It’s not easy to avoid the chopping block when it comes to primetime television. Whether it’s a returning series or a new show, livelihood is purely a numbers game, and when the numbers go south, cancellation is not far behind. TV by the Numbers runs a series of articles outlining which shows from the major networks are trending downwards using what it calls the “Renew/Cancel Index” — a ratio that takes into account a show’s 18-49 age group ratings relative to the performance of other shows.
In general, a score less than 1 puts a show at considerable risk of cancellation, while a score greater than 1 puts a show in safer territory. Shows approaching 2 on the scale are more or less untouchable — pretty much assured for an early renewal. Shows trending around 0.5 are generally in big, big trouble as networks decide what to cancel. Using TV by the Numbers’ Renew/Cancel Index, here are the shows from each of the five major broadcast networks — ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, and The CW — that seem destined for the chopping block.
Marry Me, NBC
This television season has been rough on the slew of romantic comedies that networks introduced. NBC’s Marry Me has managed to hang on longer than others and it’s still scoring decently on the Renew/Cancel Index at 1.02, but TV By the Numbers still predicts the show will be canceled by this May. The site points out that no more spots in the network’s schedule have been added for the show. NBC has already cancelled the comedies A to Z and Bad Judge and it’s facing the end of Parks and Recreation this winter, so things aren’t looking so good for the network’s comedy lineup come spring.
About a Boy, NBC
The cancellation of About A Boy will complete the comedy implosion that’s happened this season at NBC. TV By the Numbers predicts that the show is more likely to be canceled than to be renewed and points out that, like Marry Me, there’s no spot on the schedule for more episodes after the ones that have already been planned. The show has a 0.81 Cancel/Renew Index, which puts it just above the series that the network has already had to cancel. The show is about an unemployed bachelor living off the royalties from a song he wrote and how his life is changed when a hippie single mother and her young son move in next door.
The Mysteries of Laura, NBC
TV By the Numbers is on the fence about Will and Grace star Debra Messing’s new show, in which she plays a single mom who must juggle her career as a police officer while trying to raise twins and deal with a husband who’s reluctant to divorce her. The show has a 0.96 Cancel/Renew Index, which is right on the border ratings-wise, though mediocre reviews could push it over into cancellation territory. Critics said that the series feels dated both as a cop show and in its representations of single motherhood, and it only has a dismal 22 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The McCarthys, CBS
The McCarthys is a sitcom about a Boston-based, Irish-Catholic, sports-obsessed family with an openly gay son who doesn’t quite fit the mold, to say the least. When the patriarch, a high school basketball coach, offers that son a job as his assistant over one of the other family members, the clan must deal with the controversial decision. TV By the Numbers says that despite getting a couple more episodes ordered, the show is guaranteed to be canceled by spring. The website referred to the extra episodes as “Tetris filling,” meaning CBS was just trying to fill in some empty space and doesn’t really see potential in a show with ratings that give it a Cancel/Renew Index of 0.75 plus little critical attention.
This crime series that follows the LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit and victims of stalking looks like another CBS show that will get the axe by the time the snow thaws. The show has gotten bad reviews, which say Stalker’s look at stalking is pretty misguided, and its ratings haven’t been enough to save it, with a Cancel/Renew Index of 0.83. “This shoddy program is nothing more than exploitative, misogynist trash,” said The Huffington Post. We all know some bad TV shows can be big guilty pleasures and bring home the ratings for networks, but it doesn’t look like Stalker is going to be one of them.
The long-running procedural CSI might see itself axed in its 15th season. The show has a low Renew/Cancel Index of 0.67 and TV By the Numbers says that a recent episode order reduction is a big sign of doom for dramas on the network. That doesn’t mean that CSI is ending completely, as CBS is already planning yet another spin-off, CSI: Cyber, for the spring, even though Season 15 of CSI might not live until then.
As for the rest of CBS’s lineup, the Téa Leoni-starring political drama Madam Secretary is a show that the website was on the fence about, saying that the performance of some CBS newcomers will determine whether Leoni’s series lives or dies.
While there hasn’t yet been an official cancellation announcement from Fox, TV By the Numbers maintains that the sitcom from standup comedian John Mulaney has already been canceled. The show was cut by three episodes, from its original 16 to the already-filmed 13, and the website says that it’s just a PR move by the network to avoid saying the show has been canceled until all the episodes have aired. The show has gotten abysmal reviews and ratings since its debut and has a Renew/Cancel Index of just 0.54. That figure puts it on par with the other shows that Fox has already canceled this season, Gracepoint and Red Band Society.
With a Renew/Cancel Index only slightly above shows like Selfie and Manhattan Love Story, which ABC has already canceled, TV By the Numbers predicts that Forever will definitely be gone by this May. Forever is about an immortal medical examiner living (forever) and practicing medicine in New York City. His 200 years on Earth have given him a lot of insight into his profession, but the show just couldn’t draw viewers. Cue the jokes about the show’s short lifespan, its inability to survive, its mortality, how it couldn’t last forever.
Resurrection suffered a sharp decline in ratings at the end of the year, which TV By the Numbers says means it won’t likely move past its second season. The show has a 0.73 Renew/Cancel rating and its recent downward trend doesn’t suggest good things for its future. The show is about a group of people in Missouri who must deal with their lives when a group of their loved ones return from the dead. The website predicts Resurrection is the other ABC show that will definitely be canceled by May. Cue more bad puns.
Nothing on The CW
The CW is the lucky network that looks like it will see all of its shows get picked up for renewal come May. In addition to the successful comedy Jane the Virgin, which received some Golden Globe nominations and has been raved about by critics, the network has the fan-favorite DC-comic adaptations Arrow and The Flash as well as cult-favorite guilty-pleasures Supernatural and Vampire Diaries. While TV By the Numbers was on the fence about Reign, Jane the Virgin, and The 100 since those were the network’s three lowest-rated shows, the website said it believes all of the network’s current lineup will get renewed.
Additional reporting by Thomas Mentel
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS
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