Sitcom Scorecard: November 8-12, 2020

ABC took the week off to air the CMA awards, leaving the thick of the action for CBS, FOX and NBC for original sitcoms on Sunday and Thursday evenings.  In their predictable (and exciting) seesaw of NFL inflation and purging, FOX returned to gravity on Sunday, November 8.  The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob's Burgers took a nearly one-size-fits-all rating of 0.6 in preliminary figures with the Simpsons squeaking to a 0.7 in finals, while Bless The Harts created a canyon in that mark with a paltry 0.4.  

Thursday, November 12 proved to be the hotbed of where the ratings action took place.  NBC's Superstore registered another series low 0.5, leaving many wondering didn't NBC used to monopolize Thursday evenings?  Over at CBS, the veterans held strong and newer sitcoms sank as predicted.  Young Sheldon ticked up to 0.8, freshman sitcom B-Positive rejected a tenth at 0.5, and Mom held steady at 0.6.  Sadly, The Unicorn returned to an all-time CBS sitcom low of 0.4.

Next week marks the return of The Neighborhood and Bob Hearts Abishola, finishing the fall roster with 16 sitcoms before 2021 approaches.

So how come some shows are Certain Renewal vs. Likely Renewal despite "strong" ratings?  They are all indeed older sitcoms, but some much older and outsourced.  The Simpsons has yet to end despite it should have done do about 19-20 seasons ago.  Unless one of the principle voiceover artists passes, this show will continue churning out watered down episodes paling compared to the glorious first 8 seasons.  Young Sheldon is in its 4th season and proved on Thursday it is still CBS' strongest player.  While Mom continues strong, it is outsourced.  Losing principle Anna Faris did free up some capital, and the writing has shown the series could survive if Allison Janney secures a new contract.  And despite withering ratings, why is Superstore a Certain Renewal?  NBC needs this sitcom to hold together some semblance of the genre and lead to new sitcom life.

Over at ABC, The Goldbergs is inches away from overtaking The Conners but like CBS' Mom is in its 8th season.  Hardly original compared to its first 3 seasons, the series is aging and outsourced from Sony.  It proves to continue to be a viable player for the network, so it is likely to be renewed.  The Conners enjoyed two seasons as ABC's strongest player, but a move to Wednesdays is chipping down the sort-of-revival sitcom.  Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert and John Goodman do not come with a cheap price tag, so again contracts are the triggering factor.  American Housewife is the youngest among ABC's players in its 5th season and showing sturdy performances, making it Certain Renewal.  As for Blackish, it is critically-acclaimed, but alienates viewers causing noticeable drops.

Newer sitcoms on CBS show the weakest signs of survival.  B-Positive and The Unicorn did not retain more than 70% of their lead-ins last night, leaving them On the Bubble or lower.  COVID-19 showed if sitcoms are weaker, networks are not shy to let the hills run red with casualties.  If Mom ends after 8 seasons, CBS could return the 9:00 hour to another run-of-the-mill procedural and bump off both B-Positive and The Unicorn.  The same for ABC if The Goldbergs or The Conners ends, another sitcom could be bumped off and the schedule condensed so ABC could shop another drama or inexpensive reality platform.  Given ratings are grinding metal on metal, the networks appear to be leaning on going reality, leaving scripted programming to cable and streaming.

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