A lot of gay folks and their friends are out of jobs today and there will be much less gay representation on TV this fall. ABC has announced that Happy Endings has been canceled and NBC has given the ax to both the comedy The New Normal and its musical drama Smash. All three series had struggled for ratings.
Loosely based on co-creator Ryan Murphy’s relationship with husband David Miller, The New Normal followed a loving gay couple (Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells) and their struggle to have a child through a surrogate. The sitcom had drawn the ire of conservative groups for both its depiction of a modern family and for tackling such hot-button issues as gays in the Boy Scouts. It marks the first series from Murphy, whose resume includes Glee, American Horror Story and Nip/Tuck, to not survive past a first season. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, that while the “April season finale was penned to serve as a potential series finale, producers said that a second season would have featured the newly married couple raising their newborn son.”
Smash, another NBC casualty, premiered in early 2012 to almost unprecedented expectations. The behind-the-scenes look at the staging of a Broadway musical had quite a pedigree with producers Steven Spielberg, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the songwriting team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, as well as an award-winning cast that featured Debra Messing, Angelica Huston, Jennifer Hudson and Christian Borle. The writing of the series quickly became a target for critics and the term “hate-watching” was coined for viewers who continued to tune in each week.
ABC’s ensemble comedy Happy Endings, however, had been a critical favorite. It had developed a small but passionate cult following and was loved by queer viewers primarily for straight actor Adam Pally’s stereotype-shattering gay character Max (right). ABC had moved the series around on its schedule numerous times in hopes of attracting more viewers but without much success. There’s been discussion of a cable network, possibly USA, picking up the half-hour series for a fourth season.
Also getting the boot is Reba McEntire’s sitcom Malibu Country, which co-starred out performers Lily Tomlin and Jai Rodriguez. ABC canceled the series after one season.