Attention CloneClub! The news is in! The ratings are okay, but they need to be a lot better! Next Saturday, make every possible effort to tune in LIVE!
Not that I won’t be hijacking a friend’s TV to support the cause, but can I just say:
This is the problem with the ratings system. Spend five minutes on tumblr; look at the ComicCon panel; take a gander at Twitter trends during the episode: there should be no goddamn doubt that Orphan Black has the support it needs to stay on the air. But the ratings are just okay.
This is not the fault of the show, or of the fans. It’s the fault of a ratings system that isn’t only outdated and not at all representative of actual US TV viewing habits, but that has almost nothing to do with the viewing demographic of a show like Orphan Black.
OB is a smart, forward-thinking, female-centric show that is aimed squarely at young, intelligent, sci-fi/thriller-loving women. Young men follow as a close second in the demographic listings, mostly because of the action, sci-fi themes and occasional T&A. Who watches what and why is the subject for another post, but women and men under 30 are the demographics least likely to sit down at 7pm in front of the flatscreen to watch their favourite show as it airs.
We’re the ones who work crazy hours to pay off our student loans; who live with roommates who have a complicated lottery system to see who gets the TV during primetime; who have classes at 7pm on Saturday or who - shock and horror - might actually be out hitting the bars on Saturday evening because the rest of the week is nuts. We live on the internet, where entertainment is available when it’s convenient for us. We don’t necessarily have families and routines and set dinner-times laid out yet. A good number of us don’t even own TVs, because why spend $150+ per month for a million channels you don’t watch (plus more if you want premium channels) when you can get exactly what you want for $35-odd a month for internet and a couple of subscription fees? Why watch TV shows on cable at the time the network dictates, when you can watch them when it’s convenient for you with a DVR or a Roku?
It’s a mark of a shitty system that a show like Orphan Black risks having its run prematurely curtailed because the only official metric of its success is a ratings system that ignores the people at whom the show is actually targeted. Thankfully, it seems like BBCAmerica is well aware of what a magnificent and unique show it has on its hands, and won’t cancel the show unless the ratings take a real swan dive, and I know the fans won’t let that happen.
But still. If the ratings system were remotely relevant to the viewing habits of Orphan Black’s actual demographic, cancellation because of low ratings wouldn’t even be a possibility.