FXX, the new FX spin-off channel, has its first cancellation: “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” as first reported by Defamer and confirmed by HitFix. There will be original episodes tonight and tomorrow, and the series will end with one final “Mixtape” edition on Sunday night.
The talk show was one of three series that jumped from FX to FXX when the channel launched in September, expanding from a weekly series to a nightly strip, going head-to-head (for all or half of each episode) with Jon Stewart, Conan, Colbert, Leno, Letterman and Kimmel. (On FX, it had aired at 11:30, meaning it at least avoided “The Daily Show” and the first half of “Conan.”) FXX is available in 26 million fewer homes than FX, and often on obscure spots in cable channel line-ups (since it took over the space left by Fox Soccer, which was tiered with other sports channels), and the ratings for “Totally Biased” cratered. As Deadline noted late last month, a recent Monday installment of the show drew only 12,000 total viewers, and only 4,000 among adults 18-49. Even on nights when it aired after fellow FX emigres “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The League,” it was only averaging 110,000 viewers, less than a third of the audience from the end of its FX run.
Still, this is the second bit of recent news that doesn’t speak well to the idea of expanding the FX brand across multiple channels. Last week, FX announced that “Chozen,” an animated comedy designated as the first wholly-original FXX series, would instead be part of the main channel, airing after “Archer.” (Its spot on the FXX schedule will be filled with decade-old repeats of “Da Ali Go Show.”)
The “Totally Biased” ratings were terrible, and there’s a certain threshold below which cancellation is inevitable for any show on any channel. That said, the whole point of moving “Totally Biased” and turning it into a nightly show was to expand the new channel’s footprint and give it a distinctive and constant voice. “Always Sunny” and “The League” have done okay with the move, but both were much more established, and also only air one night a week for a few months out of the year. If the audience didn’t want to follow Bell and his cohorts to the new channel, then they didn’t want to follow. But with only the modestly-rated “Legit” and those “Ali G” repeats coming up in early 2014, FXX is barely going to have any identity at all, other than a place to watch many excellent reruns of “Parks and Recreation” and “Freaks and Geeks.”
I only watched “Totally Biased” a few times (when I watch latenight at all, it’s the Comedy Central guys), and that was in the FX days – so I am part of the problem – but it seemed like he was carving out a specific, funny, and necessary niche for himself.
For those of you who watched the show, on either the new channel or old, what do you think? Was there enough there to sustain a nightly show? And does anyone at this point have a good idea of what it is that FXX is, exactly?