An Open Letter to Dawn Ostroff, President of Entertainment The CW

Dawn Ostroff, New York City, May 2009

In looking at current hits like GOSSIP GIRL and 90210, not to mention upcoming trashfests MELROSE PLACE and THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE, this TV Addict can’t seem to shake the feeling that you’ve completely lost touch with your network’s roots. That thought became all the more apparent after spending this past weekend enjoying the emotional roller-coaster that was EVERWOOD’s second season.

Seriously, what’s happened to the once proud CW… once home to GILMORE GIRLS, FELICITY and even 7TH HEAVEN, each of which, in their own ways, defined outstanding television. These shows entertained, enlightened and surprised us with their ability to illicit laughter, summon up tears and even, on occasion, teach us a thing or two about ourselves and the world in which we live. Say what you will about the off-charts-preachiness of Reverend Camden and his 7TH HEAVEN flock, but creator Brenda Hampton raised more social issues than anyone since the folks behind the ABC Afterschool Special’s we all grew up on. Conversely, the only thing the current crop of CW shows seem interested in raising are their character’s hemlines and/or levels of alcohol and drug consumption.

Don’t get me wrong; It’s not as if I have anything against mindless entertainment per se. (I am, after-all a TV Addict!) However, I can’t help but wonder why the CW has exiled every positive role model — including Rory Gilmore, Felicity Porter and Ephram Brown — in favor of badly-behaving bitches like Blair Waldorf and Naomi Clark or horny hounddogs like Chuck Bass. If the trash-talking backstabbers on AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL are the closest thing you’ve got to aspirational characters, your network is in trouble.


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  • Renee

    Amen! I used to watch a ton of shows on WB/CW. Now? Nothing, for precisely the reasons you named.

  • Dana

    I do not know what you find redeeming about Felicity but I agree on the rest of your points. And 7th Heaven was good a one point it just went on to long.

  • Shara says

    Don’t forget about Veronica Mars, my favorite female fictional character in recent memory. She was smart, brave, complicated, and flawed, and IMO cancelling that show was the biggest mistake the network could possibly have made.

  • Martha Flynn

    Dawn Ostroff is dead to me.
    Nobody cancels Veronica Mars and stays in my good graces.

  • Ace

    Everything you said was why I liked Privileged, so of course they went and cancelled it.

  • Nick

    I can’t defend Dawn’s cancellation of Everwood, because there simply IS no defense. In hindsight, I hope she sees that now…or she hasn’t learned a thing.

    The unfortunate thing is: TV audiences today are imbeciles. That’s why smart, well-acted series like Veronica, Privileged and my beloved Felicity failed in the ratings. People chose garbage over quality, and they’re forever dumber for it. Now networks are catering to that idiot-majority. Why do you think Wipeout and Idol are hits? They’re mindless crap.

    One shining beacon in this mess is THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE. Trust me on this, it’s good, good stuff.

  • Christine

    Absolutely agree on every count! This is what annoys me about the CW. They want to cater to a specific audience but look at the role models that they’re throwing their way. I’m not trying to be preachy or taking things too seriously but when every single show you offer is about teens drinking, sexing, and manipulating their way through adolescence, it’s no wonder that most high schoolers think it’s a sin to end high school without having spent every weekend having sex/getting drunk.

    There’s nothing wrong with those kind of shows–we all need our trashy teen soaps, but when your network has incredibly low ratings and you’re the laughing stock of the network biz, it’s probably a sign that you should start providing something of substance to diversify your schedule a bit.

  • Fangirl_Says

    CW has exiled EVERY positive role model? What would you call Sam and Dean Winchester? And I don’t watch Smallville much, but it seems like there couldn’t be a much better role model than Superman himself. TV Addict, you’re just as guilty as the CW when it comes to ignoring the shows it doesn’t think brings in enough teenage girl viewers.

  • Cindy

    Thank you for putting into words my very thoughts. I still mourn Everwood; it’s been nice to see you focused on this the last couple of days! Between reality crap and so much of the other stuff passing for TV these days; well, these are sorry times in which we live:(

  • TVFan

    Well Said! Maybe Dawn Ostroff will give Body Politic another look.

  • shara says

    Supernatural is just about the only show that I watch on the CW anymore. I love the Winchester boys, and its one of my favorite shows – but it doesn’t do anything to fill in the gap of smart, brave, interesting female characters on the CW.

  • Kelleh

    There is very little that is redeeming about Felicity Porter. Season 1 Felicity had her moments, and though she was a dumb decision maker and overthinker (see Greek quote of the week), she generall comported herself with dignity (oh wait, there was that one night stand with the artist, and then she did try to help ben cheat on his paper… but other than that she was ok). But by season 4 she’s not only cheating on her boyfriend but she’s copying disertations out of the library and handing them in as her own work! Felicity had topless photos of her appear on the internet, she was almost expelled multiple times, she cheated on multiple boyfriends and she too (like the gossip girl bunch) got busted for sneaking into the pool.

    If you ask me, smart and ambitious Blair Waldorf’s a much better role model than Felicity, at least she owns it when she’s a bitch.

  • Kelleh

    That said, you’re totally right about the CW’s monotonous parade of pretty people making bad decisions. A few genre shows aside, all their shows are the same and it’s about time they challenged their audience.

  • Nick

    OK, I’m read to *throw down* with this Kelleh dude. If there’s one fictional character you just don’t disparage, it’s Felicity.

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  • LoVevmars

    Still mourning the loss of Veronica Mars : (

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  • Daniel

    AMEN!! Unfortunately, it seems the cancer of show catering to the lowest common denominator and reality shows are taking over everywhere. Why must this happen?! Can’t people who love quality have some place to go? It’s like turning to cartoon network for the latest in sports and news .. it doesn’t belong. Have loyalty and integrity to your fans the base of people that got you where you are and which you are turning your back on them with the current selection of shows. I love SMALLVILLE and Supernatural but this new schedule is pretty much death for one of them which shall remain nameless but none the less misspelled. :(

  • paul mcguire

    Wait until you all see the new shows. Life UneXpected and Vampire Diaries are classic WB and perfect for CW. Life will remind many of Felicity, Gilmore and Juno. Melrose Place is just plain Fun. Full disclosure–I work for The CW. I also worked at The WB, including Everwood, GG, Smallville et. al, and our new shows have great potential. It isn’t easy building a network–especially in the digital age–but we are well on our way. See what you think a year from now. Thank you.

  • Christine

    Paul McGuire, I can’t say the new shows are remotely my thing but who knows…I’m sure they’ll find their audience.

    If you work for the CW, mind telling me specifically why Body Politic didn’t make the cut? I can understand cost being an issue (it did have one hell of a cast) but, other than that, I simply cannot fathom that decision–not at a time when your demo got Obama elected and is extremely energized about politics. And I don’t even have to go into how many viewers that cast alone would have pulled in.

  • Nick

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Paul. I’m sure fans appreciate that their voices and opinions are at least being heard at the network office. I also happen to agree, I don’t see a weak link in the fall sked, with the exception of that ridiculous ANTM encore on Friday.

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  • paul mcguire

    To Christine and Others:
    Body Politic did indeed have a terrific cast and was a strong contender for us. But, and I know you may not believe me, we had tight, focused and provocative development this year. We had tough choices to make.

    As for Friday night, put aside the economy; we are running a business and as a new market entrant competing with hundreds of choices for viewers like all of you, we make strategic business decions that benefit the overall network and our evolving brand.

    As for Reaper, God Love The Devil but it struggled in the ratings despite yeoman work by the cast, the producers and terrific Vancouver crew. We gave it two seasons and just couldn’t get enough audience to maintain.

    The same applies to Veronica Mars. Rob Thomas: brilliant writer. Kristen Bell: movie star. Another great show with complementary cast, producers and San Diego crew. Peter Roth and WBTV make nothing but great shows.

    But again, in the end, tough business decisions must be made. I, too, have been an avid fan of many series that never caught on (The Job, anyone?).

    I know you may all read this thinking it is propaganda from The CW Flack, but I can say on behalf of my network that we appreciate and listen to every one of your online comments. We are the first–and likely last–broadcast network to launch, and in the digital age at that.

    We do what we can.

    We appreciate your interest, support and feedback, even when it is negative.

    Again, I humbly beseech you to at least take a peek at our new shows when we debut in September. TV Addict is a great site I peruse daily, and it is clear its readers are smart, demanding and invested.

    You all are exactly the kind of viewers we seek, and I make that statement without a shred of irony or cynicism.

    Thank you all again for your passion as TV fans.

    And side note to Daniel, THE TV Addict, please don’t run my heinous headshot again…:)

    Paul McGuire

  • paul mcguire

    OMFG please forgive my misspell of “decisions” as “decions.” I hope you all caught my drift…

  • Common Sense

    Your headshot looks just fine, Paul. I personally think that well-reasoned direct communication with fans, such as your two postings, go a long way in at least helping (logical-thinking) viewers to understand the many factors that go into a network’s decisions. No one is ever going to agree with every move, on TV or in life, but more interactive feedback like this helps to create a bond with passionate fanbases. At least we know someone is listening to the consumers’ concerns daily. Thanks again.

  • Manju

    I agree with most of what you are saying, The CW is mindless entertainment, but I have to say, Gossip Girl is one of the best drama shows out there, of course, it doesn’t teach you anything, but at least they have well written storylines!
    But I agree, let’s not focus on teen girls anymore, The CW needs to have some variety and quality!

  • Christine

    Paul, thanks so much for posting (even if my post came off with a bit of an edge to it). I do appreciate it.

    I still can’t say I’m not incredibly disappointed with the lack of Body Politic (it’s the first pilot I’ve ever gotten invested in), but I do really appreciate you taking the time to share your insight.

  • pau

    I can understand business decisions but Veronica Mars had the same ratings as Gossip Girl so it was really a direction towards subjects like riich teens and fashion, but i will not deny that your target audience (teens girls) mostly like that.
    And by the way Kristen Bell is a movie star level but Jason Dohring too (you didn’t pick up Body Politic sorry for you).

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  • Raya

    The only show I watch now on the CW is Supernatural. I did watch the first season of the Game, but then that show started to change. Seems like all they ever did was sit around drinking wine and complaining about men. As much as I used to like Smallville, that is a show that should have been canceled a few seasons ago. Not that Tom Welling is not lovely :]
    Seems likes the CW could think of something better to do then to remake Melrose Place. Really…Melrose Place…really. As long as Dean & Sam are on Thursday nights, I will watch. Mmmm Dean.

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  • Jessica Rae

    I agree with you fully. I am really hoping we get to see Body Politic on The CW. That’s a show that has some of the heart the network (WB) used to have.

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  • Isabella

    I’m sorry, but you sound like an ultraconservative closet case trying to bash the “girly” shows to show how manly you are, nobody thought 7th Heaven was good except over-religious right wing fundamental nutjobs, and we’re full of them here in the US. The acting was atrocious (Ashlee Simpson, case closed), and the writing was over the top cliche and predictable.

  • Lina

    Oh please, the current bunch of girly shows sucks. I’m not even a man and I agree with the OP. Nobody thought 7th Heaven was good? Really? I remember fondly watching it growing up in Asia and all the people I knew watched it and we’re not over-religious right wing fundie nutjobs in fact, I guess your nutjobs would think we’re heathens.

    The current shows are terrible, full stop. With the exception of Supernatural I guess. There’s no meat to 90210 or Gossip Girl feeding further into the archetypes of snarky females. There’s a facade that tries to scream strong female characters but really, they fail terribly at providing that. Talk about brainless entertainment.

  • Dave

    Dawn Ostroff cancelled Reaper which was one of my favourite shows. I’ll happily point her towards a few tall buildings that I’d like to see her jump off.

  • Jesus

    I just watched Everwood again and cannot believe this show was not renewed for the 5th season. Everything in the series finale was rushed and I received no closure and am truly sad executives like Dawn Ostroff are so blind to such amazingly written and performed shows. I wish someone would have the courage to pick up Everwood and continue this amazing story, but alas, my wishes probably won’t come true.

    What networks are doing these days to great shows is appalling. I, for one, am sick of all this reality crap that’s being shoveled into our homes by the truckload and have stopped watching TV as a result. Executives need to take their head out of their asses and think about something else besides money sometimes. This show could’ve have been bigger than 7th Heaven and, as long as they didn’t drag it out and push it to the point of ridiculousness (where 7th Heaven was taken to) it would have made the CW lots of money. It still is with many people anticipating the release of the 3rd and 4th seasons, myself included.

    Ostroff: You failed Everwood.

    I will miss the Everwood story. I wish it hadn’t ended.

  • Yvonne Mak

    Dear Mr. Ostroff, President of ABC Companies
    I know you're very busy and probably won't read this but it doesn't hurt to try. I beg of you to bring Kyle XY back on the air. I know the rating before weren't very high and couldn't support the show but, I feel that this new generation will bring new veiwers a ton of people have tuned in and are now left hanging after season 3 HUGE cliffhanger. We want to know if Jessi and Kyle ever get together or if Amanda gets in the way. Do they stop Latnoc and Zzyxz from making pod children and finally get their freedom to live normal lives in the messed up world around then? I think that if you give the show a chance you'd be suprised how many people would tune into your show and how many of then would be familys. ABC is a family company, so please just consider the thought.

    Yvonne (A determinated fan)