Happy One-Year Anniversary to the Sitcom Scorecard! (And How Bridger Came Aboot)

Written Reflecting on One Year Writing for TVRG by Bridger Cunningham
Happy Anniversary, TVRG readers!  I'm taking a departure from the usual third-person delivery and addressing you the viewers directly to give you a view of how I made this series and my writing tenure on TVRG happen.  By forming the Sitcom Scorecard, I cemented a niche in writing midway through the previous season.  And along the way, we lost 12 sitcoms, Friday evenings and were exposed to the good (Young Sheldon), the bad (The Great Indoors), and the just plain ugh! (9JKLet'sBurnThisShowOff).  Before delving into my backstory as a writer, take a peek at the prior cards, week by week.  The Sitcom Scorecard has evolved since that first block of monotonous text!
2016-17 Sitcom Scorecards

Week 20-21 -- January 27 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/01/the-sitcom-explained-by-bridger.html.
Week 22 -- February 8 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/02/2016-17-week-22-sitcom-scorecard.html.
Week 23 -- February 16 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/02/week-23-sitcom-scorecard-nbcs.html.
Week 24 -- February 25 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/02/week-24-sitcom-scorecard-can-our-sitcom.html.
Week 25 -- March 7 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/03/week-25-sitcom-scorecard-slides.html.
Week 26-27 -- March 17 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/03/week-26-27-sitcom-scorecard-happy-hour.html.
Week 28 -- March 22 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/03/week-28-sitcom-scorecard-whos-room-is.html.
Week 29-30 -- April 7 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/04/week-29-30-sitcom-scorecard-silent.html.
Week 31 -- April 15 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/04/week-31-sitcom-ratings-scorecard-abcs.html.
Week 32 -- April 21 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/04/week-32-sitcom-scorecard-save-network_21.html.
Week 33 -- April 28 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/04/week-33-sitcom-scorecard-speak-easy-and.html
Week 34 -- May 4 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/05/week-34-sitcom-scorecard-between-heaven.html
Week 35 -- May 11 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/05/week-35-scorecard-friday-12th-part-iii.html.
Week 36 --May 24 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/05/week-36-sitcom-scorecard-2016-17-night.html,

2017-18 Sitcom Scorecards

Week 1 -- September 30 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/09/2017-18-week-1-sitcom-scorecard-14.html
Week 2 -- October 7 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/10/2017-18-week-2-sitcom-scorecard-big.html
Week 3 -- October 13 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/10/2017-18-week-3-sitcom-scorecard-initial.html
Week 4 -- October 20 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/10/2017-18-week-4-sitcom-scorecard.html
Week 5 -- October 27 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/10/2017-18-week-5-sitcom-scorecard-2017.html
Week 6 -- November 3 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/11/2017-18-week-6-sitcom-scorecard-several.html
Week 7 -- November 11 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/11/week-7-sitcom-scorecard-scheduling.html
Week 8 -- November 18 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/11/2017-18-week-8-sitcom-scorecard-several.html
Week 9-10 -- November 25 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/11/2017-18-week-9-sitcom-scorecard-good.html
Week 11 -- December 10 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/12/2017-18-week-11-sitcom-scorecard-cbs.html
Week 12 -- December 17 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/12/2017-18-week-12-sitcom-scorecard-abc.html
Week 13-14 -- December 22 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2017/12/2017-18-week-13-sitcom-scorecard-mon.html
Week 15 -- January 6 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/01/2017-18-week-15-sitcom-scorecard-2018.html
Week 16 -- January 14 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/01/2017-18-week-15-sitcom-scorecard-2018.html
Week 17 -- January 20 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/01/2017-18-week-17-sitcom-scorecard-more.html
Week 18 -- January 26 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/01/2017-18-week-18-sitcom-scorecard.html
Week 19 -- February 2 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/02/2017-18-week-19-sitcom-scorecard-ap-bio.html
Week 20 -- February 7 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/02/2017-18-week-20-sitcom-scorecard.html
Week 21 -- February 14 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/02/2017-18-week-21-sitcom-scorecard-now-is.html
Week 22-23 -- March 2 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/03/2017-18-week-22-23-sitcom-scorecard.html
Week 24 -- March 9 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/03/2017-18-week-24-sitcom-scorecard.html
Week 25 -- March 17 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/03/2017-18-week-25-sitcom-scorecard-lead.html
Week 26 -- March 22 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/03/2017-18-week-26-scorecard-more-lows.html
Week 27 -- March 31 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/03/2017-18-week-27-sitcom-scorecard.html
Week 28 -- April 8 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/04/2017-18-week-28-sitcom-scorecard-mom.html
Week 29-30 -- April 20 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/04/2017-18-weeks-29-30-sitcom-scorecard.html
Week 31 -- April 29 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/04/2017-18-week-31-sitcom-scorecard-speak.html
Week 32 -- May 4 http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/05/2017-18-week-32-sitcom-scorecard.html

A Little Bit of Background On Life Prior to TVRG
As a brief bit of candid background, many readers have figured out I am likely the oldest author on this site.  Not quite old enough to hit a midlife crisis, but far older than Jessica Boggs, Jonathan  Ducote, Hunter Vogt, Ahmad Uhzufsy and Quincy aka Rebecca Bunch.  I embody their generation and age-group's generation, though I am a late bloomer with writing.  My collegiate background is Urban Planing and Sciences from ASU, and I have held 3 careers in my near 36-years of life.  I finished my "sciences" degree, only to have the economy 10 years ago force me to become a creative tour-de-force with keping a career alive.  I went from a career in Urban Planning to ruin, revived by an innovative career in Telecommunications, to ruin, again as that market in the southwest collapsed.  I pushed on, and my third career was born! 
Within a year, my new career was on firing on all cylinders, and things settled down not only on the economic front of the country, but my own life.  But something was amiss.  I lacked balance.   Work was a smash, and the bills were current.  But a part of my soul lacked -- creativity.  I always wanted to be a writer or painter since youth, but that was always viewed these concepts as fleeting and risky.  To quote a conversation in September 2016, I stated "I just exist right now." Enter a former contributor stirring my life up for better....
Bridger Cunningham Who?
Readers clever to the workings of Google have likely figured out Bridger Cunningham is not my given name, but rather a pen-name.  My actual name is Jeff, though through my writing, I transcend into this world as Bridger.  Given my background in Urban Planning, Bridger is a sturdy name which pays tribute to my former career and passion.  As for Cunningham, am I of English origin?  Only a fraction of chance, as that came from one of my favorite roads in my native Livingston County, Michigan.  Either way, Bridger Cunningham is my creative voice.
How The Sitcom Series Article Formed 
(And a Little History from the Writer)
After another TVRG contributor convinced me to audition my ideas for a sitcom script to the community, I joined here in November 2016.  I peered into the comments and Off Topic sparingly, getting to know the group.  As we discussed various shows, it became evident my interests included sitcom and the state of ABC.  During that season's week 20, another poster remarked The Middle was the 4th highest-rated sitcom on the air, I started questioning how all of the sitcoms stacked against each other.  I referred to a friendly competitor, TV By The Numbers and amassed a compilation of the sitcoms by order.  Someone recommended I write an article, so I composed one and emailed it to the site runner.  He titled it "The Sitcom, Explained by Bridger Cunningham."  
The article received favorable reviews, and I was encouraged to write another article.  I wanted to do deliver a weekly article series of consistent content, as I value continuity and numbers.  As much as I enjoyed my name being showcased, I pondered a more suitable title.  Thus birthing the name "Sitcom Scorecard."
First Season Changes
From A Lot of Words to Lush Colors.  A common problem any artist or writer struggles with is being critical of their own art to self-destructive measures.  I won't take a blade or flame to my body, haha, but rather I am critical of what I produce.  As famed musical legend Linda Ronstadt stated, she refuses to listen to her published songs as she will want to fix or adjust them.  A happy medium for myself is rereading my articles, which were a mountain of text!  I bored myself with too many words.  As a Project Manager, I deploy color-coding my tasks to make my notes worthy.  I carried the same concept into my articles, color-coding networks in consistency with their predicted renewal status in bold.  The eye-popping colored tables broke up the monotonous text!  The format changed and came to the current format in Week 25, with only minor tweaks made the following season.
Forming My Writing Room.  After delving into the art of writing, I struggled to solidify my words and could not figure out where the disconnect came from.  I tried everything from meditating to ... [insert here], to my own in-person Drive-By-Smoo-ings, to flavorful cocktails. I had a second room in my flat which I could not pinpoint a a use for.  It once housed a roommate, storage and finally a blank, unoccupied canvas.  Then, I figured my writing is sensitive to light!  Dreadful fluorescent lights drained my energy, yet red, orange and yellow hues spark creativity.  I grabbed every outlandish man-cave-esque possessions I had, decorated the walls and mounted red and white lights on the trim of the room.  Every time I write now, it is in this room with the lights aglow.  Thank the outlandish premise of this room, as nearly every article I've composed came out of this fantasy-esque room profiled here.
Getting the Ratings Pinpoint Accurate.  Having started this series mid-season, I was challenged with making sure the ratings were accurate.  I had to dig through Spotted Ratings, TVBTN and TV Series Finale to get accurate numbers and manually adjusting.  Yes, manually!  Like my cards, the other phenomenal sites had their own errors.  All leveled out by the season's end, but that made this article series a chore!
Adding the Record Highs, Lows and Seasons.  As this is a ratings website vs. pop/opinionated commentary, I felt having numeric history behind my tables gave them more creed.  It only took a short period of time to track down the oldies, including a 1990 entry from The Simpsons!  Of course, errors came about and the posters corrected the inaccurate data.
Updating the Classifications.  Peer back into Week 21-28, and the names of the classifications changed more than clothing trends.  "Leading the Pack" used to be known as "The Winners" and "Demos in Demand."  While most in that range deserved to be known as "Winners," that range also included CBS' The Great Indoors.  I'll save my sardonic comments, as 9JKL lowered the quality bar the following season.  "The Middle of the Pack" had an annoying tag-along with the word "Respectable."  That word seemed like a backhanded compliment, as that range often included strong pieces like Mom and The Family Guy.  Therefore, I dropped that mildly insulting word.  Later in the season, I added "The Abyss" featuring ratings so islanded from the Anemic classification they needed to be filed out.  Initially known as "Circling the Drain," my harsh words were modified two weeks later as that phrase denoted they were certain to be cancelled.  At least "The Abyss" affords them a chance to survive.
Changing the Renewal Odds.  I followed the lead of the other sites and used such phrases as "Certain Renewal," "Likely Renewal," "Questionable," and "Likely Cancellation." During Week 25, I switched to percentages, affording a cleaner, accurate picture of how different the series were.  I also modified the "stoplight" coloring of the classifications, as the only bold colors were deserving of "RENEWED" or "CANCELLED."  I changed the spectrum like a plant: deeper green was healthy, and other lifeless earthtones depicted decay.  Keeping 100% denoted Certain Renewal, 90% denoted (Almost) Certain Renewal, 80% denoted Likely Renewal (with stronger ratings), 70% for Likely Renewal (moderate/soft ratings), 55% was On The Bubble (Leans Renewal), 45% was On the Bubble (Leans Cancellation), 20% was a Likely Cancellation, and 5% was Certain Cancellation.
Keeping to Serialized Headlines and Themes. Like any great anthology series, my Sitcom Scorecard had to progress and distinguish the events of the season.  I catered to Spring ratings slumps with "Frozen Winters,""Mudslide March" and "Silent Spring."  As the season got down to the wire, my titling/themes took dramatic satire, culminating with "Between Heaven and Hell" as we evaluated the bubble shows and their fight to survive.  The final, frightening theme became "Friday the 12th" as Friday, May 12 was the day most determination were made, and a series killer claimed sitcoms.  The themes made the the ratings more entertaining than the usual "these shows are down," and will likely return in 2018 as the series comes down to the wire.
Becoming an Official Contributor.  Notice delays and potholes in the scheduling?  That is because I was relying on the site founder to post them.  Often, they were prompt and helpful.  Other weeks, I pestered and lobbied to get my articles live.  At the end of April, all of the other site contributors cornered me and made me sign up as an official contributor.  The leap was a commitment, and I never back out of one.  On top of that, my voice can be edgy, crass and has few boundaries.  What if I published something which sank the site!?  Finally, I took the leap, committed and agreed to keep my voice PG-17 for readers.
May's Scary Question: Now What!?  After original programming cleared out, taking my beloved 2 Broke Girls out, I faced that dreadful question of what to do next.  My prowess relies on momentum, a "use it or lose it" complex I have.  Without my weekly anthology, would I be willing to return in the fall?  I contemplated several pieces to write from critical review of sitcoms, praises for sitcom achievements, etc.  But these articles were words, not numbers!  I am a stickler with reporting ratings vs. my straight opinions for this site (though snarky humor traverses both boundaries), so I mined my other penchant, history into my art.  I surprised folks in Week 37 with a historic peak into the sitcoms of 1989-90.  The comments were encouraging, so I continued various pieces.  After readers demanded full-season coverages, I found my summer project to keep my writing spark alight.  The Historic Ratings project kept me busy during a bleak, scorching Phoenix summer this last year, and also helped TVRG stiffen its structure of television history. 
Second Season Changes
Cleaning Up The Table.  During my summer project of bringing Historic Ratings to TVRG, my self-criticism of my work was ongoing, resulting in cleaning up the extra spacing, colors and format.  As The Middle and New Girl declared their final seasons before the network axed them, a purple "FINAL SEASON" label debuted for accuracy.  I utilized Excel formulas to make data entry accurate, cutting down production time.  I also implemented a new rule to the text, discussing weekly changes in the opening body and leaving opinions and commentary for the closing paragraphs.  Part of keeping my writing momentum going is continually improving and innovating, and keeping the material fresh and appealing for all of you.
Keeping Reporting Timely.  One of my greatest regrets during the first season's reporting was the inconsistent posting schedule I exhibited.  Articles would turn up in 5 days, or wait 14.  Becoming an official contributor enabled timely reporting on Saturdays, and I stuck to Saturday posts to capute ABC's Last Man Standing and Dr. Ken (sigh).  In their absence, I felt I may comfortably report ratings on Fridays.  That became a daunting task after a full work week, so I reverted to weekends.  Either way, I keep the ratings reported in a consistent manner and only instigate breaks by choice.
Taking Necessary Breaks.  Burnout can strike the best of us, whether we are artists or not.  Site Founder TVRatingsJunkie posted a pie chart featuring percentages by writer.  Save for two outlandish months in July and September which were inflated, my writing pallet increased over the year.  On top of that, my daytime gig as a Project Manager experienced a life changer in August as my company announced a merger.  Add these ingredients together, and I contemplated throwing in the towel many times in November and December on the Sitcom Scorecard.  I came to realize I have been operating full throttle for most of 2017.  
I took a necessary one-week break in early December as not only was there a scarcity of original sitcoms to discuss, but the series became a chore vs. a joy.  The week off brought me back invigorated in my writing.  Given I am quirky, outlandish and have a healthy dose of ADD, the only way I mastered becoming a detail-oriented Project Manager in my career is by mildly switching up my routine.  The same goes for this article series, which will engage in weeks off like the sitcoms we all love.  These breaks are necessary to keep my wit sharp and hopefully keep this Sitcom Scorecard going into the 2018-19 season. 
What is to Come
I plan on keeping the Sitcom Scorecard intact well into the future.  I can commit to you my readers I will be here for the season remains at the least.  And hope to continue on, as this season's increased numbers of produced sitcoms are encouraging that the genre is experiencing another great uptick.  Join me every week, as I enjoy writing these articles as much as delivering you a dose of my outlandish, snarky and crass humor.
Enjoy these entries in this compilation?  They are a part of TVRG's Ratings History feature, which houses other articles similar in nature at this link: TVRG Ratings Library

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