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Today, news broke that ABC has canceled Members Only, a drama starring John Stamos, Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt and The Following’s Natalie Zea. The series, formerly called The Club, had a high-profile straight-to-series pick up last January, but has been mostly dead in the water this season, with ABC not adding the drama to either its fall or midseason roster. Now, it won’t be heading to the schedule at any point.
Members Only was expected to follow an exclusive Connecticut country club. The drama would have had plotlines related to the upper class along with stories about the staff at the country club, making it a little bit like Downton Abbey, but with more modern pizzazz. Along with Stamos, Brandt and Zea, Members Only boasted a pretty stellar cast, also boasting Sin City: A Dame To Kill For’s Callie Hernandez, The Mob Doctor’s Jamie Lee Kirchner, Burlesque’s Michael Landes, Baggage Claim’s Boris Kodjoe and more. In fact, the series had a director in place, with R.J. Cutler taking the honors. However, according to THR the cast was informed over the weekend that it was all over.
Despite the fact that Members Only sported an interesting cast and nabbed a 13-episode order, it’s easy to see why ABC might now be dropping the drama. Originally, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle writer David O. Russell was attached to the project and expected to write along with creator Susannah Grant. A month after the straight-to-series pickup, the Oscar nominee left the project. Along with this, ABC has a ton of drama fodder in its 2014-2015 lineup, with The Astronaut Wives Club, Secrets & Lies and several more premiering at midseason. If Members Only wasn’t coming together quickly or competently, ABC certainly had plenty of back-up plans. Besides, there are only so many slots each network gets to launch new shows. If something is DOA, airing it can actually do more harm than good.
However, it does kind of make you wonder what merit a straight-to-series order really has. We like to think of straight-to-series as being kind of the tentpole for great new programming, as it’s tougher and usually means a show has more promise than the programs that nab script or pilot orders early on. Unfortunately, it seems like that early praise might not be as much of an endorsement as it would seem. Members Only isn’t the only straight-to-series program that’s been canceled recently. NBC had two shows under its belt that got picked up straight-to-series. The first, Emerald City, disappeared with little fanfare and the second, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was picked up by Netflix after NBC passed.
It seems unlikely Members Only will get saved like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but if there's one thing you should know by now, it's never bet against John Stamos. Unless if that bet requires a normal belly button.