Party politics don't just affect how you vote — they might help determine what you watch on TV. Republicans are more likely to tune into shows that dominate the ratings, especially reality fare such as American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, according to a study by media researcher Experian Simmons. Democrats favor shows with modest ratings but critical acclaim, such as Mad Men and 30 Rock, and tend to like "shows about damaged people," according to one researcher. What does this study tell us about our preconceived ideas about one another in today's polarized political climate?
The right is resurgent on TV too: Prime-time is ruled by the political right, says James Hibberd in The Hollywood Reporter, but it wasn't always that way. In the 1990s, when the Clintons were in the White House, the "Nielsens were topped by NBC's young, progressive urbanites such as those on Friends, Mad About You, Will & Grace, and Seinfeld, along with the liberal-skewing dramas like The West Wing." But, even during that "progressive primetime heyday," traditional, more conservative shows such as Home Improvement and Touched by an Angel were huge hits.
"The reign of right-wing primetime"
Republicans are not obsessed with family values after all: "Republicans are often labeled as the conservative party," says Leezel Tanglao at ABC News, but they seem to get a little more liberal with a TV remote in their hands. "Those who vote along Republican lines favored several mainstream TV shows with non-conservative themes and progressive storylines, including the Emmy-award winning ABC sitcom Modern Family, which features a gay couple."
"Study finds Republicans favor popular 'non-conservative' TV shows"
Democrats are not always snobby elites: It's surprising to learn that "two of the top five Dem-leaning shows are Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami and 90210," says Kyle Buchanan at New York. Not exactly what you would have expected from the snooty liberal stereotype. Maybe "the biggest threat to continued Republican gains in 2012 will come from avid readers of Us Weekly."
"Republicans love hit shows, Democrats love shows no one watches (and the Kardashians)"
But often the stereotypes fit: Actually, this study provides statistical support for all our sweeping generalizations about both parties, says Sean O'Neal in The Onion's A.V. Club. Republicans like ratings hits, like police procedurals and American Idol, while Democrats like critically acclaimed underperformers, such as 30 Rock and Mad Men. "So basically, Republicans are in tune with the heart of the country and on the side of law and order, while Democrats tend to side with elitists, criminals, and losers." Duh.
"Republicans watch TV like this, Democrats watch TV like this"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- California's epic drought
Subscribe to the Week