US TV Bubble Watch 2021 – Which Shows May Get Cancelled Or Renewed?
As we head out of April, we are hurtling towards the US TV Upfronts in mid-May where they announce all their new seasons. Before that comes the dreaded TV Bloodbath, where the US network hack their way through those shows which have fallen behind and they have decided are beyond saving…
Just to give you some idea of where your favourite shows may stand in the upcoming melee, we bring you our US TV Bubble Watch, where we take a look at dramas and comedies on the “Big 5” US networks and see which series we think are returning, and which you should be worried about… What is safe, and what is “on the bubble”?
Unlike a lot of the US networks which have been drip-feeding some renewals and cancellations, ABC has yet to decide anything with their current crop of comedies and dramas, with the exception of ‘Stumptown’, which was initially renewed, then cancelled due to COVID-related production delays, and sitcom ‘United We Fall’ which was killed last August after 8 episodes. Based on the ratings, we can get some idea of where the rest of the shows possibly sit.
‘Big Sky’ is pretty much a cert for renewal, given it has been a massive hit for the network, and has been popular internationally on STAR. ‘The Good Doctor’ is also likely to return, along with ‘Black-ish’, and ‘The Conners’. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Station 19’ are also extremely likely to be back – negotiations are currently underway, and it’s possible we may see some sort of multi-season renewal there, but we’ll have to wait and see. Whatever happens in the negotiations, I don’t see Disney canning ‘Greys’ and incurring a huge amount of fan outrage, so it’s going to come back one way or another.
UPDATE: 04/05/21 – ‘The Good Doctor’ has now been renewed for Season 5.
The numbers for new Katey Sagal drama ‘Rebel’ maybe aren’t as good as they would like, but It’s still early, so I think it’s probably to land a pick-up. ‘The Goldbergs’ is a solid performer, but it’s also 8 seasons in, which is a great run for any sitcom. I think it’ll be back for at least one more season. ‘A Million Little Things’ will probably land a renewal as the ABC brass seem to like it, although its numbers are a little shakey. The last show in this section is Nathan Fillion’s ‘The Rookie’, which we’d mark “safe-ish”. Slightly above a toss-up, but not completely safe either (although that could be wishful thinking on my part, as I love that show.)
Be Concerned About…
‘Mixed-ish’ really hasn’t managed to pull the audience of its parent show and is struggling right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that gets the boot, although the connection to ‘Black-ish’ may save it. Comedy ‘American Housewife’ is doing slightly better than ‘Mixed-ish’, but still a concern. Sitcom ‘Call Your Mother’ is also sat near the bottom of the ratings table, so that seems to be in trouble too. Lastly, legal drama ‘For Life’ was a toss-up last year, and has also seen a large drop in numbers for its 2nd Season, which sadly means it doesn’t look great for a 3rd Season.
CBS has already handed out some renewals and cancellations. ‘Blue Bloods’, ‘Bull’, ‘NCIS’, ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’, ‘Magnum’ & ‘S.W.A.T.’, ‘The Equalizer’, ‘FBI’, ‘FBI: Most Wanted’, ‘Bob Hearts Abishola’, ‘The Neighborhood’ and ‘Young Sheldon’ are all set to return for new seasons. ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ and ‘MacGyver’ have both already been cancelled, and the sitcom ‘Mom’ is ending after 8 seasons. Here is what’s left.
The three comedies, ‘United States of Al’, ‘B Positive’ and ‘The Unicorn’, are probably okay for renewal, but are certainly not 100% safe. On the drama side, the legal series ‘All Rise’ seems likely to land a pick up too. ‘SEAL Team’ has me a little concerned, given the number of posts on David Boreanaz’s Instagram about renewing the show, but I hope it at least gets one more season so it isn’t left on a cliffhanger.
Be Concerned About…
‘Clarice’, the Hannibal Lecter drama… without Hannibal Lecter… does not seem to have connected at all with the CBS audience. It’s a new show, and currently sat towards the bottom of the ratings, which is not a good sign. One thing that may save it, is the fact that it’s from the boss of CBS’s various ‘Star Trek’ shows, Alex Kurtzman, so that influence may keep it on air to see if it can pull its socks up in a second season.
NBC has previously secured renewals for a stack of their biggest properties, handing out three seasons renewals to the ‘Chicago’ franchise, ‘Law & Order: SVU’, and ‘New Amsterdam’ back in 2020, along with three seasons to ‘This Is Us’ in 2019. They also handed a Season 9 renewal to ‘The Blacklist’ back in Jan 2021, and sitcom ‘Mr. Mayor’ in March 2021. It was announced in Feb that ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ would return for a final season, and ‘Superstore’ also ended this season. Comedy ‘Young Rock’ might not quite have got the numbers NBC were hoping for, but did enough to land a renewal (Plus, I mean… do you want to be the exec that has to tell Dwayne Johnson you’re cancelling his show after one season?) Kenan Thompson’s ‘Kenan’ is also renewed. Here are the rest.
The new spin-off series ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ has gotten off to a great start, and seems extremely likely to land a second season.
‘Manifest’ has seen its numbers drop, but it is still sitting mid-table in the ratings, so could be okay for another season. I believe it was in a similar situation last year, and got picked up again, so hopefully, it’ll return.
Be Concerned About…
‘Debris’, the new sci-fi from ‘Almost Human’ creator and ‘Fringe’ writer J.H. Wyman has really struggled to generate much interest, so, unfortunately, could be discarded like… well… debris… ‘Good Girls’ really is not doing well on NBC, however, it does do well on streaming services, so that might, possibly, give NBC a reason to keep it going. The biggest concern is the wonderful ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’… It lost audience in its second season, and is currently languishing at the lower end of the ratings. However, ‘Zoey’s’ does sit in a similar area to our beloved ‘The Good Place’, which wasn’t the highest-rated show either, but NBC kept it around due to the critical and fan love. It’s possible that may just see it through.
FOX has already given the thumbs up to a number of their animated shows – ‘Bob’s Burgers’ and ‘Family Guy’ were both renewed for 2 seasons back in 2020, whilst ‘The Great North’ was renewed for a 2nd Season. ‘Duncanville’ was picked up for a 2nd Season just this month, and ‘The Simpsons’ was renewed for two more seasons in March 2021.
The new live-action series faired less well, with ‘Filthy Rich’ getting the hatchet after one season, along with AI sci-fi drama ‘neXt’ and comedy ‘Bless the Harts’. ‘L.A.’s Finest’ (which was technically a transplant from Spectrum) was also canned after 2 Seasons, and Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’ comes to an end this year. On to the remaining shows…
‘9-1-1’ and its younger sibling, ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ both seem like a safe bet for renewal. ‘The Resident’ also seems extremely likely to return for another season.
‘Call Me Kat’, the US comedy based on beloved British sitcom ‘Miranda’, really hasn’t performed anywhere near as well as FOX expected, especially with ‘Big Bang’s Mayim Bialik leading the cast. It’s currently sat mid-table in the ratings, but FOX has already invested quite a lot of dough getting it to screen, so there is a chance it’ll return. However, don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t…
Be Concerned About…
‘Prodigal Son’, which saw a strong launch last year, has taken a bit of a ratings nosedive in the 2nd Season… It’s currently one of the lowest-rated dramas on the network, which does not bode well for its future. Also, Denis Leary’s ‘The Moodys’ is not yet technically cancelled, but it would take a miracle for FOX to bring it back to life after they pulled it off air, moving the last 3 episodes to June…
Lastly, we come to the fluffiest of US networks, The CW. Much like Oprah handing out cars, The CW renewed nearly all of its shows back in February. That means renewals for ‘The Flash’ (Season 8), ‘Batwoman’ (Season 3), ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ (Season 7), ‘Riverdale’ (Season 6), ‘Charmed’ (Season 4), ‘Roswell, New Mexico’ (Season 4), ‘Dynasty’ (Season 5), ‘All American’ (Season 4), ‘In The Dark’ (Season 4), ‘Legacies’ (Season 4), ‘Nancy Drew’ (Season 3) and ‘Walker’ (Season 2). Then in March, they renewed ‘Superman & Lois’ for Season 2,
Out of their other shows, ‘The Outpost’, which is currently on mid-season break, had 13 episodes added to Season 3 in October 2020. ‘Stargirl’ is already returning for a 2nd Season in August, and new series ‘Republic of Sarah’ doesn’t begin airing until June, so they don’t yet have renewals (although, it’s The CW, so they are both likely to return.)
UPDATE: 04/05/21 – ‘Stargirl’ has now been renewed for Season 3.
That really only leaves ‘Kung Fu’, which is only on its 3rd episode but is a dead cert for a 2nd Season, given it’s one of the highest-rated shows on the network.
UPDATE: 04/05/21 – ‘Kung Fu’ has now been renewed for Season 2.
So, that’s how things look on the “Big 5” US networks. Bear in mind, all of these are predictions, and there are many factors that go into renewals past straight up ratings, e.g. Does the network own the show, or is it “bought-in”? If they own it, does it do well when they sell it internationally or on to streaming services, even if it doesn’t rate well on the network? If they don’t own it, can they do a better deal to reduce the buy-in cost? Can they reduce the production cost? Does the show reach an audience which they can’t get to with another show on the network?
We should know almost all the renewals and cancellations by Friday, 14th May 2021 at the latest, although we’d expect more news to come in before then. Keep an eye on the site for more information as we get it!
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.