It’s that time of the year, folks! The leaves are changing, the air is getting crisper, and finally—FINALLY—the fall television season is about to begin. (How was my summer? Boring and lacking good TV shows! Thanks for asking!)

But with renewal comes doom: the bulk of new series debuted in September and October are, as we all know, unlikely to make it past mid-season without cancelation. It turns out that the networks already have a pretty good idea about what shows will thrive and what will fail, and they hedge their bets by backing their favorite hopefuls with major coin.

Michael O’Connell at the Hollywood Reporter writes:

Even as the volume of scripted TV surges, broadcast execs share a universal gripe each fall about the futile act of promoting dozens of new series at the same time. Which shows get an extra push may reveal the ones with the best chance of survival.

“If you try everything at once, you will end up accomplishing nothing,” says Fox Television Group COO Joe Earley. Thanks to a long lead time and the involvement of celebrity showrunner Ryan Murphy, Earley has been pro­moting the horror-comedy Scream Queens since February.

In many ways, the fall TV season is a (lower stakes) Hunger Games, where shows that have been given wildly different resources are expected to face off for survival. You have your Districts One and Two—series like Scream Queens and The Muppets—which have been given seemingly endless funding for viral and pop-up marketing campaigns, going against your Districts 11 and 12—shows that you haven’t yet heard of because the networks, not trusting them to succeed, don’t think that awareness advertising is worth their money.

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But like in the Hunger Games, the underdog occasionally wins and it’s heartening to know that for every massive network flop, there’s a charming, low-budget sitcom chugging into its second season. So enjoy this wonderful television season, my friends, but remember: Trust no one and don’t get too attached.


Contact the author at madeleine@jezebel.com.

Image via Scream Queens/FX.