5 Ridiculous Reasons Awesome TV Shows Were Canceled
Your favorite TV show getting canceled isn't the end of the world. It's actually more like getting explosive diarrhea: Sure, it ...
Sorry for making that dumb joke, but at least you know that I did it to illustrate a point. You may not agree with it, and you may not have laughed at it, but my decision made sense because it had a purpose. TV fans don't always get the luxury of knowing why they're getting the rug pulled out from under them. Sometimes, a network will decide to ax a perfectly good show for the most nonsensical reasons imaginable, like ...
You Had To Watch It To Understand It (Police Squad!)
If you don't know anything about the 1982 comedy series Police Squad! but love the Naked Gun movies, then maybe you should shut your lying mouth and go back to Lie Town, where- ... sorry, let me try that again: Did you know that the Naked Gun franchise was based on a TV show? Probably not. For some reason, Police Squad! still isn't as popular as the movies it inspired, despite the show's name being right there in the title of the first Naked Gun.
To be fair, if you put the word "naked" next to a 60-year-old man,
the human brain tends to shut down to protect itself.
It's a little puzzling, though, because Police Squad! and Naked Gun are pretty much the exact same thing: a hilarious, Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker (ZAZ) spoof of police procedurals starring Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin. Why, then, did the series last only six episodes before getting canned by ABC? The answer to that is so stupid, it sounds like a line that would be said in the actual show: ABC President of Entertainment Tony Thomopoulos went on record to say that the network canceled Police Squad! because, "The viewer had to watch it to appreciate it."
"We had to bring an end to this madness!"
Now, I am willing to admit that ZAZ's signature style of comedy (also seen in, say, Airplane!) has always been more visual than verbal, making it impossible to just put Police Squad! on in the background and still enjoy it. You actually have to sit down and pay close attention to it to get all the jokes, and that's really not how television used to work.
For one, TV shows used to have a lot more zebras in hats than they do now.
Not that long ago, television was a lesser form of entertainment, a place where you didn't want to be challenged or to make any sort of mental effort. The reason for the show's cancellation, as idiotic as it was, is now more of a commentary on how much more demanding and observant we've become when it comes to pop culture. Then again, if you've missed all the Batmen I Photoshopped into every single pic in this entry, then maybe we haven't become as perceptive as I'd thought.
And, speaking of Batman ...
Too Many Girls Liked It (Young Justice)
I was born a 30-year-old man, and I've only gotten older, so I never really enjoyed movies and TV shows with young main characters. Needless to say, I was reluctant to check out Young Justice, because it was a cartoon about teenage (uuugh) sidekicks from the DC universe trying to establish themselves as legitimate superheroes. But then I thought that there might be enough Batman there to make it worth my while, so one day I put it on, and then I immediately started working on a time machine so I could slap my younger self for not watching the show sooner.
"You *slap* kept me *slap* from experiencing one of the *slap* greatest superhero lines ever, you *slap* dipshit."
-me, to past me.
As it turns out, there isn't that much Batman in the show, but at the same time there is, in the sense that Young Justice feels very much like Batman: The Animated Series because of how seriously it treats the audience while dealing with some heavy subjects. You have Superboy's daddy issues, Miss Martian's borderline-body dysphoria, Red Arrow's entire story arc -- oh, and that fucked-up Halloween episode. All in all, Young Justice is one of those rare, beautifully written, beautifully animated cartoons that really anyone can enjoy. And that's pretty much why it was canceled in 2013.
During an interview with Kevin Smith, Batman: TAS writer Paul Dini explained that Cartoon Network ended Young Justice because it didn't like the type of people it was attracting, namely the penisly challenged. Dini claims to have actually heard executives say, "We do not want girls watching this show," which was a problem because, as it turned out, women made up a significant chunk of Young Justice's audience.
And even if they didn't, that'd still be an incredibly fucked-up thing to say.
The studio's reasoning was that older female viewers would either a) not buy Young Justice toys or b) demand the WRONG Young Justice toys, like official Batgirl tampons or something. What actually pisses me off the most, though, is not the economically nonsensical sexism but rather that Cartoon Network saw Young Justice, probably one of the greatest animated shows of the last few years, as just a vehicle to sell toys. It's like telling someone to make you Cars and then complaining that you got Up instead.
The Creator Demanded An Immediate Decision About Being Renewed (Angel)
I still miss Firefly, guys and guyettes, but I have been trying to go clean by turning to the Firefly-version of methadone: Angel, another Joss Whedon series with an ensemble cast and a creative, genre-melding angle, which in this case pits a vampire detective against occult lawyers. That's so stupidly badass, I always wondered why so many women liked this show. It couldn't be because of the awesome writing and acting, because that's a guy thing. It must be because they found something pretty in the scenery.
Ah, there we go.
Another thing that Angel and Firefly have in common is that they were both screwed over by TV executives.
The fifth season of Angel coincided with the series finale of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, causing an influx of Whedon fans to the David Boreanaz vehicle. Armed with his show's improved ratings, Whedon smugly walked up to Jordan Levin, then-head of The WB, blew cigarette smoke into his face, and flat-out told him to decide right now whether they were renewing his suddenly-hot-shit show for a new season or not. Then he flicked his cigarette at him and insulted the man's mother. At least, that's how Jordan Levin probably remembers it.
Hey, I wouldn't put that past Whedon. The man is a fucking psychopath.
After being put on the spot by Whedon, the studio head decided that, if he had to choose immediately, he had no choice but to cancel the show. But the thing is that ... he really didn't have to choose then. He was well within his rights to pat Whedon on the head and tell him that The WB would get back to him whenever the fuck they felt like getting back to him. What would Joss do then? He couldn't take Angel to another network, and he sure as hell wouldn't shut down production on it himself, because all he wanted to do was get his crew some job security.
See, up until then, The WB always waited until the last second to renew Angel, which forced the show's staff to turn down other gigs for a possibility of maybe working on another theoretical season of What If Philip Marlowe Was A Vampire? To deny dozens of people some peace of mind because a show's creator didn't fall to his knees and worship your tiny cock was, ironically, a huge dick move.
Now, if he had asked Whedon to kiss his feet?
That might have been a different story.
The WB did eventually admit that canceling Angel was a mistake, but their decision still robbed us of the show's sixth season, which was supposed to be something like "Angel in The Road Warrior."
Only Older People Enjoyed It (Longmire)
I seriously worry that in a few years time, the only TV I'll enjoy will be reruns of The Golden Girls and adult diaper commercials. I say that because the main reason I started watching Longmire, an A&E series about a cowboy sheriff set in modern-day Wyoming, was because the main character is about 50 years old, which more than satisfies my long-standing "screw kids" TV rule. (The rule has since been renamed after I got a visit from two very nice police officers.)
I also really like that it is one of the few shows that don't take place in California or New York.
I don't even care that there are probably five murders and three rapes being committed
in this picture. Wyoming is goddamn beautiful.
To top it off, the show had some smart socio-economic commentary about Native Americans, and speaking of people who were needlessly fucked over by rich white men: In 2014, despite three very strong seasons, Longmire fans were shocked to discover that A&E was canceling the show, and that THEY were the reason why.
According to the network, the problem was that their viewers were too old, and the network wanted to attract a younger audience. They probably also barely stopped themselves from adding: "It's really our fault for not having at least one Indian on the show have magic powers and fight crime in his spare time."
Which is bullshit, because what about Hector and his superpower of punching assholes' teeth out with his fists?
Let's be clear: Longmire had a viewership of 5.6 million at the time (which was lower than the previous season but only by a bit), so ratings were not the problem. The problem was that too many of those viewers were over 50, and the network worried that they wouldn't be able to market anything to them other than Bay Rum, blue hair dye, and Youths Proximity Alarms.
A&E later tried to backtrack, saying that Longmire was canceled because of a dispute over the show's ownership, but nobody really bought it, because, as the network was so eager to point out earlier, the show's fans weren't born yesterday. Fortunately, though, this story actually has a happy ending, as Longmire has since found a new home over on Netflix, where, judging by its steady ratings, it'll continue to help your parents "chill" for the foreseeable future.
It Wasn't Educational Enough (Reading Rainbow)
George W. Bush got Reading Rainbow canceled.
Now that I have your attention, let's talk about how, no, seriously, George W. Bush got Reading Rainbow canceled. First, though, a little disclaimer. There are two things you need to know about me: I'm not from the U.S., I was an awkward kid, and I've always loved reading. I realize that's technically three things, but I reckon that the last two mean pretty much the same thing, so ... in any case, I didn't grow up with Reading Rainbow, but I instantly respect and admire anything that encourages kids to pick up a goddamn book every once in a while.
Despite the show becoming so sexualized in later years.
Reading Rainbow started all the way back in 1983 and (counting reruns) continued until 2009, when it was finally pulled from the air because it just wasn't resonating with modern kids who don't even know how "turn on" a print book, right? Not exactly. It was actually because of something even stupider than that tired old joke.
PBS canceled Reading Rainbow because they didn't think it was educational enough.
Or rather, because it focused on the wrong kind of education by not teaching kids how to read. PBS wanted to put money into programming that would focus on spelling and phonics while all RR was doing was fostering a love for reading. So, essentially, they got rid of the show for not doing something it was never intended to do, like taking a hammer to your CD collection because years of listening to it haven't magically taught you how to play an instrument.
Now, all of this was actually put in motion back in 2002, when George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law, which shifted the focus of national education to stuff that could be tested for, like a student's ability to read and spell. The problem with loving to read, however, is that you can't really test for it without doing something drastic, like setting a student's favorite book on fire and measuring the volume of their tears. Anyway, without all that extra government money to fund it, PBS had no choice but to cancel Reading Rainbow.
This actually all comes from the show's host, LeVar Burton himself, who shed some light on the situation in numerous interviews ... while promoting his Kickstarter for reviving Reading Rainbow as an app. The Kickstarter, by the way, was a complete success, so, good news, there's no need to go burn down the Capitol (for now.)
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com.
Check out some pilots that should have never made it on the air (though we totally would watch Who's Your Daddy) in Mercy Kill: 6 Shows (Thankfully) Canceled After One Episode, and help us figure out why Survivor is still a thing after you read 5 Great TV Shows That Should've Been Canceled Way Earlier.
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