Sunday 21st January 2018,

Reckless Speculation: Are Women’s Shows Doing Worse This Fall?

Aymar Jean Christian October 26, 2009 uncategorized Comments Off on Reckless Speculation: Are Women’s Shows Doing Worse This Fall?

UPDATE: TVbtN’s Bill Gorman quickly explained why the numbers look this way. Thanks, Bill!


So TVbytheNumbers, the best TV blog on the Internets, has published a chart on the returning fall shows that aren’t doing so well, and the few that are (Fox is up, the rest are flat or down). Below is what he has (original here).

Notice anything? I did. Shows I would consider primarily women’s shows are way down (highlighted, in a playful bit of hyperbole, in pink) and shows aimed at or starring men (in exaggerated blue). Perhaps I’m being too reductive, take a look for yourself:

Show Net 2009-10 STD 18-49 Rating (LIVE+SD) 2008-09 STD 18-49 Rating (LIVE+SD) Change
90210 CW 1.1 1.8 -39%
CSI CBS 3.8 6.2 -39%
One Tree Hill CW 1.1 1.7 -35%
Gossip Girl CW 1.1 1.6 -31%
Desperate Housewives ABC 4.7 6.1 -23%
Ghost Whisperer CBS 2.1 2.6 -19%
Brothers & Sisters ABC 3.1 3.8 -18%
CSI:NY CBS 3.4 4.1 -17%
Numb3rs CBS 1.8 2.1 -15%
Grey’s Anatomy ABC 5.8 6.6 -12%
Supernatural CW 1.2 1.4 -14%
The Office NBC 4.2 4.7 -11%
Criminal Minds CBS 3.9 4.3 -9%
Two And A Half Men CBS 4.7 5.1 -8%
CSI: Miami CBS 4.1 4.4 -7%
New Adventures of Old Christine CBS 2.0 2.1 -5%
Gary Unmarried CBS 2.3 2.3 0%
The Simpsons FOX 4.1 4.0 2%
American Dad FOX 3.5 3.3 6%
Family Guy FOX 4.8 4.5 7%
NCIS CBS 4.6 3.7 24%

Obviously certain shows are, in my mind, pretty gender neutral (CSI, NCIS), though these are just my subjective assumptions.

Why is this happening? The only explanation I can come up with is recessionomics; more men are being hit hard with job losses, and are spending time sitting on their couches. This is an argument I’ve made before, in a similarly reductive but nonetheless entertaining essay.

The picture gets more complicated when you factor in new shows. While The Cleveland Show is a standout hit, other more female-friendly fare like Modern Family and The Good Wife are doing quite well.  And we’re not even talking about cable TV.

Still, it’s a cute little chart, no? Thanks, TVbytheNumbers!

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About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.


  1. Bill G October 26, 2009 at 6:25 am

    Aymar, thanks for the shout out, because the list is limited to scripted shows (vs. reality or sports) it’s inevitable that there are going to be more women favored shows on it.

    Scripted shows tend to be more watched by women (the gender demo ratings back that up, Fox animated shows being the exception).

    Since veteran shows typically tend to decline a bit each year, a list of veteran scripted shows will necessarily show a lot of decliners among shows favored by women.

    In fact almost all the shows in that list above (except Fox animated comedies) are more heavily viewed by women in the 18-49 and 18-34 demos.

    For example, Gary Unmarried’s M18-49 rating last week was a 1.9 its W18-49 rating was a 2.5. Contrary to your guess, chick’s dig it.

  2. Aymar Jean Christian October 26, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Wow, thanks for the tailored analysis! I was obviously aware of the scripted v. reality/sports divide, but hadn’t quite considered how deep that divide really was and how it affects any generalization about TV/culture.

    Oh well, the Internet was made for shoddily constructed theories!