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UPN, short for United Paramount Network, was the only nationwide television network to result from a drunken bar bet.

During a three-martini lunch in a Hollywood sports bar in 1995, a golfing buddy reportedly bet the CEO of Viacom five bucks that he couldn't create a successful TV network catering only to nerds and ethnic minorities. Always in need of an extra five bucks, the CEO agreed, and UPN was launched that fall to widespread derision and disbelief.

With the latest lamentable incarnation of the long-running Star Trek franchise, Star Trek: Voyager, as its flagship show, UPN boldly soldiered forth with a demographically incongruous blend of professional wrestling and sitcoms featuring primarily African-American casts. (The commendable diversity showcased on these series, and their addressing of the shameful lack of valid roles for minority actors on network television, was almost immediately cancelled out by their complete lack of anything resembling actual humor.)

In 2004, with ratings for Star Trek: Enterprise floundering, and America's Next Top Model standing as the only even remotely successful program on the network, UPN president Dawn Ostroff decided to sneak a few actually watchable shows onto the lineup, just to see if anyone was paying attention. The arrival of Everybody Hates Chris and Veronica Mars, though initially dismissed as a far-fetched urban legend, was deservedly hailed by television critics and largely ignored by the general public.

In fall 2006, UPN merged with The WB to form The CW, handily consolidating all of network television's least-watched programs in one convenient location.

At last report, Viacom's CEO still hadn't gotten his five bucks.

Notable ShowsEdit

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