Netflix doesn’t do anything lightly. Every week the streaming overlord dumps a steady glut of content onto their service: new TV shows; movies they made themselves or picked up from festivals and not-exactly-classics like the 1994 film The Flintstones you may have forgot existed. And when they do the opposite, they go big, too. That’s why they’ve just canceled not only Michelle Wolf but Joel McHale, too.
Both The Break with Michelle Wolf and The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale were abruptly axed with one swift chop. The two series, each a late night-style unscripted current events gag-a-thon, were only in their first seasons. Wolf’s show bowed in May, while McHale’s hit streaming in February. Both attracted fair amounts of press and, in Wolf’s case, the occasional moment in the viral sun; the most sharable bit on the latter was a devastating recruitment ad for ICE.
When Wolf’s show began, it rode off the momentum of her notorious/beloved White House Correspondents’ Dinner stint. She roasted the current administration and made a bunch of jokes at the expense of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, which were inaccurately reported as being about her looks. Wolf herself had to tweet that, if anything, she was paying her a compliment.
Netflix never releases details about traffic and who’s watching what — unless it’s about Adam Sandler movies. But given the rend result it’s safe to assume that chucking Wolf and McHale means they weren’t exactly ratings bonanzas. It also underlines how Netflix is having trouble figuring out how they enter the late-night show circuit if viewers can watch their shows any time of day they like.
Nevertheless, other comedian-driven shows — like Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction — aren’t going anywhere. And the fall brings even more comics to streaming, including Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, Norm Macdonald Has a Show and The Fix, a panel show hosted by Jimmy Carr, Katherine Ryan and D.L. Hughley.
For now, pour one out for Wolf and McHale. At least Wolf can comfort herself with her recent Emmy nom for the stand-up special, Nice Lady.