As the fall TV season gets underway, one of the big questions is what new show is actually worth watching. Viewers aren’t willing to invest precious time into long shots. They’re looking for sure hit entertainment that maximizes their scant TV time. Marketing research and strategy lab, Collider, picked four much-talked-about TV shows premiering this fall– Almost Human, The Crazy Ones, The Goldbergs, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and surveyed 500 consumers using a radically novel research approach.
Using Collider’s Predictive Market Concept Evaluator® – a large proprietary online survey that leverages the “wisdom of crowds” (the notion that a diverse group of people are much more adept at consistently predicting others’ behavior versus their own) – we can predict that Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the hottest show of the bunch.
So, what makes the show so buzz-worthy?
It leverages, “Fantasy Fear,” a cultural trend that’s gained momentum in the last few years. “Fantasy Fear” is evident in TV shows, books, movies and videogames that are based in the fantasy genre, but express society’s underlying fears of the future (think True Blood, The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, Heroes, X-men, Grim, etc.). In each one of these stories, a central conflict is “normal” people dealing with the consequences of an advanced, bastardized or altered species of humans.
All these shows are essentially drawing much of their emotional power from real angst people feel about human genetic manipulation, GMO’s, mega-viruses like SARS and bio-terrorism.
At its root, Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. is about our fear of possible consequences from genetic manipulation. The story begins when Agent Phil Coulson puts together a small team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases. Each case will test the team in cooperation and ingenuity as they try to work together figuring out newly emerging superhuman individuals in the world. Together they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.
In the past, “Fantasy Fear” stories dealt with our old fear of machines taking over humanity, like the super-human computer WATSON in 2001: A Space Odyssey and artificial intelligence in Terminator. These films were extremely popular in the past because they each had a different ending to the seemingly impending human vs. machine crisis. In general though, that crisis no longer holds our imagination—our fear of machines has waned.
Another new fall show, however, Almost Human, taps into this dated machine anxiety version of “Fantasy Fear,” which is about LAPD detectives who are paired up with life-like androids. And our predictive market panelists did not predict this would be successful. This comes as no surprise based on the evolution of the “Fantasy Fear” trend.
Watch S.H.I.E.L.D for yourself, and check back here in a few days. We'll post ratings to see how accurate our 500 consumers were. Unless, that is, we've succumbed to some freaky zombie virus or realized our full superhuman potential and are off terrorizing humanity.