Yesterday, ABC announced they were cancelling The Family, a drama about a kidnapped kid who returns home after ten years—or does he? They also cancelled Nashville (it’s just like Empire but the music isn’t as good because, you know, it’s country). Both were entertaining shows with interesting characters and decent writing.
Meanwhile, they renewed such brilliant pieces of television as The Bachelor (I’ve never watched, but based on the millions of promos I’ve seen during other ABC shows, it’s basically a bunch of bimbos throwing themselves at a hot rich guy and having cat fights), Dancing with the Stars (would be more accurately titled, “Has-Beens Trying to Dance to Restart Their Careers”), and The Catch.
Now, I really wanted to like that last one. After all, it’s a Shonda show, and I like everything else Shonda Rhimes has produced—Grey’s Anatomy (although the writing has gone downhill the last few seasons), Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder.
Plus, The Catch has a good cast. I recently watched all of The Killing on Netflix, and Mirielle Enois, who plays Alice, is a great actress. Peter Krause plays her fiancee Ben, who makes off with all her money in the first episode. She cons him back out of the money, and vows to catch him and have him arrested for making a fool of her. He insists he really does love her and the whole ripping-her-off thing was just because his business associates made him do it.
And that’s where the show falls apart, I think. The con artists he works with are boring, lack emotional depth, and I don’t care about them. They’re a British brother-and-sister duo with no motivation other than making lots of money and expanding their shadowy “business.” Basically they’re like cardboard cut-outs of “the bad guys.” Ben’s excuse for falling in with them is he didn’t know better at the time. We know nothing else about him or his backstory except his name is Ben, his employers might kill him if he displeases them, and he swears he accidentally fell in love with Alice while executing a con job.
As much as I wanted to like the show, and I think the premise had the potential to be entertaining, it bores the crap out of me every week. The plot of each episode is predictable and formulaic. The characters become less interesting every week, and I find myself wishing there were more episodes of How to Get Away with Murder instead. Now there’s a show that holds my attention every week.
But maybe I should just be glad HTGAWM got renewed, since ABC likes to cancel interesting shows. The Family, like HTGAWM, was a well-written mystery that kept fans guessing (just visit the Facebook fan groups and you’ll see what I mean) every week. The characters were interesting, and their motives not always blatantly obvious. There were no cardboard cut-out characters.
Unfortunately, the ratings were a lot better for a show about bimbos throwing themselves at hot rich guys, or the one about washed-up actors trying to restart their careers by learning to waltz. I guess that’s why good shows get cancelled—there aren’t enough intelligent people watching TV.
W. T. Fallon is the author of Fail to the Chief, a political satire in which the presidential election is carried out via reality show, which is almost as bizarre and far-fetched as our current reality.