Brian Graden, the mastermind behind a bevy of MTV's powerhouse reality shows, is stepping down after 13 years at Viacom. As President of Entertainment, he was responsible for TRL, Jackass, The Osbournes, The Hills, Pimp My Ride and America's Best Dance Crew. He also brought Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park to Comedy Central, another staple of Viacom, and created Logo, the first gay channel. His contract runs out in December and, because of Viacom's decreased revenue and a hefty payout, he saw no reason to stay.
So, the big question is, will MTV change? Whether we like it or not, this guy had a huge influence on pop culture because he understood how to unite the many niches of teenage culture under a single, appealing brand. He made a talentless oaf like Carson Daly relevant, a pair of idiots like Speidi popular and a fool like Johnny Knoxville rich. But it's not the personalities he presented to society, it's the subject matter he ambushed us with. TRL breathed new life into MTV's old music video format and allowed fans to interact with celebrities and choose the direction of the show. The Osbournes played into the hands of human curiosity -- who wouldn't want to watch a show about Ozzy and family, given the option? And Pimp My Ride is just plain fun. It's fantasy-fulfilling and easy to digest.
Problem is, most of these shows weren't built to last. People are (and will continue to grow) tired of Heidi and Spencer. Pimp My Ride can only pimp so many rides before the pimping becomes redundant (replace "pimp" with "makeover" and "straight guy" with "ride" and you've got the same downfall of Queer Eye). MTV has stated that his spot won't be filled. Without a mind like this to keep the target audience young and hip, which is MTV's intention, will the network age ungracefully? Will we see the Pratts move from mansion to nursing home? Will the programming lose its addictive, mindless appeal? Hopefully not. That's what made his shows so great. One thing's for sure, though: Heidi and Spencer need to take a leave of absence.