Check please! It seems there just isn’t much appetite for yet another mediocre US cable drama.
On Sunday (June 5), AMC will serve up its latest offering, Feed the Beast, starring David Schwimmer and Jim Sturgess as friends trying to open a restaurant in the Bronx while being deviled by mobsters and other such rotten apples. It’s Sturgess’s first major entree into television and perhaps Schwimmer’s meatiest role since the network TV sitcom Friends.
Good dramas are AMC’s bread and butter. Home to Breaking Bad and Mad Men, the US cable network has catered exquisitely to this so-called “Golden Age of TV.” But since both of those critically acclaimed shows ended, AMC has struggled to find another similarly prestigious series to put on its menu (other than the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul).
And it doesn’t look like Feed the Beast will bring home the bacon for AMC. Reviews started trickling out yesterday, and so far, critics aren’t biting.
Part of the problem is that TV viewers already have so much on their plates, there just isn’t room for a middling drama like Feed the Beast. Critics appear to agree that it’s an overstuffed attempt at prestige TV. Maureen Ryan of Variety called it a “flavorless concoction,” while Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter likened it to “One bad meal followed by yet another inedible offering.”
The headlines alone prove that critics can’t stomach the show, though the headline-writers clearly had some fun burning it with some excellent puns. Here’s a taste:
- AMC’s ‘Feed the Beast’ hungry for better writing—San Francisco Chronicle
- ‘Feed The Beast’ Review: AMC Restaurant Drama Lacks Nutritional Value—Deadline
- AMC’s ‘Feed the Beast’ tastes like chicken—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- ‘Feed the Beast’ Serves up Empty Calories—Flavorwire
- AMC’s Feed The Beast wants to be fine dining, but it’s closer to junk food—AV Club
- In ‘Feed the Beast,’ the ingredients don’t jell—Boston Globe
- AMC’s ‘Feed the Beast’ is served with a vintage Schwimmer, but still overcooked—Washington Post
- ‘Feed the Beast’ is another dark dish on AMC menu—Philly.com
- ‘Feed the Beast’ serves mushy fare—Orlando Sentinel
- AMC Cooking Drama ‘Feed The Beast’ Has Too Many Ingredients—MediaPost
- Overcooked ‘Beast’ too hard to swallow—Detroit News
- Series doesn’t add any flavour to familiar recipe—Winnipeg Free Press
- Review: Feed the Beast Will Leave You Hungry—Time
Snarky headlines notwithstanding, the reviews do share an important point: Viewers just don’t have time for unpalatable television. In this age of peak TV, the cream rises to the top, while everything else gets scooped to the side. Between cable channels such as AMC, FX, and USA, premium channels HBO, Showtime, and Starz, and streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu, we already have more options than any reasonable person could have time to watch.
Shows like Feed the Beast must bear fruit immediately if they want to attract an audience. Viewers don’t have the patience to let them stew, or hope they eventually rise above a faltering start. Not with such a smorgasbord of great TV out there, waiting to be devoured. To produce another Breaking Bad or Mad Men, AMC will have to spice things up.