The cancel and renew part of the TV season is never the most comfortable time of the year for the myriad people involved in the industry, but this year has been a particularly storied bloodbath, with some seemingly heavy hitters saying goodbye before their time. While shows on CBS (RIP Mom, MacGyver) were cancelled relatively quickly, over at NBC the cancellation season has been elongated thanks to the network putting several series in limbo last month. Unfortunately, the outcome was likely not what any of those shows would have hoped.
This week, NBC finally laid to rest Good Girls, the crime dramedy featuring Mae Whitman, Retta and Christina Hendricks -- the former two of whom were previous mainstays on NBC having starred in the successful series Parenthood and Parks and Recreation respectively. The cancellation itself was sad, as Good Girls had developed an (apparently) small but devoted fanbase and was already teasing what would happen in an upcoming Season 4. However, the decision marks a larger trend among the shows on limbo this year.
Back in May, during NBC’s Upfronts presentation, the network mentioned that decisions had still not been made for a few of the network’s shows: Manifest, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Good Girls and Debris. Usually if a show or four are in limbo a few will ultimately get cancelled but the network will work to save the shows it can. In this case, that seems to be none of 'em, as a month later all four of these shows have now been axed by the Peacock network.
Manifest in particular was a popular program for NBC and had a second shelf life on streaming, which is why some reports indicated it might ultimately be saved from the cancellation axe. However, talks broke down and so far that hasn't happened--though it is worth pointing out that a slew of fans and even Manifest's EP is on the "Save Manifest" train.
As for the other shows, while Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist does not have the broad fanbase Manifest seemingly has, it does have an avid fanbase that liked having a musical series with spunk and heart on TV. In its case there have also been petitions and more to save the series and it very nearly went to Peacock before efforts seemingly fizzled out. NBC's new sci-fi series Debris was somewhat less buzzy than the other two shows, but was relatively new during the Upfronts and was seemingly given time to grow before a decision was made.
Which brings us back to Good Girls. To me, the most interesting thing about the Good Girls cancellation was that the show was seemingly going to be saved in an alleged move to Netflix before that "imploded," per a THR report. Netflix has previously renewed network and cable shows like Lucifer or Longmire, but those moves seem to be rarer by the streamer now that it is pushing original content out on the regular. (Though the Netflix model has separate problems we've detailed before.)
Meanwhile, while the NCIS' of the world are still around, networks seem to be having trouble finding shows that stick in many cases. We may have been living during peak TV a few years ago, but now we're really living in peak cancellation, with Netflix cancelling a slew of shows after one season -- and one season only -- and networks having more and more trouble finding shows that stay on the air over the long haul. While cable and streaming competes for our attention and dollars, expect some more growing pains.