Beyond the TV Grave -- Cristela (2014-15)

Written Questioning ABC's Scheduling by Bridger Cunningham.
Every network features undesirable timeslots, and ABC does not differ.  During the 2014-15 season, ABC offered up four of its eight timeslots to freshman pilots.  Black-ish (rightfully) received the Wednesday 9:30 timeslot behind Modern Family as it received critical acclaim.  That left the Tuesday 8:00 hour and post-Last Man Standing timeslot on Friday at 8:30.  2014 flops Manhattan Love Story and Selfie housed the Tuesday timeslots and perished before the new year.  Given its incorporated laugh track, Cristela colonized the Friday timeslot, in exchange for ample and aggressive promotions.  Cristela managed to receive a full 22-episode season order, yet never outlived its freshman season.
Image result for roseanne cristelaCristela Hernandez (Cristela Alonzo) is a thirtysomething Texan born Mexican American who shocks her family by enrolling in law school and taking an unpaid internship.  Taking a page from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Cristela's mother Natalia (Terri Hoyos) not only pesters her daughter to find a husband, but also demands she never forget her ethnic heritage.  Add a career-driven sister, her antagonizing husband and two kids, and Hernandez/Gonzales household is rife with stereotypical humor.  Where the series developed a welcome premise is Cristela's office setting featuring her accidental racist boss Trent Culpepper (Sam McMurray), his entitled, ditzy daugher Maddie (Justine Lupe) who works as Cristela's lateral equal, and Jewish intern Josh (Andrew Leeds), who exhibited great chemistry with Cristela.  As a nominal bonus, Roseanne Barr made welcome cameos as Trent's feminist, upscale estranged wife Veronica, whom took a fond interest in Cristela.
Why This Series Failed

The ratings were the greatest culprit as live shows averaged between 0.8-1.3, roughly 60-70% of its already soft lead-in.  The Live+7 ratings did not bolster the series further, as they landed in 120th Place among the 188 shows with a 1.2 average.  Both the network and showrunners perhaps should have made changes mid-season to retool the premise:

The Network
The Friday 8:30 timeslot held a pattern of dispensing every show which touched it since 2012 with Malibu Country and The Neighbors perishing inside a season.  Cristela was heading down this same path mid-season, and ABC also launched Fresh Off The Boat on February 4, paired with variety/reality piece Repeat After Me, hosted by Wendi McLendon-Covey.  Given Cristela was floundering on Fridays, ABC should have shopped the series post FOTB to see if it would jell with viewers.  Repeat After Me was reality-based and may have fit a precursor tone to Friday's 9:00 showing of Shark Tank.  By boxing in Cristela on Fridays, it held little opportunity for growth on the schedule.
The Showrunners
Like CBS' Mom's first season, Cristela was finding its tone against an undesirable timeslot.  Leading lady Cristela Alonso knew how to carry herself in all of the material, but a divide formed in the series.  The office setting developed intrigue and offered ample exploration of stereotypes and finding a career later in life.  The home scene, however, regressed the stereotypes and forced laughs.  Kooky neighbor Alberto (Gabriel Iglesias) made a dynamic foil/devoted friend to the lead, and Hoyos also fleshed out her dynamic with Alonzo.  The remains of the family, however, squatted in opportune stories and held limited growth potential.  The office setting featured corporate intrigue, competition amongst the interns and may have distinguished this series into a workplace sitcom.
Series runners may have easily retooled the premise eliminating the four family members (in recurring capacity, of course) and focused on the office.  Alberto jelled with the office setting doing repair work and deserved an upgrade.  A fitting compromise to a setting outside of the office would have been Cristela and Natalia moving out of the family home and sharing a cramped space, continuing their antagonistic banter.  Either way, the series waited too late to figure out what worked and what fizzled, and the network cancelled them inside one season. 

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