So far, so good. Earlier this month, the supernatural drama “Teen Wolf” returned for its second season of troubling transformations, forbidden love and monster attacks. On June 28, the second season of the comedy “Awkward” continues the tale of an endearing but misunderstood 15-year-old girl who experiences school as a social outcast.
“The Inbetweeners” is a comedy that, based on the hit British original, will follow four boys as they navigate the tricky transition from adolescence into adulthood. It’s expected to premiere later this summer. And this fall, MTV plans to introduce “Underemployed,” which tracks five kids graduating into post-collegiate life.
MTV had scripted programming in the past, including the controversial “Skins,” whose so-so ratings and advertiser defections over its depiction of teen sexuality led to its cancellation last year after just one season. “For a number of reasons, ‘Skins’ didn’t completely connect with our audience,” Janollari says. “But what it did for us was plant our stake firmly in the scripted ground: It got people’s attention on many different levels.”
The network’s full-scale leap into scripted series has taken hold since Janollari joined the network two years ago as head of scripted programming. “While we will never run away from our bread-and-butter, which is reality programming, you can’t dabble in the scripted business,” he says. “You have to be very focused and strategic.”
As entertainment president of The WB network, Janollari, 49, was responsible for developing hits such as “Beauty and the Geek” and “Supernatural.” Before that, he co-founded (with Robert Greenblatt, now chairman of NBC Entertainment) The Greenblatt Janollari Studio, an independent production company whose series included “Six Feet Under” and “The Hughleys.” And prior to that, he helped develop series such as “Friends” and “The Drew Carey Show” as comedy development chief at Warner Bros. Television.
Now, at MTV, Janollari is targeting his programming skills at the 12-to-34 demographic -- and even more narrowly, 18-to-24 millennials -- with the mission of reflecting their experiences back to them, with entertainment.
It’s an audience he describes as fickle and sophisticated. “They’re exposed to so much, so they’re smart,” he says. “They’ve been raised to believe that the world is their oyster, so they can have it all.”