Why Trump May Hurt TV's New Patriotic Dramas Overseas

SEAL Team Still David Boreanaz - Photo-Illustration - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Cliff Lipson/CBS (Boreanaz)

"Rah rah America" shows are a hot trend stateside, but foreign TV buyers might not jump on board: "If you want escapism, it's the wrong thing."

A week after the broadcast networks peddled their new fall programming to advertisers in New York, the studios that produce them did the same for some 1,600 international buyers at the global confab known as L.A. Screenings. While a crop of down-the-middle procedurals and reboots excited foreign programmers most, the influx of military dramas, including NBC's The Brave, CBS' SEAL Team and The CW's Valor, left them lukewarm.

"If you want escapism, it's the wrong thing," says Rudiger Boss, head of acquisitions at Germany's free TV network ProSiebenSat.1. Sky U.K.'s head of series acquisitions Lucy Criddle offers a more optimistic take: "They can play well, even if they're very American — they just have to have some sort of international twist."

In the case of SEAL Team, for example, CBS Studios International CEO Armando Nunez is touting its family elements and the international cachet of Bones star David Boreanaz to help it sell globally. And according to Boss, it's a sound pitch: "If they make it emotional, it's also about the story behind the gun."

Of course, not every studio has a flag-waving drama — or as Gina Brogi, president of global distribution at 20th Century Fox TV Distribution, says, a "rah-rah America" show — on tap. And as far as Brogi is concerned, not having one on her slate is a relief. "There was a time where shows touting the might of the American military were popular and might have done well internationally," she says, before adding of Donald Trump, "but I think with today's political environment, it just depends on the country."

This story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.