2020-21 Sitcom Scorecard: FINAL PREDICTIONS

 This season has been a trying one as the Pandemic tested the television industry, and unfortunately in the sitcom arena it left several weakened or past-expiration entries.  A few surprises occurred as former heavyweights Superstore and Mom were cancelled in season, thankfully with enough time to craft suitable endings in a short period of time.  And Last Man Standing, an anomaly as it resurrected after a premature cancelling and network jump, had ample time to wrap up the show properly after overstaying its welcome.  Other shocks include The Conners' massive freefall after being the prior season's 1st Place sitcom champ thanks to a schedule move and critical quality decline.

Not all developments were bleak, and in fact, the chart thankfully sports 10 entries declared renewed.  Whether viewers fancy these shows or are no longer fans, count the blessings at least the networks are holding space for sitcoms in the upcoming years.  Scheduling may change though.  NBC experienced moderate success on Tuesdays with Young Rock and Kenan (who unfortunately hemorrhaged half of their viewers).  But they may be the key to rebuild NBC's once mighty Tuesdays when This Is Us reigned.  NBC's former comedy bed on Thursday has failed to ignite a spark, so the network opted to display dramas with moderate success.  That same night on CBS experienced a massive loss when Mom was cancelled, and it could signal CBS relocating the 9:00 comedy hour to another evening.

The top 8 entries are mostly cemented, with some potential shifts as Young Rock erodes downward.  The Neighborhood and Young Sheldon jockeyed for 1st place after The Simpsons fumbled post NFL.  But a sharp drop on May 6 for Young Sheldon makes it unlikely to push past unless The Neighborhood takes a hit as well.  Prior seasons always had FOX juxtaposed in 1st Place till the superbowl, and ratings deflated fast afterwards and landing in 3rd place.  However, ABC's overused family sitcom format took a hit this season, and FOX will end in 2nd place.  Another entry of the Sitcom Scorecard will come after upfronts to show determinations, but for the time being the following renewal predictions are finalized.


Would ABC dare cancel Blackish?  They seem too invested in their critical darling, which demonstrated encouraging levels of growth when paired with ultra-compatible To Tell The Truth.  Anything goes in 2021 (like NBC axing Superstore), but higher wages on Blackish are promising.


The Goldbergs stands as the only likely renewal as it has some power left.  Critical quality has dropped, and the series experienced a heartbreaking blow when scene stealer George Segal passed in March.  However, ABC will likely bring Goldbergs back as their formerly competitive comedy block is now in tatters.


This category houses the largest number of sitcoms awaiting a verdict.  FOX gave Call Me Kat proper exposure post NFL and housed next to the strong Hell's Kitchen, but the ratings failed to indicate the network had a strong hit on their hands.  Call Me Kat will likely return if FOX desires to keep live action sitcoms on the map next season.  Over at CBS, the network aggressively tested freshman sitcom late in the season by relocating it to the back of the lineup, leading to an automatic loss of 30% of its audience.  Those following this column know B-Positive downgraded from Likely Renewal to Leans Cancellation due to this drop.  However, May 6 changed the odds after the strong players tumbled, and B-Positive managed to retain 80% of Mom's 0.57 with a 0.48.  This demonstrates some marketability for the network.

Over at ABC, what a difference a year made for The Conners.  The Tuesday MVP made a disastrous move to Wednesdays and shed 40% of their audience.  Complicating matters is the show is outsourced and houses three expensive actors (John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert).  Their salaries may have been justified last season but The Conners has dipped as low as 0.51.  American Housewife also experienced issues outside of ratings as behind-the-scenes issues complicated production.  The show meets the bar for the ratings, but now rests at 100 episodes and is treated as an afterthought on the schedule.  Both of these shows are not down and out, but rather a lower priority.


The common denominator in this category is freshman sitcoms arriving late in the season and failing to build in decent timeslots at 8:30.  CBS' United States of Al was given one of the prime slots posted behind Young Sheldon.  However, the May 6 evening demonstrated the series has not established its own audience after Young Sheldon dropped to 0.58, and United States of Al sank to 0.45 despite lead-out Mom posted a 0.57.  The usual trend for CBS Thursdays is the 8:00 show always reigned strongest and the ratings trickled downward to 9:30.  Shows which match or fall below Mom at 9:00 demonstrate weaker entries.

Over at ABC, Home Economics is doing the same and riding the wave, rested between the performances of The Goldbergs and The Conners.  The premise is intriguing and an update to the family sitcom format, but Home Economics has not demonstrated it is sustainable.  The network is in turmoil, and entries from the Leans Renewal could easily get the axe and leave an opening for Home Economics.  But the odds are leaning toward cancellation.


ABC has two misfires in this category as Mixedish and Call Your Mother performed noticeably lower in their respective 9:30 timeslots.  Mixedish' renewal was shocking in 2020, and likely due to the pandemic leaving few viable options.  Despite being part of the critically acclaimed "ish" pedigree, the series failed to establish its own narrative and distinguish itself.  And Call Your Mother delivered a nice variation of the family sitcom with a divorced mother and her grown children's relationships, but perhaps arrived to the party late as ABC sitcom ratings took a massive drop.  The odds of these entries returning is slim, but possible.  If ABC cleans house and makes other shocking cancellations, one or both of these entries could survive due to a lack of options.


The unfortunate fact with this category is its only occupant is stylish in production, writing and delivery.  But The Unicorn was mismatched with CBS and perhaps would have fit elsewhere.  The network gave it ample opportunities, and its last stop on Thursday at 9:30 weighted down the comedy block.  A renewal would send shockwaves as it didn't meet the bar for network sitcoms.  However, let's hope Viacon considers shuttling The Unicorn over the Paramount Plus as NBC experienced success moving AP Bio over to Peacock.

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