FX: Changing the Model for Episodic TV?

Two recent articles in the Hollywood Reporter have praised the untraditional approach FX (Fox's pay outlet that tends to feature edgier original programming) has taken in developing some fresh episodic TV ("fresh" and "episodic TV" are words that don't normally go together).

Beginning in 2002, FX emerged as a major force in original cable programming. Starting with with their police drama The Shield (2002-2008), then a drama about plastic surgeons called Nip/Tuck (2003-2010), and the Denis Leary post 9/11 firefighter show Rescue Me (2004-2011) - FX has found market share by pushing the envelope.

If you're a microbudget filmmaker, the most exciting recent Hollywood Reporter story about FX might be the account of how It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the FX comedy series set in dingy bar in South Philly, began as a $100 to $200 video.

Or, if you're a fan of Glee and/or horror, you might be excited by the news that FX has greenlit American Horror Story, described as a chilling horror thriller by Glee's Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.

All the praise FX chief John Landgraf is receiving in the trades for his willingness to experiment and take risks might seem a bit overblown (especially if, like me, you're experimenting with your own non-linear online video). But, considering that he works in the very conservative world of TV development, John Lindgraf deserves credit for taking risks. Especially since some of Lindgraf's risks have favored outsiders. Let's hope other TV execs are reading the trades - and that (like John Lindgraf) they will start to place small bets on untested talent. After that, it will be our job to provide the winners.

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