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It’s been a rough couple of weeks for fans of CBS’ Mike & Molly. The news that the reasonably successful comedy would be cancelled at the end of a shortened Season 6 came as a surprise to many. There have been plenty of theories about what exactly went into the decision not to renew for a seventh season, but sitcom writer extraordinaire Ken Levine, of Cheers and Frasier fame, has a few of ideas of his own. The biggest happens to be the simplest, as he hypothesizes that Mike & Molly simply fell victim to budget concerns.
A big consideration is economics, especially in Mike & Molly’s case. Everyone initially signs a six-year deal. The six years will be up this season. This is when having a movie star as your lead becomes not such a good thing. License fees (how much the network will pay for each episode) are usually determined in advance and then putting together your cast and production crew is like an NBA franchise building a team under the salary cap. Sometimes the costs are just too prohibitive.
The future of Mike & Molly coming down to dollar signs and decimal points is a shame, but not altogether surprising. Levine notes elsewhere in his blog that star Melissa McCarthy’s rise to film stardom had not brought about a similar rise in the ratings. Paying a movie star salary for a show not bringing in particularly impressive numbers would be something of a gamble for CBS. Of course, Melissa McCarthy’s tweet regarding the cancellation gives the impression that she was not angling to make some major demands in her new contract, but there’s no denying that she’d have grounds to expect a pay raise.
Levine also notes that Mike & Molly is not actually owned by CBS. Rather, it’s a Warner Brothers show. CBS has nothing to gain in the long term by investing much time and money in the series. Mike & Molly’s reasonable ratings evidently just aren’t enough for CBS to justify bringing it back for Season 7.
This wouldn’t be the first time that CBS prioritized other shows over Mike & Molly. The past three years have seen the network bumping the sitcom from a fall premiere, and the sixth season’s original order of 22 episodes had already been cut down to 13 prior to news of the cancellation. The lack of a consistent time slot certainly could have taken a toll on the ratings, but it’s impossible to say if Mike & Molly could have ever achieved the numbers for CBS to want to bring it back for another season.
Disheartening as Mike & Molly news has been lately, at least fans have the 13 remaining episodes of Season 6 to look forward to. The winter 2016 premiere will air on Wednesday, January 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS.