Why Make A Show That Makes People A Little Uncomfortable

The MIPCOM conference is currently under way in France and it attracts people from all over the world looking to buy and sell TV shows. Naturally, the large US networks are represented and indeed undertake keynote addresses to help sell their wares and to hint at where the networks themselves are going.

Cartoon Network plays a part and Turner Animation president and COO Stuart Snyder had this to say about the stuff that the network looks for:

As for how to stay ahead of kids’ interests and keep them tuned to his cabler, the Cartoon Network, Snyder said it’s all about finding unique voices, from wherever. “We look at projects and pitches that make us a little uncomfortable,’ he explained. “If one does, we think we’ve got something.”

Now I will admit that finding ‘unique voices’ is absolutely what a network should be looking for, and fair play to Snyder for bucking the trend and blazing a trail for themselves with the likes of Adventure Time and Regular Show. But to find them from “wherever”? Surely they should be looking in defined places, no?

Simply picking content from random places doesn’t seem like a particularly sustainable method of discovery. Annoying Orange is a prime example of this approach and it is, sadly, destined to be a fad; a show very much of its time. Comparatively, Adventure Time was a short in the finest Fred “throw a bunch to the wall and see what sticks” Seibert tradition and it’s done massively well and looks set to become a true classic.

At the same time, there’s a distinct lack of explanation as to what constitutes “uncomfortable”. Does it mean hard to watch, makes the viewer feel down/dejected or is it that they won’t admit to liking it. Or is it the fact that Synder and his team is uncomfortable about the need to move away from the ‘safety zone’ that all corporations love because it brings them reliable revenue?

My hunch says the last one. Only by taking risks can Cartoon Network hope to stay ahead of the pack (for now) and if a concept makes executives a little uncomfortable, then it surely must be right.

Any thoughts? Add them in the comments below!

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