In a very surprising development (to me, anyway), HBO announced this week that two of my favorite comedies on the network, ‘Hung’ and ‘Bored to Death’, have been officially canceled. ‘How to Make It in America’ also got the axe, but I can’t imagine that comes as a shock to anyone.
While perhaps not ratings heavy hitters, both ‘Bored to Death’ (in which Jason Schwartzman plays a neurotic hipster who fancies himself a film noir private eye) and ‘Hung’ (which stars Thomas Jane as a down-on-his-luck high school gym coach turned male prostitute) were critically acclaimed series that had built enough of an audience to last three seasons apiece. Artistically, both shows really seemed to hit their strides in the recently-concluded season. The ‘Hung’ storyline about Tanya’s misbegotten Wellness Center and the ‘Bored to Death’ storyline about Jonathan’s search for the sperm donor from whose spunk he sprang were hilarious high points that seemed to focus the dramatic drive of each show.
I can’t say much about ‘How to Make It in America’. I watched the first couple episodes of that when it originally premiered, and the show didn’t do anything for me. I was surprised that the show made it to a second season. I wouldn’t have expected more than that out of it.
The most perplexing part of all this is that the network did pick up the new Laura Dern dramedy ‘Enlightened‘ for another season, even though that series has lower ratings than any of the three that were canceled. While I kind of like ‘Enlightened’, it’s not a show that I have great excitement for (I’m still backlogged several episodes on my DVR), and I don’t sense terribly much critical or cult buzz for it out there either – aside from the recent Golden Globe nominations that seemed to spring from out of the blue. I fully expected this one to get canceled after just one season.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, even though ‘Bored to Death’ and ‘Hung’ drew more viewers than ‘Enlightened’, the ratings for both shows were on a decided downslide this season. HBO felt that it couldn’t justify continuing them. Meanwhile, those Golden Globe nominations for ‘Enlightened’ may earn the show some much-needed attention in reruns and the second season.
I’m very disappointed in this news. ‘Bored’ and ‘Hung’ both leave a lot of storylines unresolved. I really need to know what Ray’s going to do with those cows!