a hot girl with a dark past) who is working for an unknown group of “terrorists.” Leila is being used as an incentive to make her father, Michael, pilot a passenger jet into President Elias Martinez’s compound. Supposedly they want to assassinate him before he can tell the American people about “the event.” Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Blake Sterling has been keeping a compound at Inostranka, Alaska, secret from the President.  After discovering the compound the President decides to release the prisoners America has been holding there for almost 60 years because *dum-dum-dum* they are aliens.


Usually a major plot twist or shocking reveal like this wouldn’t be revealed until late in the season, or possibly even the final episode, but NBC decided to reveal this major story twist in the SECOND EPISODE! Some NBC executive is probably heaping kudos on themselves right now thinking they did something new and innovative but all they’ve done is give viewers a reason to turn the channel.

By revealing such a huge part of the story so quickly, The Event has essentially taken the intrigue and mystery away from the audience. Leaving a twist like this for the end of the season or even the end of the fall run could have generated a lot more interest in the show as people try to guess who these prisoners are, how they got here and what they are doing here (granted, many of today’s savvy viewers were calling “aliens” from the start, but still…). Instead, viewers can now only speculate on what these people are up to and whether Walker will ever find his girlfriend. These plots points are only mildly interesting and nowhere near as exciting as the info we’ve already been given.

The Event Cast 593x477 570x458 4 Reasons Why The Event Has Become a Non event with Viewers

3. Good Actors – Mediocre Acting – Underdeveloped Characters

Except for Jason Ritter (Sean Walker), every actor on The Event feels like they are getting little to no direction on how to play their characters. Most of the blame falls squarely on Nick Wauters’ shoulders because as the writer, he has given none of the characters any depth or background.  Every person on the show feels like a cookie cutout of a character from another show – just not as good.

There’s ethically unwavering minority President, the mysterious female leader to a group of alien visitors, the innocent guy thrown helplessly into a bad situation, a second-in-command with questionable methods/motives, and a mole (or moles) buried deep within the U.S. government.  Sound familiar? It should because every one of those characters can be found in 24, Lost, Heores or V.

Because no less than six different characters share the focus of each episode, viewers aren’t given time to get properly acquainted with each of them. If an audience isn’t allowed to quickly develop an attachment to any characters in a show, the show will always fail.

the event cast new Image 570x256 4 Reasons Why The Event Has Become a Non event with Viewers

4. Victim of the Hype

When a network entices viewers with countless ads or builds up expectations with mysterious and puzzling phrases like “What is The Event?” or “This is not The Event,” that network had better deliver a better than excellent product. In this case, NBC billed The Event to be the second coming of serial mystery/dramas, only to leave viewers of the pilot scratching their heads thinking, “Um, was that ‘the event’ we kept hearing about? I’m confused.”

NBC would have been better off with a modest advertising scheme that let viewers build their own wonder and excitement regarding The Event because ultimately The Event suffered from not living up to its own hype.


NBC only has 8 episodes of The Event finished and none ordered yet for the spring line up. If ratings continue to decline at the rate of roughly 18% per week there could be less than 3 million people watching the show by episode 8. If that happens, the only thing fans of The Event will see on NBC Monday nights at 9 pm is a different show.

NOTE: We contacted NBC to find out their thoughts on the trending decline of The Event’s ratings and if an entire first season would be ordered but they did not respond.

Follow us on Twitter @Walwus and @ScreenRant

Source: TV By The Numbers

TAGS: The event
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  1. I’m just catching up on The Event now. I love it, you have to pay attention, oh no. Record it, watch it, pause it when you have to go to the bathroom. there are still twists going on, you kind of have to know they are aliens in the second episode or nothing will make sense. Maybe this show was just too smart.

  2. I really loved the event I hope it comes back I really do

  3. There are several factors at work here – of course I don’t know anything more than the next person so take this with a grain of salt.

    To understand The Event one needs a certain amount of sophistication. It presumes you are able to think, to abstract. One episode builds on the next;the characters are anything but two dimensional. Sophia and Isabel (for example) are equally ruthless. One is ruthless in pursuit of her oath not to harm the people of Earth while the other is in pursuit of personal gain. (Sound familiar?)

    When I say that one needs to be able to abstract – I think the Event challenges us to think about the world we live in: CCTV’s can track our every move, as do our cell phones, credit cards (heck – any card with a magnetic strip including Library and EBT cards). The Patriot Act has given authorities unfettered discretion to restrict our liberty without requiring a neutral arbiter like a judge.

    The notion of an alien presence challenges the dogma of a god controlled existence. (Is the concept of ET’s any sillier than the idea of angels, Satan and god with a long white beard sitting on a throne in the sky?) I discovered this show on Netflix and was so pleased that half way through I still didn’t know who was a devout Christian – as if that is a requirement to be ethical or moral. Not one mention of prayer, the bible, Jesus, etc. Nice change from the usual garbage we are force fed.

    Are we living in a new dark age? Life is no longer about aspiring to learn more, to be better at science, to encourage diversity, to welcome challenges to our beliefs – but rather to gravitate toward the lowest common denominator. If you want an intellectual show about science fiction (as opposed to catechism) perhaps such content will eventually thrive via streaming. At present it seems the clowns are running the circus – meaning the Networks are more concerned about selling a better laxative while dumbing down an already intellectually challenged audience. (How long can thinking people be entertained by reality TV? How many episodes of Cops can one watch before slipping into a coma?)

  4. @Courthill and JediWoman, I agree, this is a great show and to see it die would truly show how the majority of the masses can not think. They are intellectually challenged, hell whats next to happen to our world? Idiocracy? very sad, i do not see myself higher than anyone else, but if a 15year old can follow this with ease and thoroughly enjoy this more than a mass population of 7year old’s?

    The very dialog actually means something, but i guess not everyone is an intellectual, maybe the masses have double digit IQ’s?

    I will continue to watch this as I am also new to this series and i will hope that it gets continued, it truly has a lot of potential and profit.

    -Levithian Jenkins

    • As someone who labels themselves as being intellectual, it would’ve helped if you did some research into when this pitiful excuse for a sci fi show was cancelled. The Event will not be making a return, and thank goodness for that, it was hardly an intellectual show.

  5. I just finished watching the entire first season of The Event. It’s a fairly interesting story and drama, but it’s mediocre science fiction at best. To say it was intellectually challenging is more of a sad commentary on the kind of viewer that believes it to be so. It’s probably more accurate to say it’s emotionally challenging if you identified with any of the characters. That’s generally true of any well-thought-out and directed show. If you watch WWE and are entertained by it, you’d probably like this series as well.

    I could care less if this show ever gets renewed. I’ll probably watch it anyway if they do though. There’s just not enough plausible, realistic, and relevant science fiction today.

    As far as NBC is concerned, are they really still in business? I stopped watching all the major TV networks over a decade ago. They are dinosaurs. Unfortunately their deep pockets and political savvy keep them alive and well – even after they repeatedly jab us in the eye with untimely and unexplainable cancellations. Don’t they realize the internet has destroyed their current archaic rating system? Of course they do. That’s not why they keep using it. Maybe it’s time for a new series that will reveal to us their nefarious plan to brain-wipe their audiences into believing a show is entertaining simply because they thought it up. After all, they’re in it to entertain us and not to make ridiculous amounts of profit, right?

  6. I thought the show was great. It was better than the other crap on TV & cable like housewives of whatever or swamp people, mob wives and the other stupid shows that teach our kids how to be stupid and teaches adults that anything goes.

  7. I love it so much. I believe it is difficult to follow; but, I am watching it in netflix so it is easier. The have to improve the structure of the screenplay and keep doing more episodies.

  8. I actually wanted to throw things while reading this article and some of the comments.

    Sorry but if you find it /confusing/ then you are just mentally incompetent or something, because if someone who was 13 when the show was on had no trouble understanding any of what happened, the show could not have been that challenging to follow. The ‘timeline jumps’ are what made the series as good as it was. Obviously this article was written before the end of the series, but each plot line connects in the end (not really the end but technically now it is). The fact that you had to put it together how everything was connected made the show intriguing and if the confused people you are referencing are seemingly less intelligent than a then-13 year old, that says a lot.

    ‘UNINSPIRED, CONVOLUTED, AND BORING’?! . The Event is the least boring show NBC has. It’s all a bunch of reality s*** and failed comedy. It is also not uninspired-everything is inspired. Ideas come from inspiration, and some GENIUSES had the idea to write and produce this show. They were inspired by something.

    And okay. This is what pissed me off the most: what you said about the characters. The characters have loads of depth. I personally became attached to every single character even the ones I hated because I felt like I understood their motives. So are you f****** kidding me. No background? THEIR BACKGROUNDS ARE PROBABLY THE MOST SHOWN PART. We see as much of their backgrounds as present time! Like the episode where Simon Lee sees the love of his life all old, and dying. I cried a lot. So the show doesn’t lack emotion or depth with the characters.

    Lastly, if it wasn’t for the hype I wouldn’t have watched the show to be honest. I wouldn’t have known about it. From the first five minutes I was hooked. And now I can’t imagine my life without having experienced The Event. Albeit, there would be less heartache due to the cancellation. Honestly you cannot bring a f****** planet to Earth and say ‘they’re here’ and then just boom it’s done. That doesn’t work. I actually refused to watch NBC until the current summer Olympics began because I was so angry with them. And worst of all, they gave us *hope* that the series may be picked up on a different channel or a miniseries might be made. Ha, yeah right.

    So there’s my little rant basically letting out all my pent up feelings on The Event in a calmer manner than it deserves.

    And to put it bluntly, this is a stupid and irrelevant article.

    A girl who just wants her favourite show back.

    • @Chloe – First, slow your roll. I’m going in and taking out everything that I deem as a personal attack.
      Second – This show has been off the air for almost a year and this article is over a year old lol. I’m thinking you may want to stop holding yoru breath for it’s return. Obvisouly more people agreed with me than they did with you.


      Paul Young – Moderator

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