Part of the phenomenon that has been Fox' musical comedy Glee this past fall has been due to the fact that two not completely separate groups gravitate toward it. First, there are the kids: the tweens and teens and everything in between who identify with, crush on, and perhaps even look up to those McKinley High singers. Then, of course, there are also the "older" group: the one that spans those just out of college demographic all the way through the middle aged, and probably the parents of that first group (you know, the not-so elusive 25-49 demographic). These are the people who are more invested in the "adult" storylines-- what will happen between the teachers, what witty thing Jane Lynch will say next, etc.
In other words, there are those who crush on Finn (Cory Monteith) and those who crush on Will (Matthew Morrison).
And I can't believe I'm going to say this, but for the first time in my life, I fall into that latter, "older" group!
Though networks have long often divided their demos-- conglomerates like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel target those tweens while the "big three" (NBC, CBS, ABC) go for the grown-ups-- these days it appears they are finally starting to think outside of the box and realize the benefits of greenlighting programs that can hit both markets. Maximum eyes on the programming equals more potential for non-niche advertisers! And if Fox made the biggest splash with this experiment, the CW is not far behind!
Life Unexpected (because, let's face it, what else do I write about these days??) will have the so-called younger audience heavily invested in the life of Lux (Britt Robertson), her boyfriend Bug (Rafi Gavron), and their friends. They'll smile knowingly at the secrets Lux keeps with them, look on with envy as she just plops down at a random lunch table in a new school and manages to make a new friend, and experience similar a similar push-pull between the family that they're related to versus the family of friends they have created.
My demographic, however, already had those coming of age moments (and ironically for many of us they existed with cast members Shiri Appleby and Kerr Smith when they starred on Roswell and Dawson's Creek, respectively). Instead, we will tune in every week to watch the so-called adults adjust, cope, and mature suddenly having a teenager in their lives. We will laugh knowingly as Lux pulls one over their eyes, remembering the not-so-long ago time that we did something similar, and we will nod and relate when the romantic relationships are placed under strain, stress, or simple misunderstanding.
In other words, there will be those who crush on Bug and those who crush on Ryan and/or Baze (Smith and Kris Polaha, respectively).
And though CBS' The Good Wife definitely skews, and aims for, the more mature audience, they, too, are seeing ratings boosts due to gradual increase of screen time for Chris Noth and Julianna Margulies' on-screen children, in addition to fan favorite boy wonder Matt Czuchry, who brought younger viewers over from his days on Gilmore Girls. If the show is smart, they will capitalize on that to hold their position as Tuesday night at 10 winner.
Regardless of who is watching whom, though, as a collective audience, we, week after week, see ourselves reflected in these characters. And that is what makes these shows so much more than just products of flash in the pan marketing.