Cable TV is filled with a wide variety of scripted series, ranging from quirky comedies to dangerously dark dramas to genre-defying experiments. In fact, there are so many series that it can be difficult to decide what is and isn't worth watching. Well, one cable network has decided to give up on scripted TV entirely and focus on getting back to its successful unscripted roots. A&E is moving away from scripted television.
The news of the move away from scripted TV comes in the wake of the Bates Motel series finale. Bates Motel was a hit with critics and viewers alike for its five seasons on the air, and it was proof that A&E did have what it takes to craft a solid scripted series. Apparently, it was not enough of a hit that A&E feels compelled to continue working in the scripted genre. At the very least, the amazing Bates Motel finale was a great way to leave the game.
The decision to step away from scripted TV is major, but not altogether surprising. Deadline reports that A&E has not given the greenlight to a new scripted project -- pilot or series -- since 2015, whereas a number of unscripted series have moved forward in the last couple of years. Even more tellingly, the A&E head of scripted television Gabriel Marano made the transition away from scripted and into A&E Studios. He was not replaced.
A&E has been home of some pretty stellar scripted series over the years, and not just Bates Motel. Dramas Longmire and The Glades both ran for three seasons, and a couple others managed to last for two seasons. The success has been present, but modest, and there's no real room for comparison between the numbers for scripted and unscripted series.
Unscripted projects at A&E have always been the biggest winners. Shows like Storage Wars and Duck Dynasty made headlines early on, and the recent Scientology and the Aftermath project from Leah Remini was a huge hit, to name just a few. As part of the push back into exclusively unscripted shows, A&E is reviving its long-running series Biography, which will debut on June 28. The success of Live PD has encouraged the network to develop more properties with live elements.
All things considered, the official shift away from scripted projects may not actually be all that noticeable. Bates Motel was going off the air anyway; it simply won't be replaced. A&E has always aired far more unscripted series anyway. It should be interesting to see what happens next for the network.
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