Buffy and Dawson may be the cool kids at the WB, but the upstart network has one series wallflower it can count on to pull in solid ratings. Last week, ”7th Heaven” was the top-rated show on the WB, coming in 68th place overall, ahead of ”Dawson’s Creek” (88th), ”Charmed” (98th), and even the newly shorn ”Felicity” (99th). Surprised? You’re not alone. ”We just don’t get much hype,” says star Beverley Mitchell. ”It’s frustrating knowing it could be so much more if we had the publicity, but we don’t.”
Apparently a show about a minister’s clean-cut brood just isn’t sexy enough to attract media play — and the strong ratings have lulled the network into complacency. ”They say, ‘Why do we need to advertise a show that’s already successful? Why don’t we help the ones that are in need?”’ explains Mitchell. ”I guess that’s true, but when you drive around and see everyone else’s billboard, it’s hard.”
It’s not that the network doesn’t have new plotlines to plug. ”My character grows up this season,” says the 18-year-old Mitchell. ”She starts realizing there’s more to life than just being self-absorbed, and she starts reaching out to the community. And she feels so good about herself on the inside that she creates a new look and gets sexier. She’s been a young, naive girl for the last four years, so it’s about time for her to realize what life’s about.”
Okay, that’s not quite as hot and heavy as Ben versus Noel, but the show’s often difficult themes — ranging from gun control to teen suicide — bring in a demographic Felicity and her pals can only dream of. ”Parents can actually trust our content,” says Mitchell. ”I get letters from fans saying, ‘We all get together as a family to watch, and then we have discussions afterwards. This show pulls our family together.”’ Now if only Mitchell could slay a few vampires, studio heads might finally give her a billboard.