We’re getting very close to the upfront announcements, which means that the networks will probably make most of their cancellation and renewal decisions within the next couple of weeks. There are ten freshman sitcoms that haven’t been cancelled yet (while The Goldbergs, The Millers, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine have all been renewed). Here they are ranked, not by their chances of renewal, but from how good they are, worst to best:
10. Mixology — The ABC midseason replacement unfortunately still has an outside shot at renewal, which says a lot about the network right now, as it has become the NBC of three years ago. Mixology is a dreadful, unfunny, and incredibly lame serialized sitcom set in a bar where the characters basically spend all night trying to get laid. I saw the pilot episode, and the most recent episode, and it’s not gotten any better. It’s embarrassingly awful, and it it gets picked up for a second season, there’s talk of rebooting the premise. Ugh.
9. Friends with Better Lives — There are some likable actors in the CBS midseason replacement (Brooklyn Decker, James Van Der Beek, Zoe Lister-Jones) and some unlikable ones (Kevin Connolly), but the series itself is kind of like what would happen if Happy Endings met 2 Broke Girls and they had a baby with the guts born on the outside. As I wrote in a review earlier this week, “It’s like a very bad episode of Friends (ironically, it comes from two former Friends’ writers) written and performed with all the enthusiasm of a popped blister comically oozing pus.”
8. Super Fun Night — I gave this show three tries during the course of its season, and it never improved. Rebel Wilson should not be headlining a sitcom, especially one as badly written and joyless as Super Fun Night. It hasn’t officially been cancelled, but its odds are even worse than Mixology since it couldn’t find an audience despite a major promotional push and the Modern Family lead-in. Rebel Wilson should stick to playing comedic relief characters in much better movies.
7. Dads — It says a lot about how bad the three above sitcoms are that Dads — the worst reviewed pilot of the year (it’s still sitting at 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) — is somehow sitting above them. That’s entirely due to the song they played in the season finale, which was legitimately hilarious, despite the dig it took at Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Dads is a huge long shot at renewal after its season had already been reduced, but it does have Seth MacFarlane’s name on it, and Fox — like ABC — is struggling, so much so that it renewed Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project not because of ratings, but because critics like them. Dads does not have that benefit.
6. Crazy Ones — The Robin Williams’ sitcom with James Wolk and Sarah Michelle Gellar is not a good show, but it’s intermittently watchable thanks to the charms of Wolk. I’d heavily root for its cancellation if it meant that Bob Benson would have a bigger role in the second half of the final season of Mad Men, but since Mad Men is nearly finished filming its entire run, it probably won’t matter. CBS is basically going to choose between this, Friends with Better Lives, and Bad Teacher (which has not yet premiered) as the one sitcom it will renew.
5. About a Boy — I have to admit that About a Boy, which is the one show on this list most likely to be renewed, is slowly starting to grow on me as it finds its feet. It comes from a great showrunner (Jason Katims, Friday Night Lights) and it’s based on solid source material, but it’s only just now realizing that the “Boy” is the weakest aspect of the show. It’s also beginning to play up the fact that Minnie Driver is hot. Speaking of hot, Adrianne Palicki’s arc has been a huge boon to the series of late, too.
4. Growing Up Fisher — I think a lot of folks dismissed Growing Up Fisher initially based on the premise alone (a coming-of-age sitcom about a kid growing up with a blind dad), but JK Simmons has been fantastic in the series, and Jason Bateman’s voiceover narration hides some of the weaknesses of the main kid actor. If it were more about JK Simmons’ character, and less about everyone else (especially Jenna Elfman’s daffy mom), I’d like it even more. It’s chances of renewal are actually pretty good, as its formed a solid ratings block with About a Boy.
3. Trophy Wife — Absolutely the cutest new sitcom of the year, Trophy Wife has a great cast (Bradley Whitford, Malin Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden, Michaela Watkins) and a surprisingly great kid cast. The sitcom has also steadily improved over the course of the season, and now it’s a better version of the sitcom it was trying to duplicate, Modern Family (and really, really deserves the post-Modern Family timeslot). It’s odds of renewal, because of the expense of the cast, are fairly slim, however.
2. Surviving Jack — I cannot stress enough how fantastic Surviving Jack has been through its first four episodes. I like The Goldbergs, but Surviving Jack is much better. It’s a 90s set coming-of-age sitcom, but it doesn’t use the its time period as a running joke (like The Goldbergs does), but as a backdrop, which allows it to inject a really great soundtrack into the series but keep the humor contemporary. Christopher Meloni, who plays the Dad, is the best Dr. Cox character since Dr. Cox, a hilarious hard-ass with soft center, and if the entire show were 22 minutes of Meloni giving his kids sh*t, it’d be my favorite sitcom of all time. It comes from Justin Halpern and the Bill Lawrence school of sitcoms, so it very much has a coming-of-age Scrubs kind of vibe, right down to the whiplash poignancy that ends each episode. It looks OK for renewal, thanks to an American Idol lead-in and the fact that its ratings have stabilized in the 4 million, 1.7 range. In a just world, it would be renewed and paired with the top show on this list and given the best timeslot Fox has available next year. (Actually, both shows should be renewed and moved over to FXX).
1. Enlisted — Dropped into the Friday night death slot, Enlisted was the best new sitcom of the year, period. It’s basically a Mike Schur series crossed with a Bill Lawrence series — or Brooklyn Nine-Nine crossed with Scrubs — set on a military base. It says a lot about the show that it even made Piz incredibly likable. Unfortunately, it has zero shot in hell at being renewed, despite how much critics have rightfully fawned over it. Talking about it just makes me sad. At least there are a few unaired episodes lying around somewhere that will probably make it to Netflix someday.