Evidently, premium cable channels aren’t immune to the cancellation bug, either. Though most news about shows getting pink slips after their first seasons comes courtesy of major networks like NBC and FOX, HBO decided yesterday that it will not be moving forward with second seasons of two of its latest half-hour comedies: Family Tree and Hello Ladies.
Family Tree, a documentary-style comedy that starred Bridesmaids breakout Chris Dowd as a man tracing his lineage and coming to terms with his zany family members, never found much of an audience when it debuted last May. Ratings were consistently low throughout the eight-episode first season, despite warm critical reviews. HBO was clearly hoping to turn Family Tree into a comedy with the cult following of NBC mockumentaries like The Office and Parks and Recreation, but it just didn’t catch on in the way network heads were expecting it to.
The network also cancelled Hello Ladies today. The low-key romantic comedy starred Stephen Merchant as a British man searching for love in modern-day Los Angeles, but it failed to grab attention from either critics or audiences. After starting low in September, it slipped further in the ratings as the season progressed. Like Family Tree, it only ran for eight half-hour episodes. Unlike Family Tree, however, HBO isn’t going cold turkey with the show – Hello Ladies will conclude with a “wrap-up” special at some point in the near future.
After the colossal success of Lena Dunham’s Girls, HBO is clearly looking for more half-hour comedies that could become water-cooler talk, draw big ratings and receive awards attention. With those expectations in mind, it’s clear that neither Family Tree nor Hello Ladies were up to scratch.
Perhaps HBO will reassess its goals for new comedies in light of the failure of both these series and the Jonathan Groff-starring Looking. That series, marketed as Girls for gay men, debuted to extremely lackluster numbers, and prospects for its continued life on the channel seem slim.
However, it hasn’t been all bad news for HBO lately. Getting On, a half-hour comedy set in a dilapidated hospital ward, received extremely positive reviews when it debuted in November. Its six-episode first season maintained solid, if low, ratings, and Big Love alums Mark Olsen and Will Sheffer are involved, which strongly increases chances that the show will see a second season.
Meanwhile, True Detective broke out in a big way earlier this month, drawing 2.3 million viewers to its premiere. That’s a six-year record for a show debut on HBO. The second episode was lower, at 1.67 million viewers, but that can be partially attributed to sports games competing for viewer attention at the same time.
Will you miss either Family Tree or Hello Ladies? Let us know in the comments section!