The Strange Predicament ABC is in:

ABC, this fall, has a great Wednesday lineup creatively from beginning to end,  in my humble opinion. Last fall they had The Middle, and Modern Family and in between an ill-fitting multi camera sitcom, Better With You, that should have built on The Middle and never did. It was almost invisible. This year, ABC developed a wonderful show, Suburgatory, that tonally fit well between the two shows and was also single camera, yet has its own distinctive voice. After two weeks, its building very nicely off of The Middle (which had a stellar ep of its own last night). At 9:30 ABC is in familiar company that they were in last year. They have a wonderful comedy, Happy Endings, that like Cougar Town, seems mismatched with the comedies that precede it. I am so happy that ABC is behind the show and gave it a great slot, yet it appears that aside from the single camera angle, it’s also an ill-fitting match with Modern Family. Last night it lost virtually half of Modern Family’s total viewers and a ridiculously high 3 points in the demo. The show is younger skewing and clearly courts a different audience, and yes there are many people like myself that love all 4 comedies equally, but for the most part these are shows with different styles and audience targets. Joe Adalian, the wonderful television columnist and West Coast editor of NY Magazine’s Vulture.com, made a comment the other day that Raising Hope clearly doesn’t fit well after New Girl on FOX, yet Happy Endings would be a perfect fit.

ABC has a new really smart, funny, new comedy for midseason, Don’t Trust The B__ In Apt 23 (so happy they’re back to the original name) that in a season where comedies are kicking ass, should hopefully resonate like New Girl. The problem for ABC is where to slot it now. The original plan was for Cougar Town, and Apt 23 to to air on Tuesdays at 9p after DWTS ends. With New Girl breaking out there now, that would be suicide for the ABC shows. The truth is, just like The Middle, Suburgatory and Modern Family fit so well together, Happy Endings, Cougar Town, and Apt 23 perfectly complement each other as well. They are all targeting the same young demo and the quick repartee of all 3 shows is very similar. Ideally ABC should have another single camera family comedy to go after Modern Family that would likely hold more of its audience than either of the shows have the last 2 years.  The show the younger skewing comedies would fit best with would be The Bachelor. Maybe a 90 minute edition followed by Apt 23, CT and HE. The problem there is that Castle has become a success at 10 and those comedies certainly wouldn’t do as well as it does. Maybe ABC can move Private Practice to 8p (once they axe Charlie’s Angels) and air Apt 23 and one of the younger comedies at 10 after Grey’s. ABC will likely wait a few more weeks to even contemplate what to do with these shows and they see where their needs are after their Tuesday comedies premiere.

But ABC has a more pressing issue. Revenge was one of their biggest priorities for the fall and for good reason. It’s a well written, well acted, incredibly fun soap and it’s doing better in that troubled timeslot (for them) than any drama has done recently. In my own unscientific poll it’s also the most buzzed about new drama. (Last fall, The Whole Truth was getting low 1s with a higher lead in and had zero buzz.)The problem is, it dropped another 3 tenths this week in the demo, yet it is growing in total viewers from Happy Endings. I would assume that ABC is wondering if the show is dropping quicker than it should as a result of all those people who are leaving their network at 9:30. As much as I thoroughly love Happy Endings and want it to run for many years, if I were at ABC I’d be asking “gee I wonder if we aired another new ep of Suburgatory at 9:30 next week, or a rerun of The Middle or Modern Family would Revenge be closer to a 3.0”? It’s growing in viewers at 10 to over 7 million viewers from the 6 plus million Happy Endings viewers has at 9:30. Clearly people are coming to the show for the show and the online buzz confirms this. I honestly wonder if ABC is having these conversations internally and If I were a betting man, I think they are. I would not be surprised if just for one week, they do substitute one of the aforementioned shows at 9:30 to see what is the cause for the Revenge drops. Not helping matters next week is the fact that FOX will air a new episode of NEW GIRL, the season’s biggest new hit, and youngest skewing new hit,  at 9:30 after X Factor vs. Happy Endings. I honestly would not be surprised if just for next week ABC does substitute a Mod Fam or The Middle rerun to see what’s the real deal with Revenge.

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