The Life and Times of TV Renewals

Spring has always been a difficult time for me. Not just this year, with graduation looming, frantic job searching consuming my time, and this being my last blog (ever!), but every single year. Why? This is the time of year where TV networks decide if they’re going to commit to the shows they loved a year ago, or dash all my TV hopes and dreams.

There’s always a couple of shows I become really attached to over the course of each TV season – sometimes this is a great thing, and sometimes it’s not. I always try to stay away from shows with a doomed fate (this year, Smash, The Mob Doctor, Emily Owens MD) but sometimes a few slip in there and it’s late April when my nerves are on edge. I remember a time of meager beginnings when How I Met Your Mother was one such show, and just look at the powerhouse it is now. Of course, I’ve definitely seen the other side of the coin with Veronica Mars, Pushing Daisies, Firefly, Arrested Development … the list goes on and on. I’m truly an expert in TV heartbreak.

TV By the Numbers keeps me updated on what’s landed on the bubble between renew or toss, and seeing some favorites (new or old) make the list is always a struggle. I know some are just lost causes, but there are others I desperately want to fight for. Since I obviously don’t have an audience in front of key network decision makers, I thought I’d fight for them here as my last swan song.

Of the seven shows “on the bubble”, I can only wholeheartedly advocate keeping two. There is one I strongly dislike and seriously advocate tossing – Whitney. It’s just not funny. There’s also another I could see going either way.

But for the two I’d die to keep – one’s on NBC, the other ABC.

Let’s start first with Suburgatory, arguably the safer of the two. For a show that makes its living mocking the extremities of suburban life, it’s somehow made crazy endearing. Between the unlikely love story of Ryan and Tessa and Sheila Shay’s burgeoning realtor career, I found myself rooting for all their successes instead of reveling in their failures. The show’s only been around for two short years, so there are still characters left to introduce and fall in love with, more relationships left to deepen and sweeten and explode all at once – and I think Suburgatory has proven it deserves to stick around to tell those stories.

Now on to the more desperate – NBC’s Go On. My enduring love of all things Friends already makes this a must watch (I’ve seen the entirety of Joey, that should tell you how deep my obsession runs). But this ensemble comedy has proven itself beyond Matthew Perry’s nostalgia-rooted star power. Although I could do without the incessant Lauren and Ryan will-they-won’t-they (I’m rooting for Carrie myself), there’s no arguing the group dynamic is made all the more interesting because of it. That’s what truly makes this show great – the strength isn’t just in individual relationships, but also among the therapy group as a whole. The way they simultaneously support through times of hardship (the spreading of Janie’s ashes) and crack down in times of ridiculousness (Ryan was actually spreading Bisquick) takes the potential sensitivity of grief and turns it into heartwarming gold. I firmly believe this freshman comedy deserves at least another go-round, because let’s face it: Our loveable grief-stricken screw-ups just aren’t healed yet.

Now as for the one I could see going either way – that’s Community. As controversial of a position as it is, I’ve still wavered back and forth on whether or not to toss my (not considerable at all) weight behind Greendale CC as it goes up for a possible renewal and fifth season. The part of me that fell in love with the study group four short years ago says to hold on to that special magic that comes as a combination of Jeff, Annie, Troy, Abed, Britta, Shirley, and Pierce. But the other part, the side that has seen this season take a very interesting direction without Dan Harmon at the helm, says Community has gotten just too weird to stay on NBC’s schedule.

While this year certainly has had its shining moments (Inspector Spacetime primarily), it’s also seen some ridiculously abnormal episode – I’m citing Intro to Felt Surrogacy as my primary evidence. I tried so, so very hard to get into the puppetry and song and dance, but I couldn’t. Between the hallucinatory drug sequence, the balloon-prompted serenade, and the throwaway end gag of Jeff’s felt likeness doing bicep curls on its own, even I was puzzled as to how this made it to air. For a show literally on its last legs, episodes like this are perhaps not the best way to garner the attention of virgin viewers, but I think even the hardcore fans were left more than confused. To me, this episode wasn’t another of Community’s weird strokes of genius, it was evidence of a season fallen flat after Dan Harmon’s departure.


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