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I would simply argue that concessions away from realism in "realistic" titles exist in video games because a mouse and keyboard is a poor substitute for your body and a monitor is a poor substitute for your eyes.
Once we have more "immersive" input/output hardware, the lines between reality and the game world will become blurry.
What they really need to do is tell good stories with believable characters. Create a good show and a fan base will follow. Go back to the fundamentals.
The reason the network does poorly is because most of it's original programming is garbage.