‘No-warning TV’: why are surprise releases becoming so popular?
From the OA and UnReal to Who is America?, dropping shows into the world with little or no promotion is the latest TV trend. Is it just gimmickry and do viewers lose out?
The debut of a TV series has traditionally been the last of many phases in the show’s publicity drive. First there’s the commissioning announcement, the casting news, the pieces reporting that shooting has started, the YouTube video or tweet confirming the date and the print previews in the final run-up. By the time the thing is actually on, you’d be forgiven for lacking the energy to watch.
But on Monday night on Channel 4, Sacha Baron Cohen’s new prankfest Who is America? began, just a week after we learned of its existence. Reprising the 20-year-old Brass Eye format of duping public figures with ludicrous political campaigns might not be exciting, but the surprise scheduling was.