After all the hoopla and all the controversy, NBC opted to cancel The Playboy Club after just three episodes. Despite scantily clad Bunnies and a 1960s vibe that made viewers nostalgic for Motown, The Playboy Club ultimately goes out with a whimper rather than a bang.
But the biggest loser here might be the viewer. Not because we won’t get to see this Mad Men wannabe get a full season pickup, but because the cancellation of The Playboy Club is yet another reason why watching new shows on network television is risky business.
Despite giving shows like Rubicon, Terriers, and Lights Out the pink slip after their freshman seasons, many cable networks actually allow their shows to find an audience beyond their first year.
It doesn’t matter if you’re into The Walking Dead or comedy-drama hybrids like Bored to Death and The Big C, it’s a lot safer to sit down and season-pass a show if it airs on AMC, Showtime, or HBO.
The four (or five if you include The CW) major networks are a different story. It’s gotten to the point where a TV series’ chance of survival, not its content, determines whether I click the “Keep” or “Delete” button on my DVR.
Fact is, viewers are tired of investing in shows that die off faster than a dozen roadside roses. It’s no wonder why friends of mine opt to wait nine months for a TV show to hit DVD, or store up a serialized drama on their DVR until it gets a full season pickup.
Shows like The Playboy Club require a significant investment of time by the viewer each and every week. And with a network exec’s thumb always hovering over the panic button, is it really a surprise why viewers refuse to make that commitment?