ABC announced Megalyn Echikunwoke and Cedric Sanders will co-star in “Influence,” a pilot centering on two polar-opposite brothers cracking cases for clients. “Influence” is slated to debut next season and will be accompanied on the primetime schedule by a NBC pilot starring Lance Gross as a secret service agent. Derek Luke has also landed a primetime gig on CBS’ “Second Sight” and Meagan Goode is still seeking the truth about her best friend’s death on NBC’s “Deception.” Clutch is dubbing the sudden diversifying of traditional broadcast television the “Scandal” effect.
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have notoriously blacklisted brown faces from their primetime lineups. Before Kerry Washington landed the lead role in “Scandal,” an African-American woman hadn’t starred in a network drama in more than three decades. It was an instant success.
“Scandal” has averaged more than 3 million viewers each week and tapped the elusive African-American viewing audience. Nielsen reports “Scandal” as the highest-rated drama among the black demographic, reaching 10.1 percent of our households. The groundbreaking show also dominates social media when new episodes air and have ignited academic conversations about the representation of black women in television.
ABC scored an unexpected smash with “Scandal” and broadcast networks are scrambling to emulate their formula. While this is a positive result, which Shonda Rhimes and her team should take pride in snowballing, it is also cause for minor alarm. What happens when “Scandal” ends? Interest will decline at some point as is common with television shows and the network will no longer see the advertising value of the program. A series finale will commence and if other networks haven’t landed hits as successful as “Scandal,” will there again be a void of brown faces in primetime?
The answer won’t appear until the bridge is approached, but here’s hoping “Scandal” has longevity and the Big Three continue seeing the value of diversifying primetime lineups.