Words by Alec BojaladIn the promos for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s upcoming ninth season, the cast appear to be in a dreary black and white Scandavian melodrama, speaking in Swedish about languishing night after night. Impressively, they never break back into English, even at the end when they announce they will the show will be appearing on “FXX” as opposed to the usual “FX.”
One could be forgiven for thinking that the extra “X” in “FXX” is just some mechanic of the Swedish language where all network names have letter added to the end of them. But the reality is that It’s Always Sunny, along with several other successful FX comedies will be jumping ship from the successful FX to the brand new Fox property FXX.
Very few networks are in as solid a position as FX, a brand that has created a real identity based off of excellent HBO-esque dramas and crude, hilarious comedies. It appears though, that the next step for the station that’s perhaps reached its pinnacle is to split its hand like in Blackjack.
FXX, which debuts September 2 with an all-day Parks and Recreation marathon, is NewsCorp’s attempt accomplish the rarest of achievements: create a brand new network that is a Nielsen ratings success from day one on. With recognizable comedy hits like It’s Always Sunny and The League to go along with promising upstarts Legit and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, FXX should hit the ground running.
But why would FX chip away at its own bottom line to create a new network from scratch? Money, undoubtedly. But the even shorter answer is that the channel technically already exists and is likely included in your cable package right now. Fox Entertainment Group owns both FX and the Fox Soccer channel. In January of 2013, Fox Soccer lost its right to broadcast English Premier League soccer matches in the U.S., effectively rendering it useless.
Fox Entertainment went to their Winston Wolf-style “fixer,” FX President John Landgraf (Roger Ailes is Marsellus Wallace in this analogy) to come up with a new network to replace the now defunct Fox Soccer channel. Landgraf decided that the best course of action would be to take FX, the Fox Entertainment property running most economically and double it. FXX should operate essentially as “FX 2” and give Fox an opportunity to double down on experimental comedies that have worked so well for them in the past. It isn’t official yet that FX will be the “drama channel” and FXX will be the “comedy channel” but so far it looks to be trending that way even with FX holding on to Archer, Louie and Wilfred for the time being.
Plus FXX has assembled a murderer’s row of syndicated comedy that reads like a sitcom nerd’s (or Netflix’s) wet dream, including: Parks and Rec, Sports Night, Spin City, Mad About You, HIMYM, Rescue Me, Arrested Development and Freaks and Geeks.
It’s a gamble for sure but with an established stable of successful comedies and more to come* FXX could very well replace Comedy Central as viewer’s default “let’s see what else is on” channel.
* — The first new show that FXX has ordered will be Chozen, an animated comedy from Danny McBride and Archer creator Adam Reed.