When Glee’s Lea Michele took the stage at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards, bravely accepting her award in tragically deceased boyfriend Cory Monteith’s honor, Gleeks around the world applauded her bravery. Her beautiful speech-turned-tribute was touching, heartfelt, and tearful, and also happened to be her first public appearance since Cory’s sudden and shocking death on July 13. However, some members of the media focused on how she didn’t bump the ratings for the awards show.
When reporting the ratings earlier this week, Deadline noted the “surprise” that she wasn’t able to give the show a bigger bump, given that it was her first on-stage appearance since Cory passed. While Fox did not promote Lea’s appearance in advance, information was spread across social media, causing many to believe that more people (especially teens) would tune in to see if she would show up — and what she would say.
Deadline compared Cory’s death to Whitney Houston’s passing, citing that the Teen Choice Awards were a “far cry” from the 2012 Grammys, in which “nearly 40 million people turned out … to watch the music industry lay its heart at the feet of its fallen heroine Whitney Houston, who had died dramatically the previous afternoon in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub.” Meanwhile, the TCAs hit 2.6 million, the first time the show hasn’t reached 3 million since 2006.
Yes, the 2012 show ended up being the second-largest audience in Grammy history, but should the media even compare the two? The Teen Choice Awards have been around for 14 years in comparison to the Grammy Awards’ 55, and as the name implies, the TCAs are targeted toward teens. Also, Whitney’s death occurred the day before the Grammys, whereas Cory’s death happened a little less than a month prior to the Teen Choice. Not that timing matters — we’re more focused on the disrespectful nature of blaming Lea for low ratings. She is not the sole person responsible for the ratings dip, and even if she was — for instance, if Fox milked the tragic news and promoted her appearance in every ad ran on the network — it’s not something that should be highlighted.
After Deadline broke the ratings news, Just Jared headlined their story, “Teen Choice Awards Ratings Down Despite Lea Michele Speech,” as if she was the only hope for the show. Many other outlets followed, including different riffs on how the cast’s appearance “failed to lift” ratings. Perhaps instead of playing the blame game, the media could have focused on other fails within the show — unpopular performers and long speeches — or a few absent big celebs, like Taylor Swift. There are plenty of other factors that add up to bad ratings, and at the end of the day, Lea’s speech was the most memorable and talked-about part of the TCAs.
Sunday night also saw the premiere of Breaking Bad’s final episodes, True Blood’s penultimate episode, and popular reality show Big Brother was on, all of which took viewers away from a less buzzworthy awards show; if it were the Emmys, Oscars, or Grammys, maybe those numbers wouldn’t be so low.
We think that everyone needs to give Lea a break. She’s been through a lot, as has the rest of the cast, and people should be applauding her for her bravery instead of blaming her for not raising the ratings.
Do you agree, or do you think the media is being fair to Lea? Sound off below.