genre trends

Genres rise and fall in popularity. Early television was awash with variety shows,

which featured a range of comedy, song and dance, and other acts. Then came the wave of 1950s quiz shows, followed by Westerns, then police shows. Going into the 21st century, the television programming fads were talk shows in the style pioneered by Phil Donahue and sustained by Oprah Winfrey. Reality series like The Biggest Loser, American Idol, The Bachelor, Survivor, and others provided up close and personal examination of humanity at its best and worst. Police vs. criminal shows like the Law and Order franchise are still running strong alongside unsolved mystery shows and crime solvers obsessed with forensic science. The most popular trend in the last several years, however, is clearly reality television.

The buddy film is a genre involving two or three people featured in a film as “buddies.” Historically, buddy films featured men, such as Laurel and Hardy in the 1930s, but more recently buddy films can feature a man and woman, such as the film The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. In buddy films, the buddies often have contrasting personalities that play off of one another. A classic example of a buddy film is the 1969 film The Odd Couple, with messy Oscar and fastidious Felix. A more recent example is the Men in Black films, starring a humorous and rule-following Tommy Lee Jones and the humorous and emotional Will Smith.

A wave of “buddy movies” was ushered in by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969. Later Thelma and Louise spawned girlfriend movies. Lethal Weapon and subsequent buddy cop films have managed to sustain this sub-genre. Recent releases are 21 Jump Street (2012), 22 Jump Street (2014), 2 Guns (2013), and Ride Along (2014).

The James Bond films may be the longest-running and most successful franchise. Though not technically “buddy” films, many characters recur, despite the stars playing them have frequently changing. The Bond series began with Dr. No in 1963 and its most recent box-office success was Spectre in 2015.

Genre trends are audience-and-market-driven. People flock to a particular book, song, film, or television show. Producers often bank on the box-office success of an original work, but if it spawns sequels that are inferior to the originals (and they often are), then discerning audiences may easily tire of the spin-offs and may cease to watch them. When sequels are successful, they are often almost guaranteed to be box-office hits, such as Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

Some derivative genre content can be coaxed out of a quality work by clever scriptwriters and other creative professionals, such as skilled cinematographers. Many critics agree that Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather and The Godfather Part II

were both film masterpieces. Nevertheless, good producers can tell if a work’s market value is exhausted, often by shrinking box-office revenues.

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