For those of you coming for the Chapter By Chapter review I’m moving it to tomorrow. This is breaking news and while slightly off-topic for this site I still find it interesting enough that something should be said.
So as you can tell from the above tweet, Comcast has decided to end it’s nearly year-long experiment with the revival of G4. Thanks to Deadline Hollywood posting an acquired memo before it could reach all of the staff because getting that scoop is more important than compassion for all the people about to lose their jobs, some of the staff and talent saw the article before the memo hit their email or was handed to them at the start of their work day. I saw a tweet from one guy who was flying home for his father’s funeral when this hit social media. So I’m not linking to it or the Variety article that came out at the same time because screw you, scoop hunters with no compassion for the people whose lives were just damaged if not ruined by how this news was release. It wasn’t even G4’s fault that this leak occurred and it was a jerk move not to wait at least until work day Monday.
You know what WAS G4’s fault though? The reason it ended. No, not necessarily “that rant”, though to say it didn’t play a part would be incorrect. However, it wasn’t the rant itself that ruined G4 but the aftermath that opened eyes to the current state of the channel. For context I already wrote an article when it was announced asking if we need another G4 and one after the Frosk rant was dissected by Midnight’s Edge and again after the response by G4. Check those out because I’ll be referring to stuff in minor detail that I went over in greater detail there. (In fact the rant aftermath post got a lot of hits in the stats after the news dropped.) This is sort of a wrap-up of events…because G4 is wrapping up.
Let’s start with the big question: did the infamous “Frosk Rant” cause the death of the network. On its own, no. While commentary writers and YouTubers are pointing heavily to this all the Rant did was expose some of G4’s flaws by pulling the nostalgia glasses off completely and making fans more sensitive or at least aware of the political opinions of the hosts and how they were expressed, most notably Frost herself but also Adam Sessler posting on Twitter about how he wanted Republican family members to die horribly, losing him a lot of fans even among Democrats and any liberal that was remotely right of far-left. You don’t trash your own family unless they’re the literal Antichrist or a happy minion of same no matter how strongly you disagree with them. It’s just not good. If you’re momma didn’t beat you on the regular and dad never touched you inappropriate (or the reverse on both ends) you don’t wish for their eternal torment and think you’re a boss. That’s all I have to say on that.
As for Frosk’s actions I already discussed my thoughts on her Rant. The short version is while it is wrong to slam a woman host for not being “bangable” (like I couldn’t find you a bunch of dudes who would go for her), acting like that was the only reason she was getting put down was dodging any concerns about her performance. It was also wrong to dismiss her and the other hosts because they weren’t Adam, Morgan, Kevin, and Olivia. They should have been given a chance. Sessler and Pereira had even left their shows during the classic G4 days to pursue other projects. Kevin Pereira started his own production company while Adam Sessler went freelance or something before joining up with YouTube channel Revision3 before it collapsed. Kevin had other goals and Sessler wanted more freedom for his reviews and probably less hours given how hard it is to a daily video game review show, especially in the busy season when ALL the games come out. More on that in a moment.
However, G4 was selling itself on the nostalgia of G4, and for fans of the network and specifically X-Play and Attack Of The Show that was the teams of Adam Sessler & Morgan Webb and Kevin Pereira & Oliva Munn. They weren’t even the first teams. AOTS when I started watching had Kevin working with Sara Lane and Kevin Moran. Meanwhile Sessler was the host of Extended Play on the pre-G4 Tech TV, and even that with a quick look on Wikipedia shows a history before that when Tech TV was ZDTV and the show was Gamespot TV where Sessler had other hosts. Webb wasn’t even his first co-host either. And yet the quartet of Sessler, Webb, Pereira, and Munn were the ones that most hooked the audience, had the best chemistry not only on their respective shows but at group events like the E3 coverage and Comic-Con, and even in crossovers between the two shows. So getting new hosts in to these nostalgic viewers, even with Sessler and Pereira back, were already in trouble.
Meanwhile G4 was a pale imitation of the former network…or at least the gaming years. Before G4 classic died they had moved away from geek culture, gaming, and technology that came from G4’s merger with Tech TV. Reruns of Cops and Cheaters, “Movies For Guys Who Like Movies” (basically action movies censored for television with ad breaks), and even AOTS news segments pulling away from geekier offerings while trying to be all hip and for guys had earned the network the label “Spike TV lite” by fans, when The former Nashville Network had rebranded to the National Network and then “guys TV” channel Spike TV. Now they’re the Paramount Network but back then “Spike TV lite” was a complaint by G4’s former target audience.
So here comes the relaunched G4, and people were asking if it was needed. The “Spike TV lite” stuff was already being handled elsewhere but even the prominent programming of G4’s geek days were already being handled elsewhere. X-Play may have more reviews per day but in the old days it was fine that Adam, Morgan, and their various predecessors and replacements were essentially reading off other reviews because you only have so much time to get the review out. Nowadays with Twitch and YouTube gaming people can see the games in real time to see if they want to play it. Let’s plays that aren’t live is another way, while Pluto TV (who has a G4 Select channel that doesn’t share a schedule with the network my cable company just added a few weeks ago) and other livestreaming sites have dedicated channels for video game play. Minecraft has a dedicated Pluto TV channel all to itself as does Fortnite. G4 can’t compete with these and if you have to wait a week to get a review by the actual player of the game, whether that includes skits or not, they’re willing to wait. The early adopters already have their copy and have rolled their dice.
Meanwhile the only other shows G4 brought back where the Japanese obstacle course game shows Ninja Warrior (where the American franchise truly began, a subtitle of the shows Sasuke and Kunoichi, aka Women Of Ninja Warrior) and Unbeatable Banzuke (the same for Kinniku Banzuke before too many injuries as the courses were upgraded forced the show to end). Cinematech was a show that had trailers for games and clips from cutscenes, all of which were now readily available on YouTube and other hosting channels. Icons was a documentary about gaming creators, which the likes of Gaming Historian and others have covered. As for the new shows, many of whom starred people already famous on YouTube like Austin Show, Jirard The Completionist, and Scott The Woz, they weren’t exactly being given a bigger budget and neither were new shows, while AOTS and X-Play had altered their formats. When The Rant was dropped, followed by their overcorrecting response (Frosk was only let go after an unintentionally inappropriate response to her critics during layoffs when she came off as unfeeling to the departing staffers’ situation) didn’t help any. G4 came out of the gate weak for a TV network, and ultimately the flaws were becoming more and more apparent.
As I was writing this G4 finally shared the memo but by then it was too late. Deadline already dropped it early to get that scoop and ruined a lot of people’s day. Staff hearing about their firing over social media rather than their bosses wasn’t G4’s fault but the station was doomed to failure without Frosk’s Rant. At most it sped things up as G4 told anyone who didn’t like the rant that painted all critics as just wanting T&A (followed up by overcorrecting with T&A which drove the insult further in) to not watch, and they didn’t. The few that remained got low-budget shows, returning shows outside of the Japanese game shows that I hope find a new home the same way I hope the staff find new jobs, and told they were terrible for not loving the new G4. All of the leadership changes and lay-offs couldn’t save a network that was doomed before they pressed start, and actions by the talent just quickened their demise. Had G4 not gone off the air, not turned into “Spike TV lite”, and managed to evolve with the changes in geek and gaming culture as well as modern media, G4TV may have been a cornerstone of that culture. Instead they killed themselves, relaunched as a shadow of their former selves, and then killed themselves again. Time passed them by and not being prepared for the new media landscape while failing to recapture their previous magic is what led to the end of the network.
When the relaunch was announced I questioned if they were needed. When they made a huge mistake and just kept making it there were already issues. The saddest part is there was a time when people were sad G4 ended. Some of those same people are now happy new G4 ended, a former icon reduced to a footnote by their own failures. They only have themselves to blame ultimately. Comcast did a poor job bringing this back, the network had a lot of issues, and it’s the staff and people who wanted to make content for G4 (whatever we think of them or their work) who pay the price.