How Behind-the-Scenes Drama Influences How We Watch TV

Whether you want a feel-good escape from reality or to embroil yourself in drama you would never experience in your daily life, TV has got you covered.

But what happens when the world you see onscreen is overshadowed by what’s going on behind the cameras?

If you’ve ever had a favorite show hit by scandal, you might have noticed it affected how you watched the show — for better or worse.

The Curious Case of Queer Eye Season 8

Typically, when a new season of Queer Eye drops on Netflix, I’m on it like Antoni Porowski on the weird food in someone’s fridge. But when Season 8 premiered on Netflix on January 24, the urge to binge was missing. So was the spark.

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Season 8 felt awkward and forced as I plodded through the short six-episode season. For the first time in my Queer Eye-watching history, which dates back to the release date of Season 1, I didn’t shed a single tear. I felt distracted.

In November of last year, we first learned that Bobby Berk, interior design expert, would not be returning after Season 8 wrapped.

As it does, the internet went wild with speculation. Some eagle-eyed fans noticed Bobby had unfollowed fellow castmate Tan France on Instagram, and the rumor mill ran with it. Was this why Bobby was leaving?

With the rumors of a rift swirling in the back of my mind, I scrutinized every interaction between the two.

Instead of watching the heroes’ lives, hair, houses, and wardrobes transform before my eyes, I was laser-focused on the cast interactions.

Was that a “look” he just gave him, or am I imagining things? Does there seem to be a lot less Bobby this season, or has he always been in the background more than his costars?

And where do the loyalties of the rest of the cast lie?

The behind-the-scenes drama was turning this show from wholesome to tiresome. I wanted to care about Season 8’s heroes, but I was constantly taken out of the moment.

It seems that knowing the cast weren’t best friends forever and ever was coloring how I saw the interactions not only between the cast members but with the heroes as well.

I had to wonder: does this happen to other shows with behind-the-scenes misadventures?

It depends. The drama only ruined Queer Eye because I didn’t expect this kind of behavior from the seemingly sweet and supportive cast.

What about other shows with issues behind the scenes?

When Drama Builds Anticipation

Let’s take a look at Yellowstone, the antithesis of Queer Eye. Where Queer Eye’s cast is lovable, helpful, and caring, the characters on Yellowstone are conniving, angry, and flawed.

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These shows are night and day, but they share one common thread — they’ve both had a lot of behind-the-scenes drama in the news recently.

The difference is that the issues circling Queer Eye dampened interest in the show, while the problems behind Yellowstone have only fueled impatience for the last half of Yellowstone Season 5.

In February of last year, rumors surfaced that Kevin Costner would not return for the remaining episodes of Season 5 due to creative differences and pay issues.

Later in the year, Taylor Sheridon, the show’s creator, sued Yellowstone star Cole Hauser’s coffee company for trademark infringement.

This drama is a whole lot uglier than Bobby quietly unfollowing Tan on Instagram, and yet it doesn’t make me want to drop Yellowstone from my watchlist.

Perhaps it’s because I expect drama from Yellowstone. The show has built a world where underhanded deeds are the norm, and it’s not abnormal to see people breaking promises or calling each other out on their issues.

The first half of Season 5 saw one character murdering his biological father — the real-life creative differences and legal issues plaguing the cast are mild by comparison.

The Drama Should Enhance the Moment, Not Ruin It

It all comes down to the style of the show and the type of behind-the-scenes drama.

Widely acknowledged rumors of cast infighting and bullying on the set of Desperate Housewives didn’t harm its watchability because the characters also bullied one another.

However, rumors of bullying on Glee made it hard to support the characters we were supposed to root for.

The feud between Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker made Samantha Jones’ cameo in Season 2 of And Just Like That… widely anticipated, while Chevy Chase’s feuds with his Community costars made later seasons of the show hard to watch.

The infamous “Scandoval” of Vanderpump Rules Season 10 delivered a massive bump in viewership for Season 11.

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We’re talking millions of new viewers. For a drama-centric reality show, scandal was not only encouraged; it was expected.

When Scandal Goes Too Far

Sometimes, beloved shows face a scandal so grave the only solution is to axe a character entirely to avoid a ratings loss.

When Isaiah Washington used a homophobic slur against a costar in the earlier days of Grey’s Anatomy, it was necessary to write Washington out of the show or face backlash.

Similarly, serious abuse allegations against Kevin Spacey meant he needed to be fired from House of Cards to keep viewers interested.

When people put in long days together on a TV set, there’s bound to be a little drama. If we’re watching because we crave the tension, behind-the-scenes shenanigans can help us get excited about a show.

But when we expect more from our TV shows, the drama can lead to disappointment.

How does behind-the-scenes chaos make you feel about your favorite shows?

Does it make you want to turn the TV off, or are you itching for more? Let us know in the comments.

Shela Ward is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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