ABC Family made an ambitious move back in early 2016 when the network rebranded itself as Freeform. Programming was going to be specifically aimed at viewers in the 14 - 34 age demographic in place of the fun-for-the-whole-family entertainment that was generally available before the rebranding. Freeform put together a lineup of originals with the potential to build a solid block of primetime TV; instead, the network has been issuing cancellation orders for a lot of its newest originals.
Dead of Summer is the latest Freeform original to get the ax. The horror drama only attracted 610,000 viewers when it premiered in June, and The Wrap reports that it didn't even have the critical acclaim to maybe justify a renewal. It lasted for one season.
The Dead of Summer cancellation comes shortly after the announcement that Guilt would be coming to an end, as well. The murder mystery show drew even fewer viewers than Dead of Summer, although critics responded more positively. The cancellation after Season 1 came as bad news to the people who actually did watch; the finale ended with some new cliffhangers in play. In addition, Recovery Road was cancelled back in May, bringing an end to the series based on the popular book of the same name.
Most networks deal with a couple of duds per year, but the Freeform cancellations are troubling. All three shows were dramas, and their nixing leaves Freeform with only Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, The Fosters, and Shadowhunters in the drama lineup. Considering that Pretty Little Liars and Switched at Birth are both concluding for good after their next seasons, Freeform is going to need to find some new drama hits sooner rather than later. A couple of comedies and a handful of reality series may not be enough to sustain the network in the long run.
Freeform has some irons in the fire. A Marvel series based on comic book heroes Cloak and Dagger is in the works. Cloak and Dagger would follow the love story between the two leads as they discover that they work better as a unit than apart despite their many differences. Cloak and Dagger aren't big enough Marvel names that a lot of comic fans would likely flock to Freeform, but comic series have been huge hits for other networks. Who knows? Maybe Cloak and Dagger could do for Freeform what Arrow did for The CW.
For folks who might not be into obscure Marvel superheroes, Freeform has another truly unique option in the works. The Deep will be a thriller that focuses on a group of angry mermaids that rises up to battle humans that are encroaching on their territory. Additionally, supernatural drama Beyond and mystery show Famous in Love will hit the airwaves on Freeform in 2017. Hopefully the network will escape its original lineup slump and find some hits in the near future.