Provo, UT—BYUtv makes history this year by being the worst TV network on cable—for 20 consecutive years—that’s every year since the network’s inception in 2000. Altogether, this makes BYUtv the worst channel in television history—worse than CSPAN, the Weather Channel, and the Oprah Winfrey Network combined. How did they accomplish such a feat? Let us count the ways.
First, BYUtv is studded with B actors—maybe D actors is more accurate. You’ve never heard of these people before and they’ve never stood in front of a camera before. They don’t know how TV works, and there’s nobody in the network who’s able to tell them how either. (See BYUtv’s Wayne Brady perform as a drag queen before earning his spot on the network.)
Then there’s Studio C. Do you remember the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? The emperor parades around stark naked, but out of a fear of appearing unrefined and uncultured no one is willing to draw attention to the truth. In this case, Studio C is the emperor. And like the proverbial monarch of old, the show is completely bereft of the thing that it believed it had—comedy. Nobody says anything, because they’re afraid of offending their friends—who all seem to think it’s funny—or because they themselves think they’ll appear un-Mormon for doing so. Oh Studio C, if only someone cared enough about you to tell you the truth.
Then there are the imitator shows. These are shows that BYUtv has tried to rip off from more successful networks… it’s like when you tried to remake Star Wars with your mom’s camcorder. Do you like Fixer Upper, but can’t afford HGTV? No worries, try BYUtv’s The Fixers—it’s basically the same thing. If you liked CBS’s The Amazing Race, saddle up for Relative Race—a touching show about frantic genealogy. Looking for an alternative to National Geographic’s Dog Whisperer? Tune in to BYUtv for the latest episode of The Wizard of Paws (yes, that’s a real show). Remember being blown away by David Blaine: Street Magic? Tricked is like the same thing, only imagine a magician who works kids’ birthday parties doing card tricks in the basement of BYU’s student center—it’s that good!
Maybe you thought your fourth-grade version of Star Wars was actually pretty good—even better than the original. Don’t worry, for you nerds who didn’t get enough low-budget, ad-libbed home movies as a kid try Granite Flats or Dwight in Shining Armor (the latter does not star Rainn Wilson, the writers just kiped the name Dwight from The Office, probably in an attempt to siphon some of its popularity).
Of course, BYUtv is also known for its self-proclaimed “feel good” shows. These include hits like Making Good, Random Acts, and The Kindness Diaries. I wonder why other networks don’t have programming like this. BYUtv’s slogan used to be, “see the good in the world.” Network producers are considering a new tagline: “fake the good in the world.”
In some ways it’s not a surprise that BYUtv’s ratings are so low. After all, their main target audience is octogenarians who have turn to the channel by accident. On the other hand, the low ratings are somewhat of a mystery: Who gets tired of watching inside scoops to shows you’ve never heard of and seeing up close the lives of people you’re supposed to believe are famous?
BYUtv declined an interview for this article.