Being suddenly taken off of a network’s programming schedule, particularly when you still have unaired episodes in the can, places a series in a sort of limbo or purgatory. Typically it’s the first step towards an official cancellation, though not always. For example, Community was yanked from the schedule unceremoniously in October but eventually given an official return date.
ABC’s awkwardly titled Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 now finds itself on the list of shows in this ambiguous situation. Yesterday, ABC pulled the series from the schedule, effective immediately. While this isn’t an official cancellation, series stars James Van Der Beek and Krysten Ritter have both taken to social media with posts indicating that they think the show is gone for good.
The move marks the culmination of a long period of ABC monkeying around with the scheduling of Apartment 23 and its Tuesday night comedy block timeslot partner Happy Endings. The network began with the bizarre strategy of airing both shows twice a week, both in their Tuesday night slots and on Sunday night, but giving next to no promotion explaining this confusing move. Unsurprisingly, both shows got terrible ratings on this new night where no one knew to look for them and they were competing against the likes of all the Sunday night prestige dramas and NFL games. And the new scheduling didn’t improve either show’s Tuesday night ratings either.
Though again I stress that being taken off the schedule is not the same thing as cancellation, the show’s stars certainly seem to be treating it as such. James Van Der Beek first tweet on the subject was “Thanks to all who tuned in. We had a blast making it. Can’t imagine a more fun work environment with better people. But onto the next…” Later, Van Der Beek tweeted his gratitude to ABC for even picking up the show to begin with: “You’ve got to give ABC props for ever picking us up in the first place. They took a shot at something original & edgy. I respect them for it.”
Later, Krysten Ritter posted a tweet which used the dread “c word” itself: “my beloved fans, sad to confirm that it is true. Don’t Trust the B—
#apt23 has been cancelled. thank you so much for your support i love u.”
Effective immediately, ABC will air back-to-back new episodes of Happy Endings on Tuesday nights. Though neither show was performing well by network TV standards, Happy Endings was getting the much better ratings of the two on Tuesday nights. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Happy Endings was getting a 1.4 rating “in the demo” (viewers age 18-49) and 4 million total viewers if you include live viewers plus same day DVR viewings. (So yes, ratings nowadays do account for DVR viewings.) Meanwhile, Apt. 23 was getting 1.2 in the demo plus only 3 million live and same day viewings.
Television critics asked ABC Network Groups President Paul Lee extensive questions about the fate of both shows at the Television Critics’ Association Winter Press Tour event which happened two weeks ago. Lee gave no conclusive comment about the fate of either show at the time but claimed “We love those two shows. They’re incredibly distinctive, and they’re water-cooler shows.” (As an aside I’d like to note that this is a bizarre misuse of the term “water cooler show” which I see people employing more and more often these days. Water cooler shows basically don’t exist anymore. The term used to refer to shows that were so broadly popular that everyone was talking about them the next day around the office water cooler, shows like Seinfeld or say, Survivor, in its heyday. Happy Endings and Apt. 23 are cult, niche shows, shows that probably only one person in a given office watches, i.e. the very opposite of “water cooler shows.”)
Along with giving no official, public word of cancellation ABC has also given no indication as to what will happen with the remaining eight unaired episodes of Apt. 23.