In the 80s, Magnum PI was one of America’s most popular television shows. It followed a private investigator, Thomas Sullivan Magnum (played by Tom Selleck), who is based in Hawaii and uses his skills to solve crimes. The show ran for 8 seasons with an average viewership of 20 million viewers per week and was rated number 1 program from 1983-1987.
Although it has been over 30 years since the show aired its final episode, many people are still drawn to the charm and mystique that surrounded this iconic TV series. People want to know what made it so successful? What lessons can be learned from its success? This blog post will attempt to answer those questions.
Magnum PI was a character-driven show. The plot is secondary compared to the interactions and relationships between the characters. It was about family, friendship, and loyalty. Magnum lives on-island with a housekeeper and best friend in tow, loyal only to his bar buddies who he’d rather spend time with than his vapid, blonde girlfriend. The most interesting episodes were the ones that revolved around Magnum and his circle of friends rather than a criminal investigation.
In retrospect, it is difficult to pinpoint which element or elements had the biggest impact on viewership success. In a lot of ways, its success can be attributed to many factors working together
Tom Selleck was the perfect person to play Magnum. His charisma and good looks perfectly captured the essence of what viewers were looking for in a crime-fighting protagonist. Tom is 6 feet 4 inches tall – towering above most TV actors, has piercing blue eyes and a dimpled smile that oozed sex appeal. . He is a hard-working, talented actor who has received several accolades during his career.
As the show gained momentum, it was decided that Magnum’s character needed a love interest. Enter “Higgins’s daughter, who is a classic beauty in her own right and becomes a character foil for Magnum to play against. She wears the pants in the relationship which leads to interesting conversations about gender roles.
The show also does an excellent job at presenting strong female characters that are not reliant on male counterparts for strength or validation. In fact, the best episodes are ones where these women are taking control and doing something positive in Magnum’s absence.
The show itself is nothing without a good plot-line to keep viewers coming back each week for another round. Producers used Hawaii as a backdrop, which adds an exotic element that many shows don’t have at their disposal.
As viewers, we can never truly know why a show like Magnum PI was successful. Many people have tried to explain its popularity, but only the writers and producers at the time know what elements they were incorporating to make that happen. However, one thing is certain – it was an iconic show during television’s golden age, and its main character will go down in history as one of the most memorable ones. Do you Agree?