By James Hibberd
Updated November 02, 2014 at 09:00 PM EST

The cast of Fox’s Utopia is going to have to return to the real world ahead of schedule. The network has decided to cancel the freshman series, originally announced as a reality experiment that would last a whole year. Instead it survived less than two months, having severely underperformed in the ratings.

Fox will pull the Friday night series from its schedule starting this week. It will be replaced by encore episodes of Masterchef Junior. The show’s online live feeds will also shut down later today, though it’s highly unlikely they will show the cast being informed of the show’s cancellation. The cast is expected to receive post-production counseling before being returned to their regular lives.

Previously Fox had moved the series from its Tuesday night slot to Friday, a night when a lower rating is more survivable. But last Friday’s episode dropped to only 1.6 million viewers and a 0.7 rating among adults 18 to 49.

Utopia stranded a group of strangers in a remote California location to build a more perfect society. It was considered a big gamble for Fox–a pricy stab at a reality concept that largely eschewed the competition elements central to most broadcast network reality hits.

The axing comes at a time when networks have had little luck in launching new reality shows, extending a streak of several years when they’ve been unable to break a new hit.

Also on the fall TV cancellation front: On Friday, NBC announced it was halting the production of new comedies Bad Judge and A to Z after 13 episodes, and last month ABC outright axed freshman comedy Manhattan Love Story.