Every year, early May is a stressful time for TV fans. If your favorite show ended up on the bubble, this is the time when the anxiety sets in. You’re waiting on pins and needles to hear if your show has been renewed and will live on to see another season.
This year, there are a lot of series on the bubble. Some deserve to be there after a shitty season, but some of them still have us scratching our heads in confusion as to how they ended up there at all — yes, we’re talking about Timeless.
So, we gathered a few writers and TV fans to discuss which shows deserve to die a painful death and which ones absolutely need another season, lest we be the ones who might die of a broken heart.
Bad news first: Which “bubble” shows, if any, deserve a date with death?
Shana: I can’t believe I’m saying this, especially after we were all so in love with it less than a year ago, but Lucifer has simply got to go. This season started out with so much promise but then devolved into one of the most out-of-character, horribly-written love triangle fiascos of all time. The series’ characters have been rewritten, to the point of damage, in order to fit the plot — which is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done — and the plot itself is…not good. At all. It’s bad. Very bad.
Chloe Decker is a detective, so she should be able to detect that something isn’t right with this situation. Somehow, though, she’s devolved from the strong, intelligent woman Lucifer fell in love with to…well. Quite frankly, she’s an idiot at this point. Add to it that she even overheard everything Lucifer said on her birthday while she was “sleeping,” and she’s not only an idiot but also kind of cruel. That’s not Lucifer’s original characterization of her — quite the opposite, in fact.
As long as we’re talking about people being cruel and idiotic, here’s another one that I can’t believe I even have to mention at this point: The X-Files. No, Chris Carter, you can’t write anymore. No, your series won’t survive without Gillian Anderson, who is done and should be allowed to make this decision about her life and her career without the outside pressure and guilting of teasing fans with more. No, David Duchovny, The X-Files won’t survive with a Mulder but no Scully, especially considering the bizarre way the most recent season was slapped together. Just stop talking about it. Everyone. Literally nobody with taste wants this.
I mean, considering how awful the treatment of Scully was with Gillian there, I don’t even want to think about how Mr. Old White Man will abuse her even more — and then actually have the nerve to mansplain to female fans what is and isn’t rapey — without the actress there to at least deliver her stellar, series-saving performances. Just. Kill. It.
Logan: I cannot say that any of the shows on the bubble this year have ever criminally offended me. But I will say that I’m at a complete loss as to what happened to Lucifer. I gave up on it fairly early this season — and that’s after being extremely excited about the idea of Tom Welling being on my television again. (Smallville was my ride or die show for so long.) But I just could not stick it out. The series is reminding me of Sleepy Hollow at this point, and that show needed to die sooner than it did. So, unless Lucifer can pull a severe U-turn to correct the damage that’s been wrought, it’s probably best we all let it go.
The other bubble show that I have a hard time even believing earned a season two renewal is Taken. I am very sorry if you are a fan of this show, but I am not. I was shocked when it was picked up for a season two. The writing is weak, and the acting more so. I believe this one is on the way out due to the sudden way NBC moved it to the summer schedule, and that is probably a very smart decision. As much as I loved Limitless, I think it proved, long before Taken, that turning a movie concept into a television series is more difficult than it seems. Some shows are up to the task; some aren’t. I’m sure you can gather which end of the spectrum I feel Taken belongs to.
Lizzie: I have no strong emotions in this regard. I have not kept up with Lucifer, so I can’t even hate it as much as other people do. Of the shows I watch/have watched, I’d say Designated Survivor is mostly boring. But they’re not going to cancel Kiefer anyway, so why are we even talking about it?
And Rise deserves a good death. Or a bad death. Either way, kill it with fire. Maybe if they’d kept the main character’s storyline instead of turning him straight so people could “relate,” then people would have related more. FUNNY HOW THAT WORKS.
Anam: Ditto on The X-Files. Just stop. You cannot continue without Scully. You shouldn’t have continued in the first place, if you were going to pull the shit you did with William’s parentage. Gillian is done. So is The X-Files. Bye.
I would also cancel The Resident. There are way too many medical dramas out there; and, when it comes to new medical dramas, The Good Doctor is far superior. Not to mention, The Resident‘s writers decided that throwing a powerful black female CEO under the bus and replacing her with an old white man — who is basically the kiss of death — was a good idea. No. No it’s not. Take a note from Shonda Rhimes who glorifies women of color on the screen. This was a bad call. I’m even more heated because Claire is portrayed by Merrin Dungey — whom I adore — but actor aside, you don’t pull this crap.
Quantico also needs the boot. It was fun in the beginning, but it’s lost its mojo. And yes, I know it just started. I could maybe give it time to pick up the pace… but nah. With the amount of quality TV out there, this series is now less than mediocre and should bow out with whatever dignity it has left.
Luci: The only bubble show that needs to die for me is Lucifer, and I say this with a heavy heart. I binge watched this series last summer and completely fell in love with it. It was funny; it had complex characters and good writing — all the hallmarks of a great TV show. But that was when the seasons were shorter; and I truly believe that part of the problem in Lucifer season 3 was that it had way too many episodes and not a hell of a lot of story to tell.
This season started out okay, but then the writers slowly started murdering characters I loved. Not in the literal sense, no. They just made characters do completely out-of-character shit. Linda and Amenadiel suddenly getting together? Sure, that was unexpected, but I didn’t care that much. But then they had Maze — my beloved Maze, my favorite demon — go batshit crazy in jealousy for a guy she didn’t give two craps about during the entire second season.
Then, they made Chloe out to be the dumbest detective in the history of the LAPD. What the hell happened to that savvy Detective Chloe Decker, who was one of the top officers in her precinct? How can she not suspect something weird is going on with Lucifer, and how in the world don’t her spidey senses suspect that there’s something off about Pierce? And then she suddenly had a huge crush on the guy? And then she was dating him? And then they were getting married?
I mean, WTF?
And through all of that, Chloe still doesn’t know the truth about Lucifer. The show’s creative team sacrificed all of its characters for the sake of plot; and they all died a very painful, unnecessary death.
I have no idea what happened, but the writing on Lucifer became so atrocious that it felt like bad fanfiction, only for real — like an out of control high speed train about to crash. Crash it did, and it has not been pretty ever since. And you know what the irony is? Just a few months ago, I wrote an article gushing about how this show was fantastic and more people should be watching it.
I have no idea how they’re going to fix this mess by the end of the season, but I have 100% checked out. Lucifer can go die. Yes, I’m bitter. And furious.
Cammie: I’ve cross-listed the USA Today list of bubble shows with those listed by Mr. Television Grim Reaper himself as possibly canceled…and found myself staring at a good long list of mostly shows I don’t watch. Not to offend, but who has even heard of Superior Donuts? What the **** are Living Biblically and AP Bio? So, that was too easy. I needed to narrow those lists down to the series I actually watch. Here’s a couple of shows I, personally, watch and enjoy, that can get the axe with justification.
First up: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now, I love a good number of characters on this series. FitzSimmons is a brilliant ship. Skye/Daisy has been a really cool character to watch develop if you squint and ignore the Joss-Whedon-is-obsessed-with-hot-young-superheroines-with-daddy-issues vibes all over it. Early on, Melinda May was dealt a poor hand with writing, but she still managed to deliver a badass character due to sheer talent from the Ming-Na Wen. Etc, etc. There’s some potential there in the cast to go on to cool stories.
Here’s why I don’t need Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be given that opportunity: They waste it. They’ve been given 5 seasons and in every single one, at least half of the season is wasted time, only ending strong for a finale or sweeps month. Time is wasted with irrelevant plot lines, villain premises that are temporary and a reach at best, spin-offs that never happen, either romance we don’t want or the absence of romance we do want, and then the show pulls a fantastic plot line or team scene or high-stakes moment out of nowhere, and we’re invested again and expected to believe that the 30% of good moments make up for the 70% or so of skippable ones. In the 5 seasons of this series, the writers could have developed the journey of everyone on the team so much more than they have, but they’ve banked on having more time and wasted a good chunk of that time, thus far, on irrelevant or unengaging content. Now, they may not have the time to wrap things up without rushing — but so be it. They had their chance, and we can still celebrate the fantastic moments we did get from the show.
Second up: The Blacklist
I’m cheating a bit here because I’m quite behind on The Blacklist, but as I did watch a good few seasons, I feel like I can count it among the shows I watch but would sacrifice.
Here’s the thing: This series had so much potential to be so much more interesting than it is. There’s a monologue Red has in a boiler room early on (“with survival, they became hideous”) that sort of set the tone for what the journey in this show was going to be about. And then…And then. We had the problem of Tom; and in exchange for his short-lived spin-off, the primary show sold out a lot of the character development for their leads. And I’m not sure The Blacklist ever really came back from that — certainly not in terms of number of viewers. So, they were left holding on to their last little mysteries, and mysteries alone won’t get a show a renewal. We won’t hold on to a show forever because they won’t tell us things. We hold on to a show forever because they are telling us things. Imagine those last two sentences were said as if I were talking to a toddler because that’s what I feel like when trying to help this show help itself. Anyway, it can gracefully exit.
And now the good news: Which shows absolutely need to be renewed? Go off!
Shana: Ok, let’s be real for a minute here: This whole roundtable was a not-so-cleverly-disguised excuse to beg for Timeless to stay on the air. It’s the only bubble show that I care about it, and it’s just…This series is special in so many ways. The writing is strong, the acting is phenomenal, and the stories…THE STORIES. While sometimes not always going as hard as they should (I needed more on how the women’s suffrage movement was white as fuck than just the clear optics…), the Timeless writers also make sure not to whitewash or shy away from the uncomfortable aspects of history.
We’ve learned so much about so many historical figures that may otherwise have been forgotten — especially of the female and people-of-color varieties — and that’s something that you just can’t get anywhere else on television. Every single character on Timeless matters, whether a series regular or just someone in the “background” during one of the Time Team’s trips to the past. Rufus is forever getting in good digs about America’s racist history; and he’s doing that as someone who is 100% an equal part of the team. The same goes for Jiya. Or Agent Christopher. Or even Garcia Flynn at this point.
And none of our moral dilemmas are ever black-and-white. That’s important. Flynn started out as the “bad guy,” yet he’s not exactly inherently evil; then, there’s Wyatt’s impossible decision with the bizarre return of Jessica.
…I guess what I’m saying here is that Timeless is special. It deserves to exist out there in the television world, so I hate the idea of losing it; and I know we were already gifted with a second season? But if lightning can strike just one more time…Please? PLEASE.
Basically, Imma need a drink if this thing dies. So, I hope Lucy and Flynn can make a spot for me on the couch!
Logan: Top priority for the folks at NBC should be renewing Timeless. The series has proven itself two seasons in a row now. It has a loyal fan base and a diverse cast and crew; it’s socially conscious and attracts a wide range of ages to appeal to those demographics networks love so much. Timeless‘ live numbers are not the best, but it more than makes up for that with its delayed viewing numbers. The live numbers are also easily fixable by giving the series an earlier timeslot. I cannot comprehend the decision to start this show at 10 PM on a Sunday — and opposite March Madness, no less.
This is a family show that should be on at least two hours earlier. If the SOS poll by USA Today taught us anything, it’s that over 50% of those polled, between the ages of 13 and 69, want more Timeless. The beginning and end of that age range would more likely watch live with an earlier timeslot.
So, NBC, you’ve got a quality series that’s rated Fresh, according to Rotten Tomatoes, and tells important untold stories about our history in an endearing, relevant way. The socially conscious storytelling that I mentioned earlier can only add to the quality of the NBC brand. If I could only pick one bubble show to save out of the plethora of bubble shows, it would be this one. There is no other bubble show that so completely understands quality more than Timeless. NBC’s executives would be fools to let this series be shopped around to another network. They absolutely cannot let it go.
In the vein of relevant, socially conscious, endearing storytelling, I would be failing the nation if I didn’t also rave about Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I am shocked that B99 is even on the bubble at all! The series manages to be hysterically funny every week and never cross a line into crass or stereotypical. And it’s so wonderfully diverse. The ensemble cast is insanely talented. This is a sitcom at the top of its game — and a sitcom that is schooling all other ensemble sitcoms. B99 deals with LGBT issues, women’s issues, and race issues. It’s all done with such class, yet never heavy-handed. This show is a miracle, if I’m being honest. It’s a combination of things that could be tragic with even one misstep. Thankfully, the team at Brooklyn Nine-Nine never makes those. A world without this show is not a world I want to live in. Do the right thing, Fox. Renew it.
And lastly, I feel required to mention The Brave. I know it seems we have a wide selection of military/special forces shows on TV right now, but The Brave is special. The series is breaking barriers and fighting stereotypes, all while showcasing a team-as-family angle that touches my heart. The acting on this show is top notch. The writing is intriguing and challenging. And every week, this team’s missions leave you on the edge of your seat.
This show features three strong women, who are never boxed in to being one type of person. They are both soft and fierce all at once. They stand toe-to-toe with males on the show and never back down. There is no sense of their sex affecting their work; and honestly, as a female viewer, that is a beautiful thing. I would renew this show just based on these well-written women alone. NBC, I would forgive all your other trespasses against me if you would be so wonderful as to give me more of The Brave and Timeless both.
Lizzie: Clearly, we all agree about Timeless. It makes no sense that this is a bubble show because it’s the best show on TV. It has a crappy timeslot and way less promotion than it deserves; and yet, every person I’ve recommended it to has loved it. Plus, it’s a culturally relevant, smart show that critics adore. And I have personally prepared pitchforks in case NBC wants to be stupid again. We can agree on a time and a place if needed.
Anam: I would keep Good Girls and Splitting Up Together. Good Girls is hilarious. The chemistry between Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman is beautiful to watch. The dramatic aspects they bring in are heart wrenching. The finale set it up nicely for them to keep the story going.
Splitting Up Together is one of those feel-good shows that you want to curl up and watch when you’re having a bad day. There isn’t any major drama like on Grey’s Anatomy or any unnecessary violence; it’s a feel good comedy. It’s current in that the writers bring in current events and relay them in a comedic sense that still gets the point across. Sometimes, with all the crazy out there, you just want something light and airy to unwind to. This is that show.
Luci: Timeless is a given. I still don’t understand why it’s even a bubble show, when it’s clearly one of the best shows on TV right now. It’s smart and socially conscious; and it’s contributing so, so much to education and culture — to the point that teachers are bringing it to their classrooms, using it to help students connect with history. Just that fact alone should be enough to keep this show alive, but it’s also TV of the highest quality.
It’s getting high praise from critics; the freaking Smithsonian is recapping it every week, giving it the highest compliments; it’s got a diverse cast and crew, telling stories about diverse people in history that often get overlooked. The writing is absolutely phenomenal. Timeless tells relevant stories, and it’s such a well rounded and fantastically produced show. It’s got drama, action, adventure, comedy, romance — everything.
And if that wasn’t enough, Timeless features a stellar cast with an out-of-this-world chemistry that can make anything work. I have no idea why this wasn’t a sure renewal; but regardless, the hardcore fanbase has been pushing and supporting the show like nothing I have ever seen before. Sure, the ratings haven’t been all that great, but NBC gave it a horrible time slot — Sunday at 10pm. Are you kidding me? — but delayed viewings and a phenomenal social media presence more than make up for it.
So, NBC, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, please just renew Timeless already, and put us out of our misery and constant state of anxiety.
Cammie: The only shows I watch and would to keep watching, which also made it through the cross-listing of the Save Our Shows poll and the Grim Reaper, are Designated Survivor and Brooklyn 99. And I’d like to keep them for very different reasons.
Brooklyn 99 is a fun show; it’s entertaining. Let’s start with that: This is not a guilt-trippy it’s-good-for-you, eat-your-spinach type of show, where we all kind of force ourselves to get into it the way we all force ourselves to get into the latest superfood that’s supposed to clear our skin and solve all social justice issues or whatever. Brooklyn 99 will entertain you and make you happy — it’s that simple.
Brooklyn 99 has a diverse cast and creative team, and it’s so nice to see, for example, a Black gay captain, a bisexual Latina detective, and fun, complex female characters who are good, bad, and sometimes in between. So, I want this show renewed because its *excellent comedy*. Ok, do not get me wrong about that. I don’t need to twist anyone’s arm to watch it to support underrepresented groups — you’ll like it because it’s fun and funny. And hopefully, because you’ll see yourself in some of the characters in it, because it’s a widely creative show that has effectively created many not-carbon-copies-of-each-other-or-of-ever-buddy-cop-show characters. And I hesitate to use the “should be renewed” terminology because, well, @ Fox, you do you, there’s no right or wrong here; but I’d like to keep watching it, and none of the other current Fox shows really hit that mark for me. And we’re currently in a bit of a long-running-comedy drought, with only two or three really good half-hour comedies being around across all major networks. So, it might be a good idea to keep this one a bit longer. That’s my pitch.
Designated Survivor has everything — except ships — totally nailed. No uncouth puns intended. The premise of the show is intriguing, the execution has been fantastic; and somehow in under two seasons, we’ve been given quite a high number of characters to care about — and it’s worked. Everything except the romance is solid; and frankly, a couple things developing right now make me wonder if they’ve perhaps got a long-game plan for that, too. Political shows can often bore audiences — including me — but Designated Survivor has effectively blended mystery, action, drama, family, and even some comedy here and there. And I find myself appreciating how well the writers use the micro (within episode) and macro (within season) time. I’m not exactly sure why the viewership is low enough for it to put the series within the bubble zone, but I understand it’s clearly not reaching the masses the way it has appealed to me, and I suppose I’m just not sure why. If the viewership is not high enough for ABC, I can respect a cancellation choice; I just personally would love to see more. But I know ABC does not make network TV just for me, solo.
Bonus shout out here: Good Girls is likely renewed, as it’s within the top 50% of shows for NBC and most prediction sites predict renewal for it; but if it is at all considered a bubble show, that’s definitely the top spot for renewal for me. It’s not just the best among the bubble shows, it’s also the best new show this season. It’s addictive and adult (thank you, NBC, for that 10pm timeslot!), funny and high-stakes, and it absolutely keeps you engaged the entire episode. This show, remarkably, wastes no time. Whether you’re usually drawn to some good ships, or to a good sisterhood, or to some crime and drama, or you just want the kind of series that pairs perfectly with wine and can actually get you to laugh, like, in real life, this is it. Christina Hendricks is god. Overall, the cast is incredible. During some scenes, I actually stopped breathing! Good Girls is a good, good show.
Also, I hope everyone’s favorite show gets renewed and everyone lives happily ever after. 🙂
…but it’s cancellation/renewal week, so that’s not gonna happen, friends. Strap in.
Which bubble shows would you keep or kill? Sounds off in the comments!