dumb down, to

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dumb down

1. To cause something to be less complex, nuanced, or intellectually challenging, typically in order to make the content more appealing or accessible to a wider audience. A noun or pronoun can be used between "dumb" and "down." The first film was a real exploration of the human psyche, but they dumbed down the second film into a generic horror film. I think there are ways we can make the story resonate with the audience without dumbing it down.
2. To change a fictional character, as in a TV show or film series, to be or seem less intelligent than depicted previously. A noun or pronoun can be used between "dumb" and "down." They dumbed his character down in later seasons, turning him into a total goofball for cheap laughs.
See also: down, dumb
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dumb down

v. Slang
To simplify something excessively in order to make it suitable for a less educated or less sophisticated audience: The researchers dumbed down the report before releasing it to the public.
See also: down, dumb
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

dumb down, to

To simplify or otherwise revise in order to appeal to someone of less education, taste, or intelligence. This slangy expression dates from the first half of the 1900s. Publishers Weekly used it in a review of The Business of Books by André Schiffrin: “. . . the attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste, which has, he says, led network television and movies in such depressing directions, has dumbed down publishing to an alarming degree” (Aug. 21, 2000).
See also: dumb
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
But what I could have predicted was the total ineptitude of the BBC in trying to dumb down one of the biggest, most historic, most majestic events this century.
"There was some suggestion that when tariffs first came in one of the weapons racecourses used was to dumb down," he added.
I don't feel that for the sake of the extra money they are going to dumb down. If they dumb down and get good attendances and good entries then perhaps there is a demand for lower-class racing on a Sunday, but the market place will find its own level."
The first step was to dumb down the public' enough that the language of George Bush would actually sound plausible, a task now largely accomplished by television in general and Fox News in particular.
But is that a good enough reason to dumb down further by abandoning our second city?
It sounds suspiciously like the Natural History Unit has been told to dumb down.
'I thought you'd either have to dumb down because they're children, in which case it wouldn't be Mastermind.
I've been told I have not to dumb down. I've been in too many silly pictures."
Television, it goes without saying, has been a leader of the race to dumb down, but even this frequently reckless medium managed to plunge to new levels in recent days.