MTV’s new programing chief Susanne Daniels seeks balance in shows

When Susanne Daniels was head of programming for the WB Network, she had a knack for championing both wholesome shows such as “Seventh Heaven” that families could watch together and edgier fare like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dawson’s Creek” that would appeal to teens while making parents nervous.

In her new gig as president of programming for MTV, she will again try to strike that kind of balance.

“I have to take my job as a programmer for teens seriously,” Daniels said in a Monday afternoon interview.


While MTV has less restrictive guidelines regarding content than many other broadcast and cable channels, she said she is not looking to be titillating just to see if it will drive ratings.

“I want to be edgy and I want to be provocative, but I also want to be responsible,” she said, adding that it is important for her shows to have positive role models and be “pro-social.”

Besides creating shows for teens, Daniels is now a mother of two teens and one preteen. She said the biggest change in teens since her time at the WB is the technology that surrounds them, including social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. But she was quick to add that teen angst is still the same.

Daniels, who is succeeding David Janollari has MTV’s top programmer, has spent the bulk of her career in scripted entertainment. While MTV has scripted shows, its bread and butter is reality. Daniels admitted that “Jersey Shore” is not one of her favorite MTV shows but she does have a soft spot for “Teen Mom,” which is a sensitive portrayal of a group of girls who all had children at very early ages.

“That show could have been exploitative and really low brow and instead it has been exactly what everyone intended it to be,” she said.

One of the hopes MTV has for Daniels is that she will come up other shows that can attract female viewers, which was the WB’s sweet spot. That could spell bad news for “Beavis and Butt-head,” the classic cartoon series that MTV brought back last year that was a hit with young boys.

Asked about the fate of “Beavis and Butt-head,” Daniels said, “talk to me in a month.”

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.