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Fatal Females Draw Reality-TV Crowds

7/30/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

When love goes wrong, it can trigger dire consequences
for the antagonist in the relationship. But in the
reality TV world,
such encounters have
turned into bloody
good ratings.

Shows such as Investigation
Discovery’s
Scorned: Love
Kills
and Oxygen’s Snapped, in which mostly female
victims exact painful and often deadly revenge on
their partners for personal indiscretions, are resonating
with young women who are watching in significant
numbers. Network executives say viewers are tuning
in to see what pushes these women to commit such
heinous crimes.

Others say such shows provide a
sense of empowerment for viewers
during difficult economic times that
may leave them feeling powerless.

TASTE FOR REVENGE

“We as a society feel disconnected,”
Henry Schleiff, president and general
manager of Investigation Discovery,
said. “But when someone
through the drama of television
can see that one person can truly
have an impact to control their lives
or exact revenge, it’s very satisfying
in this world in which we feel sometimes
powerless.”

ID, which has mined the truecrime,
relationship-themed genre
with such shows as Deadly Women
and Scorned, last month launched a
Wednesday-night block of relationship-
based series in an effort to draw
its core 25-54 female viewers.

The block, which includes Who the
[Bleep] Did I Marry?
, about spouses
who are completely unaware of their
partner’s secret lives; and Dates From
Hell
, about people who survive potentially
deadly threats from significant
others, has already increased
ID’s delivery of its core female demo
by 56% compared to the prior six-week average, according
to the network.

True-life storylines — such as a woman who had to
escape from her date’s trunk after he kidnapped her, or
another woman who hired a hit man to kill her cheating
husband — appeal to women who can relate to being
in similar situations but would never go to such
extremes, TV One CEO Wonya Lucas said.

“One of the reasons people like the genre is because
they are true life stories that are relatable in some
way,” Lucas said of shows including TV One’s Love Addiction,
about interventions into destructive relationships.
“There are lessons to be learned in the mistakes
that people have made and sometimes how you react
to things that you can’t control.”

Lucas said the often-brutal depictions of women going
off the deep end do not turn off viewers. Instead,
female viewers are intrigued and want to know how
the subjects came to their breaking point.

CURIOSITY DRIVES VIEWING

“It’s unexpected behavior for women, so people have a
curiosity about what drives someone to actually commit
such a crime,” Lucas said. “What were her options?
Why didn’t she walk away? I think there’s a curiosity
factor surrounding the sensationalism. They want to
understand the psychological reasons behind the act.”

Last month, pop star Lady Gaga tweeted about her
obsession with Oxygen’s long-running drama/reality
series Snapped, saying in part, “I’m crazy, but not as
crazy as those chicks,” according to Sarah Lindman,
senior vice president of programming strategy for
Oxygen Media.

She said the nine-year-old Snapped — with narratives
of women who have committed or attempted to
commit murder of their spouses — is having one of
its best campaigns this year. The series’ June 24 episode
delivered its best audience in three years, averaging
450,000 adult 18-to-49-year-old viewers.

Lindman said Snapped’s success — the network has
already green-lighted a 10th season — often derives
from the idea that viewers feel better about themselves
and their own situations when compared to the personalities
portrayed in the show.

“People like watching the show because it makes
you think, ‘I am sane and not as far gone as the women
in that show.’ There is an entertainment and somewhat
relaxing value in watching the show.”

TAKEAWAY

Stories of relationships and
revenge are resonating with
young female viewers.

September