Washington Heights on MTV is an example of a show that failed not because it wasn’t good or didn’t have a devoted, core audience. It failed because the network it was on didn’t believe it would succeed and did absolutely nothing to promote it.
MTV doesn’t make reality shows about young people of colour, so Washington Heights, a show about Dominicans and Latino’s living in upper Manhattan was a nice breath of fresh air. Instead of it being Jersey Shore with brown faces, it was about young people trying to make it and do something positive with their lives and their art. It was a show that a lot of people gravitated to and loved, including me.
The early reviews of the show were positive, though some of the chatter on Twitter was saying it was boring or staged, it seemed like people were watching. However, Washington Heights debuted the same week as Buckwild, a show about young people in rural Virginia that was already seen as the new Jersey Shore. The Buckwild cast were on the Today Show, Access Hollywood, on MTV’s website, Tumblr page and all over their Twitter feed. It was obvious from the beginning that Buckwild was the show MTV was pushing, and Washington Heights just happened to be premiering the same week.
After the first episode aired, support for the show pretty much dropped completely. MTV live tweeted the first few episodes, but made negative comments about the show. R&B artist Miguel picked all the music for one episode and took over the MTV twitter feed to live tweet, but it was barely promoted and there was no mention in the episode that Miguel had picked the music. Barely any commercials for the show aired, the cast did very little media and perhaps the most crucial thing was the lack of reruns. MTV plays it’s signature shows, Snooki and JWow, Teen Mom 2, Catfish: The TV Show in marathons on the weekend. For a new show like Washington Heights, getting a big audience was important, especially since the ratings for the debut episode weren’t that great, and showing a marathon on the weekend would introduce more viewers to the show. It never happened. Now with one episode left, MTV Canada has pulled the show completely from its television line up, only showing it online and MTV US has pushed it back to 11 pm on Wednesdays.
It’s pretty clear that Washington Heights will not be getting a second season and it makes me angry because MTV never gave it a chance. The question is, why?
JP Perez, the star of the show, pitched the idea to MTV. It’s his show and his creation, which is something to applaud. The fact that MTV would put its time and money in to a show about Latino’s that showed them in a positive light was a step in the right direction. But it didn’t give MTV the standout personality like Snooki, it didn’t have shocking moments like Catfish, or drunk kids getting in to fights like Buckwild. Does that mean there isn’t a television market for young people of colour to be positive on TV? Do we have to settle for the Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta?
It’s frustrating that MTV didn’t do everything they could to promote this show and allow it to become successful. But like many other Washington Heights fans, the show will always stay with me. It was fun to watch, the cast members were lovable and talented and smart. I hope they’re able to use the show to make their dreams come true.
Shame on you, MTV, for letting this show go.