December 10, 2006
TV Show Naming: Profane Is the Name of the Game
When CBS announced last week that it gave a pilot commitment to a show called Fugly, I can’t say I was a bit surprised. Because the sitcom is currently “dying,” networks are desperate to increase viewership, and coming up with controversial (read: trashy) titles is one way to do so.
Does this strategy guarantee success? No.
Just look at the recent failure of Fox’s Stacked, a Pamela Anderson vehicle that played off her enormous...ego. Or consider the 2001 dead-on-arrival That’s My Bush from Comedy Central.
Fugly, which is a compressed name for “f*cking ugly,” comes from the creators of My Name Is Earl, a brand name that thrives on making a statement (literally) by using an eponym. The humor and charm of its name, in many ways, reflects the humor and charm of the show. Expectations set, brand promise delivered.
Can we, therefore, apply that same principle to Fugly? If so, what kind of humor should we expect after a 6- or 13- or 22-episode commitment? Can it be sustained, or is it a one-joke wonder? Or, is it a name conceived solely to shock and, therefore, entice new viewers?
It’s dangerous to name a show with borderline obscenity. Not only does a network risk polarizing potential viewers, but it may eventually turn away the ones they initially attracted.
Especially if the show cannot deliver on the expectations of ribaldry and offensiveness that its brand name conveys.
Posted by Diane Prange at December 10, 2006 11:32 AM
Posted to Naming
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