I get some grief for berating Damages’ ratings in season two. I don’t really care because a.) the ratings sucked, b.) the ratings sucked and c.) the ratings sucked. Spending much of the season under one million average viewers for first airings of new episodes, the 90 minute season two finale last April just barely scraped above one million (1.048 million) viewers.
By contrast, the season two finale of Sons of Anarchy on December 1st did more than 300% better with a series high 4.328 million viewers.
For all my berating, I actually was one of the few (and more ashamed than proud) people still watching Damages. I watched all of season two. I’m not going to lie — I didn’t like it nearly as much as season one (which I thought was at least a little bit overrated) and not nearly as much as Sons of Anarchy. Sure, it won’t surprise me at all if Glenn Close gets another Emmy nod for her portrayal as Patty Hewes while Katey Sagal gets ignored for her impressive turn as matriarch in Sons of Anarchy. SOA is bikers in some podunk make believe California town, while Damages is lawyers, greed and high finance set in New York City.
The New York media love, love, love slobbering over anything to do with New York. Let’s face it, there is east coast bias and probably always will be, so it’s quite possible that New York Magazine, The New York Times and the New Yorker will write 10x more about Damages than Sons of Anarchy even though four times as many people actually watch the latter. Though SOA probably plays as well in New York as Bakersfield and Fresno, I don’t expect any change in terms of media showing more love to Close than Sagal.
But here’s something that might surprise you: I’m predicting that Damages’ ratings go up this year. I don’t think it will be any SOA ratings wise, but I could see it doubling its season two numbers. For a few reasons. One, the gap between season one and season two was fairly long due to the writer’s strike. A problem season three will not face. Secondly, I think the writers know that last season didn’t sit well with fans and that they will try to recapture some of the magic of season one. Expect more “flash forwards” than you saw in season two. Thirdly, as a guy on the tail end of the baby boom, I’m not sure I can resist checking out Martin Short and Lily Tomlin who have been cast in season three of Damages.
I’m not sure what that will mean for 18-49 viewing — probably not much. But with adults 25-54, and 55+, I can see total viewing increases. I’ll give it at least a few episodes…