Shakespeare said it best when he penned Juliet’s famed line, “What’s in a name?” But could it be possible that calling a rose by another name does make it lose its sweetness? What if instead that which we call a rose was named a bitch (excuse my “French”!)?
ABC has two new primetime comedies with rather risqué titles. Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 airing on Wednesdays and Sunday night’s comedy GCB (based off the book Good Christian Bitches) both hint dangerously at the big bad “B” word. So what implications if any does this have? A recent Broadcasting & Cable article explored this question and found a mixed bag of both concern and nonchalance.
The biggest problem ABC affiliates find with these risqué titles is that when people are upset with the network’s programming, they often take it out on the regional affiliates. Imagine being mad at the nice lady working at the Wal-Mart register because you disapprove of Wal-Mart’s corporate policies. But even in these instances, the pushback on the names has been minimal. GCB’s “in development” title was originally the full Good Christian Bitches. They later switched it to Good Christian Belles and finally what we know and love today, GCB. It is interesting to note, that while the show is controversial on its own, as tackling religion and comedy must be done delicately, after ABC made the final name change, the flood of angry viewers greatly lessened.
The second issue that arises when a show has a controversial title or content is that advertisers may pull out or ask not to air during the offending show’s timeslot. As both of these shows are new, it is difficult to determine if an advertiser’s request for one of the shows to be on the “not preferred list” is due to it simply being new and therefore a rating risk or because of the controversial names.
So really, what is in a name? A name with bitch or a similar naughty word does standout. It’s memorable and at the moment, rare. But it definitely will throw off a fair amount of people. But that’s what target audience research is all about. Don’t Trust the B---- is most-likely targeting 20- and 30-somethings who could care less about the title. At the end of the day, when choosing a name, the most important step is to know your audience and write for them.