Far from avoiding controversy in hopes of appealing to the widest possible audience, many TV programs are now tackling complex social issues that were once considered commercially risky on the small screen.
Using E-Score Programs we looked at some of the shows most known for tackling social issues such as racism, sexual identity, gender inequality, etc. to see what it is that audiences find appealing about them, and how they compare to the wider set of all broadcast, cable and streaming programs.
With a detailed look at the group of programs that are known for addressing social issues, we discovered that these shows stand out as being significantly more Engaging and Emotionally Involving. Below is a list of the top ten Engaging shows.
- The multiple Emmy award-winning hit series, This Is Us, returns to Television this month. The series is well known for tackling issues like alcoholism, racism, mental health, and obesity which have engaged audiences to make it one of the most successful shows on television. It has the highest combined score of Engaged and Emotionally Involving among all the shows on our list.
- Watchmen tops our list of most Engaging shows that take on deeper issues. The HBO series has successfully taken the comic book genre and expanded it to cover subjects that are important to today’s audiences like criminal justice and racism.
- Streaming giant, Netflix, tops all other networks and streaming services with the most shows on our list (6) giving evidence that the streaming service’s fearlessness in tackling deep issues has led to successful programming.
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Other Key Attributes
In addition to higher levels of engagement, programs that take on these more complex issues are also regarded by viewers as higher quality and more important. This also leads to greater word of mouth. Here’s how audiences rated these shows for the attributes Relevant to Me, Influential, Rated Excellent and Talked About Show. Again, for the full list, please visit our blog.
- Issa Rae’s Insecure is tops for Relevant to Me among shows that touch on deeper issues. HBO’s critically acclaimed show about gender inequality and racism has landed it multiple Emmy awards serving as a prime example of a show not afraid to tackle issues faced by minorities.
- Queer Eye is Netflix’s reboot of the Bravo series with the same name and it tops our Influential list with 42, well above the program average of 17. The streaming hit touches on a variety of social issues that have driven its success and has landed it the second highest Talked About Show score (46) right behind both Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale (47).
- Netflix has a record for successful mini-series and When They See Us adds another hit to their list. The 4-episide crime drama dives into the story of the Central Park Five and tackles criminal justice and racism. The show ranks highest in our list for Rated Excellent.
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Consumer Comments – What Audiences Have To Say
While digging into a show’s attributes can reveal a lot about viewer sentiments, nothing compares to hearing exactly what they have to say. E-Score Programs provides answers directly from audiences about what they think of the shows they watch. Below are examples of actual Consumer Comments about some of the most successful programs. One theme that comes through is the appeal of innovative or edgy material.
Q: What do you like about this program? (current viewers)
This Is Us
- “Very original, sharply and creatively written, the black characters are not background but given equal access to shine”
- “I like that it delves into relevant issues such as race, class, addiction and relationships”
The Handmaid’s Tale
- “I like how edgy and provocative it is. I like how it shows religious extremism”
- “Its timeliness…its suspense…its implicit social commentary”
When They See Us
- “It’s powerful and impactful. It’s a very important series for people to see in current times”
- “It exposes the truth about racism and social injustice”
The Umbrella Academy
- “It’s complex and surprising. It has moments of pure fun superhero fiction and other moments of really hard truths “
- “It really gets you thinking about the world in the direction we are currently going. It invokes strong emotions”
In our highly polarized political climate, television programs are increasingly taking on issues of the day. E-Score Programs provides advertisers and networks with the tools for understanding the impact a program is having on its viewers.