Well, now we know the entertainment industry if officially topsy-turvy, because ABC just cancelled one of our favorite unofficial holidays of the year: Bloodbath Day, the near-annual event in which the network looks around at the freshman and sophomore shows lingering around on its schedule, gives a collective “Yeeeesh,” and then starts pulling plugs and chopping heads left and right. This television purge/Purge (which, to be fair, all the major networks typically indulge in, to one degree or another) usually lands during the second week of May, right before ABC and its ilk have to solidify their fall schedules for their annual upfront presentations. Except the upfronts are all cancelled this year, of course. And so, tragically, is Bloodbath Day, because ABC just defied the hell out of past precedent by renewing a whopping 13 shows this afternoon.
That includes series that were reportedly on the bubble, stuff like Nathan Fillion’s The Rookie and Cobie Smulders’ Stumptown, plus the Black-ish spin-off Mixed-ish. Some of these renewals are more welcome than others, but they’re all pretty uncharacteristic; where was this leniency when Downward Dog was on the chopping block, huh? Other renewals were less surprising, including the network’s ever-stable, uh, stable of reality series, with The Bachelor, Dancing With The Stars, Shark Tank, 20/20, and the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire all getting extended runs. (These join America’s Funniest Home Videos and American Idol, already renewed, in their general unkillability. Grey’s Anatomy, The Bachelorette, The Good Doctor, and Station 19, too.)
It was also a good day for the network’s comedy slate, usually first in line for Murder Claus’ annual sacrifice soiree. Black-ish, The Conners, American Housewife, and The Goldbergs all scored new seasons, as did the drama project A Million Little Things. Meanwhile, on the actual cancellation front, only 5 shows got their plugs pulled: Schooled, Bless This Mess, Single Parents, Emergence, and Kids Say The Darnedest Things. For Life and Beauty And The Baker, meanwhile, are having the decisions on their fates deferred to a later date, presumably in order to make sure their families cooperate with the network’s demands.
It would be reckless to conclude that all of this sudden clemency comes courtesy of COVID, of course; it’s not like The Connors, the network’s top comedy performer, was going to get the axe, production shutdown or not. But there’s definitely a sense of “Hey, might as well” apparently at work here, as the network seems to be concluding that it’s better to hold on to a moderate performer right now, rather than spend a bunch of time and energy trying to get a new series off the ground in the midst of a crippling quarantine.