ABC Comedy Part 4: The Collapse

Sorry for the long wait while I was giving priority to other articles. Here is part 4/6 of the ABC Comedy article. To see Parts 1, 2, and 3, click here.

Part 4: The Collapse

The Wednesday Problems

Time to get a little bit gloomy here. ABC did not have the best next two seasons in the comedy department. It started with The Middle and Modern Family having their first ever year-to-year losses. The fall was much more dramatic for the latter than the former, but down is down. Then, there was an unnecessary scheduling change: Suburgatory aired post-Modern Family. Why this happened is anyone’s guess. First off, it was not owned by ABC Studios. Getting an in-house produced comedy should have been a priority for the network, and airing such a comedy in the best time slot they have would be the easiest way to do so. Their closest in-house production to syndication, Cougar Town, had recently been cancelled, which should have made it even more of a priority. However, instead of airing one of their three comedies (The Neighbors, Malibu Country, Happy Endings) after Modern Family, they picked a comedy which was doing just fine on its own, and which was drastically improving the 8:30 time slot. Believe it or not, Suburgatory underwhelmed there, and like Cougar Town, was renewed for a short third season to premiere mid-season. And its not like The Neighbors did as well or better than what Suburgatory was getting in the 8:30 time slot. In fact, it also underwhelmed, yet was issued a renewal. Later on in the year, Family Tools aired at 8:30, and completely flopped. Does goes another comedy.

The Tuesday and Friday Problems

With Last Man Standing off to Friday and Cougar Town, Man Up!, and Work It cancelled, ABC had to start over on Tuesday nights. They decided to do this with the two comedies which aired after Modern Family: Happy Endings at 9 and Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 at 9:30. Both were also two of the three ABC-produced comedies, making it somewhat surprising that they were both kicked off of Wednesday night. Unfortunately for ABC, both of them bombed badly. The last time they aired together, Happy Endings had a 1.3 rating, and Apartment 23 a 1.1. The former was burned off on Fridays at 8 and 8:30 in late spring, while the latter was pulled from the schedule after just 9 episodes (it would later air in the summer). Happy Endings dipped into the low 0s, and was subsequently cancelled itself.

Speaking of Last Man Standing being shipped off to Fridays, it saw close to a 30% year-to-year drop. Regardless, the ratings were still good enough for Friday standards, and was renewed for a third full season. Meanwhile, its companion, ABC-produced Malibu Country, also a multi-cam, was consistently hitting numbers in the low 1s. Despite compatibility, ABC decided to cancel the show.

The Missed Opportunity

In April, ABC premiered How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) after Modern Family. It had respectable ratings, and even when Modern Family was a rerun was in the mid 1s. That was enough to put it ahead of Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, Malibu Country, Last Man Standing, and in the same range as The Neighbors. However, it was cancelled after one season, something ABC may have somewhat regretted after seeing what would happen the following season…

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