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It’s the end of the road for several ABC series.
The network on Thursday canceled American Crime, Dr. Ken, Imaginary Mary, Secrets and Lies, The Catch and The Real O’Neals.
Drama American Crime, John Ridley’s critically praised anthology, represented a key awards season player for ABC. While critics raved about the Felicity Huffman starrer, viewers turned the other way. The April 30 season three finale drew just a 0.4 in the adults 18-49 demo. Season to date with seven days of DVR, American Crime averages just 3.4 million total viewers and a 0.8 in the demo. Meanwhile, Huffman has booked the lead in ABC comedy pilot Libby and Malcolm, from Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris. For his part, Ridley recently launched Showtime civil rights event series Guerrilla.
Sophomore multicam Dr. Ken was ostensibly the only comedy to work with Tim Allen’s longtime Friday multicam Last Man Standing, which also was just canceled by the network after six seasons. The Ken Jeong vehicle, which hailed from ABC Studios and Sony Pictures Television, averaged 5.3 million viewers and a less-compelling 1.2 rating among adults 18-49 in live-plus-7 tallies. But the show essentially lived and died by what it lured to its time slot. DVR tune-in was nominal and watercooler conversation was, frankly, nonexistent. Sources note producers did not even pitch a third season to the network.
Also from Sony TV was first-year comedy Imaginary Mary. Despite hailing from creator Adam F. Goldberg (of The Goldbergs), the half-hour suffered in the Tuesday 9:30 p.m. slot worse than The Real O’Neals. Early live-plus-7 averages, before including the show’s subsequent dips, have it only averaging a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 4.5 million viewers. However, the news came hours after ABC handed out a two-season renewal for The Goldbergs. That’s another swing and a miss for sitcom veteran Jenna Elfman. Imaginary Mary is now her third one-and-done Big Four sitcom in five seasons.
Secrets and Lies, the Juliette Lewis anthology from ABC Studios, was originally renewed for a summer 2016 run after the murder mystery broke out during a May 2015 run on Sundays. The series, however, was left off ABC’s 2016 midseason schedule and instead held for a fall run under ABC Entertainment Group president Channing Dungey, who helped develop the drama. Unfortunately, the series was off the air too long and fizzled, drawing only a 1.4 in the demo and 5.2 million total viewers — down considerably from its freshman outing.
After a rocky freshman season that saw the Shondaland drama replace showrunners, The Catch underwent a creative revamp to embrace a more comedic tone. Showrunner Allan Heinberg (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) ditched the case of the week format — much like Scandal did in its second season — and instead retooled the show as a romantic comedy. The series took over the prime Thursdays at 10 p.m. slot after How to Get Away With Murder wrapped its run and has averaged a 1.1 in the demo and 5.2 million total viewers.
While not a breakout hit by any means, the Shonda Rhimes– and Betsy Beers-produced drama was a favorite for Dungey. Despite being produced in-house by ABC Studios and hailing from the network’s most important producer (Rhimes), it was unable to get a third run. However, in addition to renewals for Rhimes‘ trio of dramas — Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder — ABC on Thursday picked up the Rhimes-produced legal drama For the People to series.
For The Real O’Neals, the writing had been on the wall. After a modest midseason launch in 2016, the tide turned for the family comedy when star Noah Galvin, the openly gay actor playing the openly gay son in a conservative Irish-Catholic family, gave a scathing interview last June that called out much of gay Hollywood and dubbed Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet’s performance as a gay man as “a caricature of a caricature.” The sophomore episode count was soon shortened, though no one ever admitted that was a result of its young star biting the proverbial hand that fed him.
Controversy or not, ABC didn’t have much of a reason to keep the sitcom (loosely based on writer Dan Savage’s childhood) around. Its second season averaged just a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 3.3 million viewers. Those numbers were all the more dismal when compared to the network’s other thriving half-hours and take into consideration the fact that some real estate will have to free up for new orders such as comedies The Mayor and Start Up, both of which earned series pickups Thursday.
The cancelations for not one but two Sony-produced series continues the ownership trend already big at NBC for the 2017-18 season. NBC opted not to pick up any pilots from outside studios and also canceled freshman cult favorite Timeless, another Sony production. ABC already canceled Last Man Standing, from outside 20th Century Fox, earlier this week.
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