Farewell, Kevin Bacon – after three seasons, the actor’s grisly serial killer thriller The Following has been sent to the TV graveyard. Joining it is freshman cop procedural Backstrom, a middling performer for the network, but what’s more surprising is that Fox execs are already putting shovel to dirt in anticipation of a major death in the family: American Idol has been renewed for a fifteenth and final season.
The writing was on the wall for The Following, which steadily lost its audience after a big premiere back in 2013. The show was critically reviled, with particular criticism going toward the gratuitous violence and messy storylines, and that didn’t change much during the currently-airing third season. With big bad Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a mass-murdering mastermind and the subject of a manhunt by FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Bacon), finally getting killed off in a recent episode, Fox brass decided it was time to say goodbye to the series for good.
Backstrom, which starred Rainn Wilson as the irascible but brilliant detective, never seemed like it had much of a shot at a renewal, as it didn’t generate much goodwill from critics or general audiences. Still, the series didn’t exactly flop, holding its own during a 13-episode run. Fox, evidently, decided that its new crop of drama pilots, including a Minority Report adaptation, DC Comics take Lucifer, supernatural-tinged cop drama The Frankenstein Code and medical-themed Rosewood, stood a better chance of engaging audiences than another round with the detective would have.
By announcing the end of American Idol, though, Fox is really shaking things up. One of the most successful reality series ever broadcast, the show has been a Fox staple since 2002, when it was a smash hit in the ratings and transfixed viewers across the nation. Over the years, it’s allowed musicians like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry and Jordin Sparks to get their starts, while also cementing Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest as household names.
Lately, though, American Idol has been on a downward ratings spiral, and only Seacrest is returning for the fifteenth season out of those original judges (Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. now sit on the panel). With the final season pickup, Fox salutes its one-time MVP and reaffirms its confidence in the staying power of series like Empire, Gotham and The Last Man on Earth.
Tell us, will you miss The Following or Backstrom? And would you have kept watching American Idol much longer, or was it time for the series to finally exit stage left?