A whole raft of talented actors, many of whom have rabidly loyal followers. A genuinely cute and funny kid named Albert Tsai. A rising teen star (Bailee Madison) with a veritable army (239,000!) of Twitter followers. Characters of many different ages, to whom many women can relate because they are her, had a mother like her, or have a teenager like her. Some great, laugh-out-loud lines. Warm, likeable characters – including the Trophy Wife herself, Malin Akerman.
And yet, it’s floundering. Well, not exactly floundering floundering. But, if rumours are to believed, forever teetering on the edge of being cancelled. Which, after three episodes, is clearly ridiculous, and would be a big mistake. This show has all the ingredients of a future classic. And it’s keeping the Bradley Whitford fan girls incredibly happy.
So, ABC, here’s my advice, for what it’s worth.
1. Be patient!
It’s only been on three times. People need time to discover it, get it trending on Twitter, overcome any preconceptions they might have about yet another dysfunctional-family drama. Sample tweet from tonight: “this is so much better than I thought it would be!”. YES. Exactly. People need time to find this out.
2. Change the timeslot.
Look, Tuesdays at 9.30 works for me. I watch New Girl, then I switch over to ABC. But you know who doesn’t switch over? All the people who watch the Mindy Project. All the people who watch the Mindy Project because they choose to, and all the people who watch the Mindy Project because, like me last year before I knew that Matthew Perry was on another channel at 9.30, they just keep the TV on after New Girl while they wander off to boil some pasta, and find the Mindy Project is an okay way to round off their evening.
I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the women who enjoy the Mindy Project would enjoy Trophy Wife. I’d also be willing to bet that the people who enjoy The Goldbergs, which is on at 9 on ABC immediately beforehand, probably aren’t going to watch Trophy Wife. And many people who would like Trophy Wife would switch off the TV thirty seconds into The Goldbergs.
3. Change the title
I like it. I really do. I am not one of those women (you know the ones) who is easily offended, and in any case I get that the title is “ironic”. Malin Akerman’s character is not some airhead bimbo. She’s sweet and kind and wants to be a good mom in this complicated family (though I hope we soon get to see more of what her interests are beyond this). But is it possible that irony is lost on the TV viewing public, especially those members of it who have not watched a zillion interviews in which various members of the cast explain this? I submit to you that it is.
4. Introduce more men
This pains me greatly, because the last thing I want for Trophy Wife is less screen time for Bradley Whitford, who is (oh, come on – tell me you knew this!) the reason I watch and the reason I so desperately want it to go on until it has to be called Trophy Widow. (His joke, not mine. See! He’s funny.)
It’s just that this show is chocka full of hot women, for all kinds of tastes and all kinds of ages, And there’s really only one man on the menu. Once a woman starts watching, she will realise this one man is enough to keep her watching. But some women may not start watching at all. They may be under the mistaken impression that a man in his fifties cannot be attractive. For these women, perhaps a greater variety would be useful – maybe just the occasional bit part for a younger hottie or a super-famous and/or much beloved star.
5. Bring in some guest stars
This is related to the last point, but famous guest stars really do draw in new viewers. I only found out about Matthew Perry’s now sadly defunct show Go On because of a certain guest star, and then I watched all of the episodes. If I didn’t already watch The Good Wife, I’d be tuning in to watch Janel Moloney’s guest appearance on Sunday night, then I’d discover I like it.
6. Make Bradley Whitford tweet
If Brad gave in and tweeted, he would have thousands of followers within hours. People – and not just me, I guarantee you – would be excited to find him on Twitter. It would generate buzz. Some might tweet at him because they want Josh Lyman to come to DC and end the Government Shutdown, and because these are nerds who only watch MSNBC and West Wing reruns (hey, I’m one of these people, I’m allowed to say this), this may be the first time they hear about Trophy Wife. But I bet some of them would love him enough to try it.
Also, this last episode was even called “The Social Network”, so it would be themed, and everything! C’mon, Brad. You recently referenced (jokingly, I realise) your “sad need for attention”. There is plenty of attention out of there waiting to be got. Come over to The Dark Side.
*** UPDATE: As of 14th October, you can, in fact, follow him at @WhitfordBradley, and live-tweet the episodes with him. I take no credit for this. Well, okay, maybe I take some. ***
7. Engage your fans
This is related, and the cast and crew are getting better at it. For example, Marcia Gay Harden promised to follow anyone who tweeted a picture of their TV with Trophy Wife on it. (And she made good on that promise, too.) The cast do some live tweeting of the show (mostly on West Coast time). They’re on pretty much all the social networks now, which is great. But there’s so much more that they could be doing with each of those. (@TrophyWifeABC is the official account, and there’s also the unofficial @TrophyWifeFans – hmm, I wonder who is behind that one?)
But there are all kinds of creative ways to engage us more. New Girl has a “fan of the week” shout-out, for example. There could be competitions. There could be prizes in exchange for the best Pinterest board. The possibilities are endless.
Trophy Wife had a mysteriously vanishing event pop up on Charity Buzz (lunch on set with Brad, Malin, and Marcia, no less) which would have got people talking and tweeting (and giving money to charity). I don’t know where it went, but I for one would definitely bid.
8. Give it a chance!
Fox gave The Good Guys an entire season. C’mon, ABC. Trophy Wife deserves at least that.
- ‘Trophy Wife’ Is More Than Just A Pretty Face On ABC (npr.org)
- Is ‘Trophy Wife’ The New Modern Family? (contactmusic.com)
- Why Malin Akerman Joined ‘Trophy Wife’ (huffingtonpost.com)