3 Reasons Why T.J. Holmes’ ‘Don’t Sleep’ Went To Sleep

Earlier this month, BET announced that “Don’t Sleep” has been cancelled. Like many, I wasn’t surprised by the news. When the format changes started and the show was inexplicably snatched off the air I knew that show’s days were numbered. I have been following this story for about a week now and made sure I paid attention to people’s reactions to the cancellation. As I expected, people resurrected the “BET doesn’t care about the community and da knee grows only like coonery” argument. While that view has its validity, I think it flat out ignores some of Don’t Sleep‘s glaring issues. The ratings weren’t there but I don’t think that is something that can be blamed on the YOLO generation. Here are a few reasons I think the show failed:


The time slot was horrible
The show was broadcasted four days a week at 11 p.m. I assume that slot was chosen to eliminate competition but it ended up eliminating ratings. It was too damn late. I liked the idea of the show and tried to make an effort to watch it but I usually ended up falling asleep before it came on.
It was too short!
The show was largely discussion based and although the discussions were interesting they tended to be superficial. I blame that on the show only being 30 minutes long. That included a slew of commercials and a few segments such as Issa Rae’s ratchet reports. That meant viewers might have been able to see about 15 minutes of discussion. The show’s length might have worked if the topics themselves were of a superficial nature but the panelists weren’t discussing Kim Kardashian’s latest trophy man or Blue Ivy’s first perm. They were discussing issues like gay marriage, the prison industrial complex and voter suppression. Those topics aren’t something that can be discussed in 15 minutes. Not to mention, TJ Holmes brought on some opinionated panelists that included people like Al Sharpton and ole Al isn’t a 15 minute type of person. BET eventually caught on and tried to make Don’t Sleep a weekly hour-long show but it was too little too late.
TJ Holmes isn’t Steven Colbert or John Stewart
When the show was announced and promotion began, the way it was advertises was sketchy.

It was described as “a fresh new voice joining the ranks of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and Bill Maher. T.J. Holmes gives you a good reason to stay up late. With hilarious “correspondents,” T.J.’s sure to have viewers rolling with laughter over the absurdity of today’s hot-button issues.”

I got a bit worried when I heard that because having seen TJ’s work, on television and in person, he didn’t strike me as that type. Watching the show confirmed my opinion. While T.J. definitely has an outgoing personality, he isn’t a comedian. Sure, he might be naturally funny but calculated humor isn’t his thing. On the show, he would make jokes and barbs while trying to inject a little message into it and it just fell flat. T.J., honey, stick to what you know.

The show had potential and I don’t think it should be scrapped completely. It could be turned into something great with a bit of reworking. Maybe a webshow? Just a thought.
What do you think about the cancellation of Don’t Sleep? Did you watch the show? Leave a comment!

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4 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why T.J. Holmes’ ‘Don’t Sleep’ Went To Sleep

  1. VC says:

    Great points. I was disappointed about its cancellation. I actually enjoyed watching it, but like yourself, the time slot was a tad too late for me. I’d often doze off during the show or wouldn’t be totally focused.

    The discussions were engaging, but they were definitely too short! Edifying discussions need to be allowed much more time than that.

  2. Jeff Winbush says:

    BET has been a second-class, third-rate, dead zone on the cable line-up for so long it’s hard to remember when it was worth watching. Viacom’s purchase of the network from Bob Johnson has not moved the needle one inch toward making BET a quality network. I never had a chance to watch Holmes’ show, but I’m not surprised it went toes-up so quickly. There’s no commitment to quality programming at BET and certainly no patience to develop it.

    But now there’s 30 more minutes every night to be filled up with “Martin” and “Living Single” reruns. Oh, joy.

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