Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Review of ESPN's "The Six" with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith: Its Rough

It has been four days of "The Six" featuring Jemele Hill and Michael Smith and, to no one's surprise, it is rough. I tried to give it a chance, but it sucks. ESPN wants to shake up things up because they have been BLEEDING subscribers.  I've watched most of the first four episodes and thus far, the efforts to improve the quality of the six o'clock hour have not been great.

I'll start by saying that making SportsCenter revolve around one or two people isn't the worst idea. I like Scott Van Pelt, who does SportCenter at midnight, and from what I have seen of Carrie Champion in the mornings she is pretty good. Trying to throw in a couple funny personalities is a good idea. However, the only people who think these two are funny are themselves.

The show basically has two types of segments, one half is boring sports stuff and the other half is awkward "we're young and edgy" but definitely not funny stuff. Hill is 41 and Smith is 37, so I would not classify them as young. They usually have some interview that no one really cares about. Today they had John Lynch and Tom Izzo. You didn't miss much, both were snooze fests. The rest of the show is them just making awkward jokes and jokes that no one gets. I'm 23 and listen to some rap music but earlier this week they were talking about "knucking if you buck" and "trap Jesus." I have no idea what the hell they are talking about, and I'm guessing only 1 or 2% of people who might tune into SportsCenter have even an idea of what they are referencing.

It is either uncomfortable or demeaning to the hosts, either way it doesn't work:

Here is a Ted Talk Jemele Hill did at PSU posted in 2015.  In this talk she is very well spoken. Now I will acknowledge, the way that you speak in front of a crowd is going to be different from how you host a television show. However, the way both Hill and Smith speak on the show seems forced. It is clear that they can be articulate, yet they sound like they are trying to speak as though they are young and "hip." It does not come off as such. Hill and Smith speak in the way that they think an 18 year old would speak. This means one of two things. First is that maybe the way the hosts speak on the show is how they speak in their normal conversation, and to the outside listener their jokes come off as awkward. The references that they make to movies and shows, something that they pride themselves on and think is hilarious, are references that that people just don't pick up on. If this is the case then it is just an uncomfortable, and they shouldn't be hosting the show.

Either this is how they speak normally or the producers/ESPN higher ups are telling them "be hip, appeal to younger people." If this is the case then it takes any respect that these two have as journalists and throws it out the window. The two seem like they are trying to be funny because they are told to be funny. The awkward commercial for the show sure made it seem like this could be the case. Not everyone is a comedian, and these two are are from it. A mindset that ESPN seems to have is that their journalists are also entertainers. Just because someone can talk about sports in front of a camera does not mean they could win a season of Last Comic Standing. If ESPN is trying to take Hill and Smith, who are journalists, and turn them into comedians who appeal to a young audience, it is bad instinct by them and demeaning to the hosts.

Finally, Smith and Hill pride themselves that they don't just "stick to sports." This is a good thing, even if the twitterverse tries to tell you that it isn't. However, even when they say they don't just stick to sports it is awkward. It comes off as them thinking they are edgy when they're really not.

If you were hoping for a decent revamp of SportsCenter, The Six will definitely let you down.

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