Audiences expect spicy and sometimes dark narratives, but because the networks are still in the business of not offending mass audiences, they cannot even grab a hit when it comes lurching through the door.

What's the logic here? Why cannot audience grab a hit? And who is lurching through the door? I am very confused.

3 Answers 3


It is not the audiences that “cannot grab a hit”, but the broadcast networks. (In that New York Times article, the sentence before your quote is “Think about the box that the broadcast networks are in.”) In the U.S. at least, “over-the-air” broadcast networks – using FCC-controlled portions of the electromagnetic spectrum – are subject to more-restrictive standards than are cable networks. (1, 2). As such, they are “in the business of not offending mass audiences”. “They cannot even grab a hit when it comes lurching through the door” means that they cannot sign up a show about zombies that, for example, shows “a pack of zombies ... lustily feasting on human innards”. Zombies often are portrayed as lurching about as they walk. To lurch is “To make such a sudden, unsteady movement”.

  • Thank you for answering. Now I am confused with another sentence in this article.**Being a cable network, it’s clear, is less of a disadvantage than it used to be, as broadcast networks become just one more click on a seemingly infinite dial.** “over-the-air” broadcast networks are not “over-the-air” anymore? Now they are on dial?
    – Kaili
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 4:53
  • @Kaili, although broadcast networks are allocated broadcast spectrum, they typically are also carried by cable network providers, and for a large percentage of viewers are just another channel that can be selected. In this context, a dial is a rotary selector; until a few decades ago, many TV's had rotary selector dials. Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 4:58
  • ,Thank you for responding to my questions so quickly. You have been very helpful!
    – Kaili
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 5:05

This basically means:

Since the networks are trying to be careful, they don't buy a hit show when one (hit show) is brought to them.

"Grab a hit" is referring to the networks buying a great show.

The audience wants an exciting show, but the networks are trying so hard not to offend anyone that the network won't take a chance on a show that will (probably) be a big success.


"Hit" refers to a "hit show."

The sentence means that even if a potential "hit show" idea came "lurching" or "charging through the door" (so to speak), the networks would not be capable of "grabbing" or using it.

That's because their desire not to offend people has made them too timid to recognize an opportunity that "knocks on the door."

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