With a loaded production schedule and several potential new series in the works, pay-cable network HBO has cleaned house by unceremoniously pulling Bored to Death, Hung and How to Make it in America, while at the same time renewing the Laura Dern-led Enlightened, in the wake of its two Golden Globe nominations.
Sadly, the swift termination of these shows leaves the creators no time to accurately wrap up their respective storylines – which in the case of Hung and Bored to Death, ended with some pretty heavy questions waiting for answers. However, as fans of Deadwood, Carnivale and John from Cincinnati can attest: sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Realistically, though, ratings were a problem. Hung, starring Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist), Rebecca Creskoff (Justified) and Anne Heche (Rampart) was the most watched of the three, and yet it suffered a ratings drop of nearly 50 percent from the season prior. And even though Jane landed his second Golden Globe nomination for his role in the series, it clearly wasn’t enough for HBO.
Meanwhile, despite starring Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Ted Danson (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover I&II), Bored to Death was dealt a 25 percent loss of viewership – the same as the Bryan Greenberg (Friends with Benefits) and Lake Bell (No Strings Attached) fashion dramedy, How to Make it in America.
While the lack of ratings might seem to be the culprit in the demise of these programs, the real puzzler here is that Enlightened was the worst performer out of all of them – typically earning less than 250,000 viewers. However, in its favor, Enlightened did manage to snag two Golden Globe nominations, for best comedy and actress. As evidenced by the smaller audiences programs like Mad Men and Breaking Bad garner, accolades and awards typically mean a great deal when it comes to the longevity of a series.
Series creator Mike White (School of Rock) responded to the news by saying, “I know HBO has had to make some hard decisions. I feel very lucky that they are letting us make more Enlightened. We will do our best to make something cool.”
The cancellations may have had more to do with HBO’s incredibly busy production schedule that already features the returning Eastbound and Down; 2012 will also welcome the upcoming Ricky Gervais comedy Life’s Too Short, Girls from Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow and the Julia Louis-Dreyfus political comedy Veep. Additionally, the network will be bringing in the new comedy 40, starring Ed Burns and hailing from Entourage creator Doug Elin, as well as a new program from Sex and the City creator Darren Starr entitled Viagra Diaries, which will star Goldie Hawn.
Whatever the case, it is still unfortunate to see these programs go without so much as a curtain call. However, since it doesn’t look like HBO is planning to move beyond the two nights a week it airs new episodes of its original programming, the solution to the problem of an overcrowded schedule will likely stay the same.
Enlightened will return to HBO sometime in 2012.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.