On Tuesday night, E! debuted Citizen Rose, a five-part documentary series starring actress Rose McGowan, one of the most vocal advocates for the #MeToo movement since Harvey Weinstein's downfall in October.

She alleges he raped her in 1997 (he denies it), and the series promises to reveal what happens when she goes "up against the Hollywood machine".

McGowan's show, which she was working on before the Weinstein allegations became public, is the first of its kind as the entertainment industry grapples with handling the recent flood of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful figures.

While scripted television such as Law & Order: SVU plans a Weinstein-inspired episode and late-night talk shows take serious turns to discuss accusations with their guests, it seems natural the nonfiction TV world would jump to produce content about a timely topic.


However, this week at the RealScreen Summit reality-TV conference in Washington, some production company executives were sceptical about the future of nonfiction programming that looked at the reckoning surrounding sexual harassment.

"In terms of pitches that you're seeing ... are you seeing anything that somehow reflective of this movement?" moderator Nicole Page, a New York-based attorney, asked the panel of executives and TV producers. "Are people talking about it in terms of content at all?"

There was a pause.

"I think it's hard. We've had our development team voice that we would like to do more female programming in different ways than we've seen before, but obviously we're all kind of catering to what the audience wants," said Laura Palumbo Johnson, co-owner of Magilla Entertainment.

"But as we have these conversations and the collective mind-set shifts a bit, I think ... those opportunities will open up and content will change more."

In other words, even though #MeToo has become enough of a movement that "silence-breakers" were Time's Person of the Year, if there's a sense many viewers have little desire for programming about it, creators will stay away.

Jenny Daly, a former vice-president of development at E! and founder of production company T Group, said she was curious to see how McGowan's show fared; she had seen few networks express interest in exploring similar subjects. After all, she said, many channels marketed to non-coastal viewers (or as she put it, people in "a Trump kind of environment") who might not be as interested.

"I know when I've brought up other programming like that to speak to networks, (the reaction) has been 'It won't appeal to our middle America audience'," Daly said.

Daly theorised part of the problem might be that #MeToo, in which people shared stories of sexual harassment, wasn't an "equal opportunity movement" — while it had hit hard in the media and entertainment industries, it had not had such an impact in other places.

She said: "It almost sounds like the networks who are programming to 'not the coasts' are really going to shy away from this, because it's not really — it hasn't touched it there as much, maybe."