Chances are you didn’t pick up on the news that The CW will be getting out of the comedy business by season’s end. The fledgling network hasn’t had a comedy department for many months and, as a result, there were no half-hours developed for the fall schedule. For now, the 1.73 million fans of the CW’s sitcom The Game (pictured) may get a reprieve: This week, creator Mara Block Akil is expected to pitch her show as an hour-long dramedy in an attempt to save it. Sadly, there’s no such effort being made for the woefully underappreciated Everybody Hates Chris, the CW’s other (hilarious) comedy based on Chris Rock’s childhood. (A network insider says the show, which only attracts 1.71 million viewers, remains on the bubble for now — which is industry code for, it ain’t looking good, people.)
Forget, for a moment, what the loss of The Game and Everybody Hates Chris says about the already sorry state of shows featuring African-American leads. Their impending departure just isn’t good news for the already troubled sitcom genre, which hasn’t produced ratings gold since Chuck Lorre brought us Two and a Half Men in 2003. (That’s certainly no slight to the outstanding Big Bang Theory, another Lorre creation with Bill Prady, but its audience of 10.1 million doesn’t come close to what Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer can still attract.)
And it seems it’ll get worse before it gets better for the genre. We already know NBC will air five fewer hours of programming next season to accommodate Jay Leno’s new yakker; that means less space on the NBC schedule for comedies, especially when their most critically-beloved sitcoms like The Office (9.1 million) and 30 Rock (7.6 million) aren’t exactly rocking the house of Nielsen. Meanwhile, Fox programming chief Kevin Reilly hinted earlier this year that he won’t put on any new comedies this fall unless (a) they’re awesome, and (b) they’re protected with great lead-ins and lots of good promotion (though we have our fingers crossed that he finds room this August for his remake of Absolutely Fabulous). With the “Closed for Repairs” sign going up so much around town at the broadcast nets, its no wonder sitcom writers are finding new life on the kiddie cablers like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.
What do you think? Will you mourn the loss of the CW sitcoms, especially great moments like this one from Everybody Hates Chris?