MTV used to be known for its extensive play of music videos and music related content. Any controversy that they had received in the past was always due to the airing and editing of certain music videos. Today, however, the network is more infamous for its controversial airings of reality TV shows like “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant.”
This week MTV announced that their long-running hit reality TV show “Jersey Shore” is ending after six seasons. The show premiered in 2009 and immediately garnered major controversy and buzz. Despite receiving heavy criticism from the general public, “Jersey Shore” has become one of the most successful reality shows in television history. From an IMC perspective, the producers of “Jersey Shore” have successfully made viewers believe that this reality show truly reflects the personality of the entire state in general. We hear the term “guido” and we immediately think Snooki, The Situation and, New Jersey, yet most of the population of the state might actually take offense to being so marginalized to the “Jersey Shore.” This past week, MTV has started to release promotional spots for the airing of its final season. The commercial opens with images of the deserted boardwalk in Seaside Heights. It then cuts to random people reciting the phrases that were made popular by the cast of the show. The tone of the video starts off rather somber and depressing, but then ends with inspirational music playing over the message, “It may be ending. But it will never be over.” It is obvious that MTV is trying to appeal to their audience’s feelings and to evoke an emotional response.
After viewing this commercial, it is apparent that “Jersey Shore” has made a lasting impact on audiences since its premiere in December 2009. Their popular and unique phrases such as “T-Shirt Time” and “GTL” have become widely used catch phrases among the masses. Although most of the general public can agree overall that “Jersey Shore” is mindless entertainment, it hasn’t stopped people from watching it. The season four premiere brought in a whopping 8.8 million viewers making it the most successful show in network history. And yet, scripted shows are still struggling to bring in and maintain high viewership. “Jersey Shore” has maintained almost five times the amount of viewers as “Teen Wolf” and “Awkward,” the network’s only scripted shows on the air right now. Did I mention that on MTV’s website, of the twenty-seven titles listed on their drop down menu of shows, only two of them are music related?
It’s not hard to deduce that MTV has obviously had more ratings success with reality TV shows than with any other content they’ve aired to date. Instead of being synonymous with music, MTV is now, more recognized for the heedless “reality” TV programming they continue to air. It seems MTV has made the ultimate brand change, and they practically did it without the viewers even realizing it. They have made a complete content change and yet maintained the same brand of “MTV” and this is something to note.
Can MTV get back to its roots of music or is it destined to be a distant memory of fonder times? Only time will tell, but it looks like the “music” part of “music television” will be something we’ll have to explain to future generations when they ask why MTV is called “MTV.”