The today I read that their season 5 premier is down 28% from season 4. Most of the blame seems to be aimed for patriarch Phil's unseemly comments about homosexuality and the treatment of blacks in the deep south during his youth.
I doubt that made much of a difference to their hard core fans. I think the real reason is the curiosity factor is fading. The shows are predictable and the characters so unsightly that you can almost imagine how they smell. It's good for a guffaw and a shake of the head but as a regular diet - eh.
Maybe it's me and my lack of an attention span. I only lasted through a couple of seasons of Desperate Housewives before the characters turned from amusing if dysfunctional to silly bordering on ludicrous.
Even the phenomenally popular Downton Abbey has lost me. I'd have been happy if it had ended with the episode about the cricket match. Matthew was still alive. Mary was happy. Bates and Anna were together and happy. Matthew hadn't yet succeeded in running off Edith's suitor. Branson was settling into life with a daughter and without a wife. The matriarchs behaved and the service staff had called a truce of sorts to accommodate Robert's desire to win the match. It was the perfect place to end it.
But no, there was talk of it going on for as many as ten seasons. What could they possibly do to make this crowd riveting? They reached. And when I found out the step they took I vowed out. You'll see it this week if you don't already know. The whole premise ruined the series for me with the utter lack of necessity. When they have to stoop to sensationalism and tawdriness then their imaginations have ground to a halt and so should the series. It probably will. Now the talk is that season 5 may well be the last. That will make two seasons too many.
What to watch then? From what I've been seeing it seems that reading might be a better alternative. With all the political pundits and their counterparts in government writing books there's a good selection of fiction to be found. And when you finish the book, it's finished.