Last week was quite the the week in television. First, the bloodletting: the cancellation of 25+ shows on the major networks, with 19 of those cancellations happening in the span of just 24 hours. Then come upfronts, the networks’ first opportunity to present their fall line-ups, including all their new projects, to prospective advertisers. The line-ups offer us the first glimpse at which pilots made the cut and which ones we get to lament (probably) never seeing on the small screen. There was a lot, but just in case you missed something — and if you’re looking for the gay it was easy to miss, there was so little of it — I’ve got you covered.
ABC seems to have found their brand and is, stubbornly, sticking to it, so not much has changed for the fall. The network’s only pick-ups look like retreads of shows that we’ve already seen before. Whiskey Cavalier? A repackaged version of The Catch. Grand Hotel? Jane the Virgin if we spent all our time at the Marbella. The Kids Are Alright? The Real O’Neals, with a lead character that’s too young to start any off-screen hi-jinks.
There were only two real surprises for me, among ABC’s upfront offerings: first, the schedule change for Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless to Friday nights. The move puts Nicole and her tuxedo wearing posse opposite the newly revived Last Man Standing on FOX, which is just more reason to add Fresh Off the Boat to your list of must-watch shows. The second surprise came in the form of a renewal for the newest Shondaland property, For the People. The charming series about attorneys in the Southern District of New York, which features a queer character (Kate Littlejohn) and queer actors among the cast (Jasmin Savoy Brown and Caitlin Stasey), has struggled in the ratings — the show that held its timeslot previously, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World had better ratings and was cancelled — and pretty much everyone, myself included, thought it would be cancelled. Hopefully the show’s first season pops up on Netflix so it can grow its audience during the summer.
Meanwhile, ABC missed the opportunity to pick-up some intriguing pilots like the Kylie Bunbury-led reboot of Get Christie Love (#StillMadAboutPitch) or Robin Roberts and Regina King’s sisterly drama, The Finest. How does ABC say no to Robin Roberts, the host of their morning show and one of the most beloved women in the world? The network also passed on one of my most anticipated shows, The Greatest American Hero from Fresh Off the Boat‘s Nahnatchka Khan. We could’ve had an Indian-American woman as a superhero (!!) but, apparently, the network’s gunshy about getting back into the superhero game after the failure of Inhumans and Agent Carter.
In addition to presenting the schedule for the network, ABC also offered a glimpse into what fans can expect on Freeform in the fall. The polyamorous horror mermaid series, Siren, earned a 16-episode second season, while Freeform added Besties, a new project from Kenya Barris (grown-ish), and The Perfectionists, the Pretty Little Liars spin-off, to its fall line-up.
So, Mona’s still Mona and Alison is not with her wife and children? OKAY.
CBS is trying, y’all. After continually being hammered by the members of the Television Critics Association for the lack of diversity in its fall schedule, the network seems to be making an effort at making the nation’s most watched network more reflective of the nation that watches it. All six of the network’s new fall shows have female and/or people of color as leads. Even if none of the shows look that interesting to me — it’s CBS afterall — the network is clearly making an effort at diversifying.
Is there any gay? Not as far as I can tell but S.W.A.T., which won a second season renewal, took its time in revealing Chris Alonso as its resident bisexual badass, so I’m hoping CBS’s new fall fare takes a similar tact. That said, while we may not have any confirmed gays, we do have the glorious return of Missy Peregrym to our TVs…and with a Rookie Blue reunion with her training officer, no less:
Angus the Manny as a white supremacist? That’s what happens when Pam Grier breaks up with you, I guess…it’s all just downhill from there.
I was disappointed to see Gloria Calderon Kellett’s (One Day at a Time) new series, History of Them, not get picked up at CBS, though she reports that the show’s still being shopped around to networks. Also, a little sad, but not really surprised, to see the Cagney and Lacy reboot not get picked up, as the show would’ve been the first post-Grey’s Anatomy work for Sarah Drew. I’m still waiting for word on Pandas in New York, a show with the potential to offer groundbreaking representation for Indian-American families a la The Cosby Show.
The biggest news from FOX came from two cancellations — Brooklyn 99 and Lucifer — and one of its pickups, Last Man Standing. Thankfully, 31 hours after its cancellation at FOX, B-99 earned a rare reprieve: NBC picked the show up for a 16-episode sixth season. It’s a perfect fit, as the show now returns to its owner — Universal Television, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal — shares a home with the other comedies of its creator Mike Schur (The Good Place and the forthcoming Abby’s). Rosa Diaz will live to gawk at women for another season.
The loss of Lucifer along withThe Mick at FOX means that we’re down two ladies — Maze and Sabrina, respectfully — in the LGBT representation department…a loss that reverberates even more, given that FOX’s new fall slate skews heavily male (only Proven Innocent boasts a female lead) and, from what I can tell, heavily straight. AND THEY HAD JUST GIVEN SABRINA A GIRLFRIEND! The Lucifer cancellation was more of a surprise for me — once a show’s been on for three seasons, the fourth season is usually a virtual certainty, as a fourth season usually means a syndication deal, and networks are able to recoup more of their investment. I’m mystified that Gotham earned a fifth season, while Lucifer and The Mick end their runs.
Ilene Chaiken’s new project, No Apologies, wasn’t picked up for the fall but, after some retooling, is still in contention to appear on FOX’s midseason schedule. How can FOX pass on a pilot that features Joey Potter Katie Holmes in her return to television? I hope it works out for Ilene, if for no other reason than to ensure that she’s far too busy to have any involvement whatsoever in The L Word reboot.
One of the more frustrating aspects of pilot season/upfronts is seeing who is afforded second or third chances and who can’t even get one. Ryan Eggold, who I’m sure is a lovely man, started his tenure with NBC on the show Blacklist and the executives at the network were so enamored with him, they gave him his own spin-off, Blacklist: Redemption (which I watched only because it featured Annalise’s girlfriend Famke Janssen). Redemption fails after one season but, since the network is convinced that Eggold is a draw, he rejoins the cast of Blacklist until — spoiler alert! — his character dies. But fear not, because if you didn’t like Ryan Eggold as a covert operative, surely, you’ll love him as a doctor on NBC’s new fall program, New Amsterdam.
Compare that to the biggest surprise of the pilot pick-ups: NBC’s failure to order L.A.’s Finest, the Bad Boys spin-off featuring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba, to series. Eggold, who has already failed as a lead for an NBC show, gets another shot at helming a show, but Union, who helmed a successful show on BET for four seasons and who just turned a low budget, slapdash movie (Breaking In) into a success, does not. Thankfully, L.A.’s Finest is still being shopped elsewhere and may still see the light of day, but still…it’s so absurd?! But I digress…
Aside from the Brooklyn 99 pick-up, which won’t debut on NBC until midseason, the network’s new shows don’t feature any readily apparent LGBT representation. Still, though, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for at least one LGBT character on New Amsterdam or the other midseason newbie, The Village.
The CW is expanding: for the first time since 2009, the network will return to competition with other broadcast networks by putting original programming back on its Sunday schedule, starting with the debut of Supergirl‘s fourth season and the reboot of the cult classic, Charmed. The reboot, which has been met with skepticism from some of the show’s original cast (to put it mildly), features three Latina sisters and this time one of them is a lesbian!
To bolster the network’s standing with advertisers, the CW has brought all their superhero shows back for the fall season, instead of holding one or more for a midseason debut, as they usually do. Legends of Tomorrow, with new series regular, Jes Macallan, helms the network’s Monday night line-up, while Black Lightning‘s Nafessa Pierce returns to Tuesday nights.
But perhaps the biggest news from the CW’s DC Universe is the announcement that Batwoman (AKA Kate Kane) will be part of this year’s crossover event. The character, first introduced in 1956, was reimagined in 2010 in The New 52 series as a Jewish lesbian. It’ll be interesting to see how/if Batwoman’s sexuality and history with Alex Danvers’ former flame, Maggie Sawyer, comes into play in the crossover event.
The CW cancelled Life Sentence and Valor, both of which featured LGBT characters, however intermittently, but granted a reprieve for the critically acclaimed, though ratings challenged, series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Valencia and Beth will live to sing another day! Likewise, we’ll get to see more of Petra and JR (and hopefully, Rose and Luisa) as Jane the Virgin returns for its fifth and final season…though the CW is holding Jane and two of its other new shows, In the Dark and Roswell, New Mexico for midseason.