Flying in the face of conventional wisdom (or at least, what internet pundits, including Style Blog, deem conventional wisdom) network TV went ahead and debuted an unexpectedly high number of romantic comedies this fall. For the first half of the season, unrealistically attractive people finding love despite their goofy friends, controlling bosses, and other improbable mishaps could be found everywhere on the TV schedule. There are a lot of good reasons why rom-coms could fit well in the TV format — more room for plot development, better opportunities for the goofy friends to be goofy — so it seemed like the move might work.
Apparently not. The wave of cancellation announcements that started at the end of last month, when ABC called it quits on “Manhattan Love Story,” has overtaken a number of other rom-coms. ABC’s “Selfie” was also axed (if only the same could be done for actual selfie phenomenon), while NBC announced that it would not be ordering any more episodes of “A to Z” beyond the initial 13.
The romantic comedies posted lackluster ratings from the get-go. “Selfie” premiered with a Neilsen rating of 1.6 in the 18-49 demographic (the people most likely to be watching a show in which the word “hashtag” is spoken out loud and unironically several times an episode), and “Manhattan Love Story'”s rating was a tenth a point lower. On NBC, things were even worse for “A to Z,” which garnered a 1.2 rating in the same demographic.
Does this mean that the pundits were right, that there’s no appetite for feel-good romance anymore? Possibly. Or it could be that this season’s rom-coms just weren’t very good — the words “perfectly acceptable but thoroughly mediocre” come to mind.
There is some good news hopeless romantics: NBC just ordered five additional episodes of “Marry Me,” which is currently the No. 2 broadcast comedy among 18-49 year olds. Here’s hoping this is one relationship that makes it through the honeymoon phase.