Spotlight on: The Osbournes

Oct 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

One can’t really call “The Osbournes” a sitcom. It is, after all, unscripted. It’s not quite a reality show, either, because it’s sometimes edited like a sitcom. What the show is, though, is a hit, MTV’s biggest so far.
Built around the real-life adventures of metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne, his wife Sharon and their teenage kids Kelly and Jack, the program had all the makings of a freak show. But people who tuned in last spring to catch premiere soon found something deeper.
“It is popular because it is so startling and yet so relatable to our audience,” said Lois Curren, senior VP, music development, who shepherds the show for MTV. “People tune in to see the `Prince of Darkness’ trying to operate the vacuum cleaner or take out the trash and do things that every dad in America has to deal with.”
MTV’s core 12- to 34-year-old audience apparently finds a lot to like about “The Osbournes.” The show averages a hulking 5.6 rating among MTV viewers in that age group and a 4.4 household rating within MTV’s cable universe.
The already potent MTV promotion machine got an unexpected boost from actor Jack Black, whose band Tenacious D recorded a music video for the show.
“We played it in rotation on MTV, so that was a fairly unusual promotion for us,” Ms. Curren said.
The show clicks with viewers on a number of levels. It is certainly outrageous. Like a siren call, it lures the viewer each week just to see how weird things can get. Like a well-produced scripted series, each episode has a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. The music that accompanies the show is almost anti-Osbourne in feel. Most of all, viewers have discovered that aging rock stars can still have a life that is, in many regards, normal.
The show’s long-term draw remains a question mark, but Ms. Curren sees no end in sight.
“Every single day, they amaze us with some new development in their lives,” she said, “And as long as they let us point cameras at them, it just might work.”