2:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Sweet/Vicious' on Bubble as MTV Cancels Two Comedies
MTV, newly identified as one of Viacom's six core brands, is taking a step back from scripted — at least for now.
The Viacom-owned cable network has opted to cancel first-year comedies Mary + Jane and Loosely Exactly Nicole, MTV president Chris McCarthy tells The Hollywood Reporter. Remaining on the bubble, meanwhile, is critically praised drama Sweet/Vicious. All three were developed under MTV's previous leadership team. The cancellations mean MTV's roster of scripted originals does not include a single comedy.
Marijuana-themed comedy Mary + Jane, produced by Snoop Dogg, Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, starred Jessica Rothe and Scout Durwood. The series launched in September to 450,000 total viewers and wrapped its 10-episode run in November with just 360,000.
Loosely Exactly Nicole is a family comedy inspired by the life and comedy of Nicole Byer, who moved to MTV following a strong run on MTV2's Girl Code. The series also launched in September — drawing just 360,000 total viewers and before wrapping quietly in October with under 150,000 viewers.
Sweet/Vicious, meanwhile, bowed to strong reviews but few eyeballs in November, drawing only 270,000 viewers before wrapping its run Jan. 24 with just 239,000 total viewers. However, its position as a critical darling — unlike Nicole and Mary + Jane — paired with its timely social message as a show about two college students who have a secret life as vigilantes targeting sexual assailants — cut through the clutter enough to potentially warrant a second season.
THR TV critic Daniel Fienberg called Sweet/Vicious the "best show you've never heard of," and praised its first season. "Sweet/Vicious is empowering as hell, but it's not as one-dimensional as a 'Girls can kick butt too' message," he wrote.
"Mary + Jane and Nicole will not be returning," McCarthy told THR during an interview about the new Viacom, noting he's given the rights back to producers to shop both series elsewhere. "We love the product and think they're great stories. We love Nicole and Snoop and have a lot of business with Snoop [including VH1's Martha and Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party]. But they just weren't resonating in the way that we would have liked them to. Sweet/Vicious is a story we think is incredibly important and very timely and we're trying to figure out what the right way to relaunch that and figure out what the next iteration of that is. No decision has been made yet but we love the show and are trying to figure that out."
MTV's roster of scripted now consists of the forthcoming second season of The Shannara Chronicles, third season of Scream as well as the final season of Teen Wolf. In speaking with reporters Thursday during its quarterly earnings call, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish noted that MTV's focus under McCarthy would be on unscripted. Bakis said that MTV's scripted push — which came under network presidents before McCarthy — "didn't really work." For his part, McCarthy reaffirmed that later Thursday, noting that once MTV's reality and live events have been solidified, he would then refocus on launching scripted.