By Amy Ryan
Updated July 29, 2020 at 04:21 PM EDT
Credit: CBS

I’m sorry to learn that CBS has yanked The Ex List (pictured) from its schedule after just four airings, since I like star Elizabeth Reaser and since the show was, according to EW critic Gillian Flynn’s review, worthy of a B+ grade. Of course, I have to go by Gillian’s review because I never got around to watching the show, and apparently, neither did too many other people. You’d think there would be an audience for a romantic dramedy like this, but you’d be wrong, and CBS should have known that, given the sad history of similar programs.

TV critics, advertisers, and network executives will all tell you that TV is a female-friendly medium (especially when compared to, say, mainstream Hollywood movies). It presents women with images of themselves that are, collectively at least, more well-rounded, diverse, and fully developed than the arm-candy female characters on the big screen, which is why Holly Hunter, Kyra Sedgwick, and Glenn Close are all small-screen stars now. And yet these hour-long dramedies with romance-themed plots haven’t drawn an audience since Ally McBeal; The Ex List follows such shows as Men in Trees and Miss Match to the TV scrap heap. It can’t help that all three of these programs aired on Friday nights, when young women craving romance are more likely to be out on the town than staying home to watch TV.

Aside from a better timeslot, then, what will it take for TV to create a smart, female-friendly, romance-driven series that lasts? Any suggestions, PopWatchers?