Updated 2:40 p.m.: Showtime has now confirmed the cancellation of Masters of Sex. “Masters of Sex was a beautifully written and acted exploration of America’s changing sexual mores,” the cable network said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “We are incredibly proud to have shared the story of Masters and Johnson for four critically acclaimed seasons. The series will remain available across our platforms where new viewers can discover it for years to come.”
Previous 10:28 a.m.: Masters of Sex has ended its run.
Showtime has opted to end the drama after four seasons, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The premium cable network declined comment.
The fourth season of the period drama starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan wrapped in mid-November. The series from Michelle Ashford and based on Thomas Maier’s biography of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson ended with what actually makes a somewhat satisfying conclusion: Masters and Johnson getting married. Sources say Showtime, the producers and the cast decided that they have told a complete story and opted to not move forward with a fifth season.
Once a prestige drama, Masters of Sex has never been a breakout ratings performer for the cabler. Season four averaged less than 800,000 total viewers, counting three days of delayed returns. That’s less than half of the 2 million viewers its lead in — the already-renewed Ray Donovan — scored last season.
Masters of Sex hails from Sony Pictures Television and earned 11 Emmy nominations over its four seasons, including a win for Allison Janney’s guest role. The drama drew criticism in season three for its focus on children rather than on Masters (Sheen) and Johnson (Caplan).
Masters of Sex was one of the first projects developed under Showtime topper David Nevins after he replaced Bob Greenblatt at the network. The cancelation comes as the cabler is poised to wrap Matt LeBlanc comedy Episodes in 2017 and parted ways with House of Lies and Penny Dreadful this year. Showtime has struggled to launch a new hit of late (RIP Cameron Crowe’s Roadies) and has a roster of dramas that includes Shameless (which is awaiting word on an eighth-season renewal), The Affair (awaiting word on season four), Billions, Dice, Homeland and Ray Donovan as well as upcoming entries Twin Peaks, Just Kids, I’m Dying Up Here, Purity and Guerrilla.