NCIS is still tops in the television ratings game. However, the truth is a lot of people have never even seen the show. That prompted one E! fan to pose a couple of questions. The first is "why is the show popular"? The second is, "who watches it"? Here's the answer to both.
Starting with the second question first might explain a lot. The little show that could, and still does, is somewhat of an anomaly. Unlike most highly rated shows on TV, its audience doesn't fall in the key demographic of 18 to 45 years of age. The average age of the military show's audience is around 55.
While that audience isn't as big demographically, it is very loyal. They tune into the show regularly, even watching the reruns over and over again.
As for its popularity, that requires a more complex answer. Much of it has to do with the actors themselves. Mark Harmon leads the team and, silver-haired or not, he's still got massive sex appeal, not to mention that he can act on par with just about any actor in Hollywood.
Then there's the adorably odd Pauley Perrette as Abby. Goth or not, she's just too cute to ignore. She's young, fresh, energetic, hip and even sexy in her own unusual way. She's also incredibly loyal, highly intuitive, smart, compassionate and sweet. She's like no other character on TV today.
Next, there's the seething undercurrent of sexual tension between two of the NCIS team's agents, Tony and Ziva (Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo). It's palpable.
Finally, there's the team itself. It consists of a group of highly skilled actors who make every moment feel "real". They run like a well-oiled machine, drawing the audience into the story, delivering comic relief, building drama and delivering the payoff. Through it all, they play characters the audience cares about. That, in turn, keeps them coming back week after week, without fail.
Something else helps keep the show on top. Solid writing and a constant willingness to change. The writing for this show is top-notch. It never disappoints. Neither do the producers. They bring in new talent, heavy-duty guest stars and even risk killing off popular show characters to keep a level of authenticity.
A good example, is the recent casting of Jamie Lee Curtis. She often bugs Harmon's Gibbs character because of her secretive government mind games. On the other hand, she also challenges him in a way no woman's done in a long time. Consequently, they sizzle on-screen.
Finally, a lot of Americans still appreciate the sacrifices that military men and women make so they stay free. For that reason, they don't like anyone or anything that might endanger or hurt any branch of the military. NCIS is a protective organization that strives to keep things up right and America strong. That is also very appealing, especially to the over 55 crowd.
It's not a single thing that makes the show great. It is combination of these puzzle pieces that fit together to weave a mesmerizing tapestry and an entertaining show.