‘Moonlight’ Fans: As Jilted as Les Moonves’ Ex-Wife Without the Alimony?

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June 22nd, 2008

I've already written a few times that I personally do not believe that CBS made an awful decision to cancel Moonlight. Out of all of CBS' shows, Moonlight had the worst 18-49 demographic performance of any show  other than re-airings of Showtime's Dexter.   I was always on the fence with Moonlight.  I would not have faulted CBS for keeping it - though its 18-49 numbers weren't great compared to all other CBS shows, Moonlight aired at 9pm on Friday nights and it did fairly well in consideration of that. Friday is increasingly a vast wasteland for broadcast network television. 

But, since it didn't do as well as Ghost Whisperer which aired on Friday night's at 8pm before Moonlight, or as well as Numb3rs which aired at 10pm on Fridays after it, and since it was its worst 18-49 demographic rated show, I can't fault CBS for cancelling it either.  The biggest problem for Moonlight is it was a "genre" show. 

I  am a fan of many genre style shows, particularly science fiction, but I understand that such shows typically struggle mightily to reach a more mainstream audience.  LOST and Heroes are rare exception and unlike Moonlight, despite not being what they used to be from a Nielsen ratings perspective, both LOST and Heroes are unquestionably 18-49 demographic superstars in this era. Moonlight certainly was not. 

Instead, CBS decided to go with the new The Ex-List, a show about a single woman looking for love, and failing miserably.  Personally I can relate to this much more than a show about vampires, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.  I have no idea whether the show will be any good or suck badly, but it's certainly conceivable to me that the premise can reach a wider audience.

A month ago I wrote a post with a short poll on whether The Ex-List will do better in the Nielsen ratings than Moonlight.  Both the poll responses and the comments were heavily skewed by the jilted Moonlight faithful.  Out of 2,490 poll votes so far, 2,327 predict The Ex-List will do worse in the ratings than Moonlight.  The comments, all 306 of them so far are similarly skewed.  The most recent comment from "Isabel" reads:

Ex-list looks like exactly the kind of show a network dumb enough to cancel Moonlight would promote.  Instead of a romantic thriller with a smart, sexy female lead who had incredible chemistry with a really talented male lead actor, we get a sad, whiny female lead who is nothing without a man (and a man who apparently wasn't good enough for her the first time around!!)  And to think that a woman exec at CBS thought this was a good idea???!!!

While it's true Nina Tassler is the president of CBS entertainment,  I get the idea that her boss Les Moonves certainly did participate in the programming decisions.  Again, I personally think that the premise of the Ex-List has the potential for reaching more people than Moonlight and all things considered I do not think it was unreasonable for Tassler, Moonves or CBS in general to try something else.

Isabel's comment was not as angst-ridden as many of the comments, which have the flavor of a woman jilted by her husband in favor of a younger woman.  Which is at least a little bit ironic as Les Moonves'  is rumored to have dumped his wife of 24 years for a women who is 21 years his junior -- Julie Chen, who also hosts CBS' reality show, Big Brother.  I would jokingly chalk that up to Moonves simply wanting to keep in good touch with the female 18-49 demographic as he nears the average age of a 60 Minutes viewer (which is 61!  Moonves will turn 60 later this year).

I don't get the gist that Moonves' own ex, Donna is as upset about Les leaving her for Julie as the Moonlight faithful are that the show got cancelled, but Donna's getting something the jilted Moonlight fans are not: a fat alimony check.

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