Broadway no longer on your TV: NBC cancels ‘Smash’, ‘1600 Penn’, ‘The New Normal’ and ‘Go On’

"1600 Penn."

The cast of “1600 Penn.”

It seems that lately, many Broadway stars are branching out and coming into our homes on a weekly basis through a variety of television shows; strangely, a majority of those shows are on NBC.  Yet, as much hype as these shows may get, or however large a following they gain, it seems that many of these shows begin to struggle.

This comes after Thursday’s news that Book of Mormon alum Josh Gad’s show, 1600 Penn, would not be returning for another season.  The show, which Gad starred in and created, was a sitcom on NBC, also starring Bill Pullman as the President of the United States and Jenna Elfman as the First Lady.  1600 Penn premiered to mixed reviews, many of which categorized it as a mindless comedy that is missing something.

Co-creator Jon Lovett announced the cancellation on Thursday by tweeting, “It’s official. 1600 Penn is a cult classic.”  There has since been an outpouring of disappointment from fans in the Twittersphere, who are understandably upset that NBC cancelled the show.

"Smash."

Megan Hilty in “Smash.”

Another struggling NBC show, Smash, will not be returning for a third season.  Starring several Broadway alums, including Megan Hilty, Christian Borle, and Wesley Taylor, the show premiered its first season to positive critic reviews, but those reviews began to drift off as the season went on, despite its massive cult following.

Midway through its second season, the show was moved from its Thursday time slot to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and ratings plunged when compared to the previous season’s premiere. The main audience that Smash seems to pull in is Broadway fans, who enjoy the musical numbers the show has created and the often frank depictions of life in show business.  Smash will air its two-hour series finale special on Sunday, May 26 at 9 p.m.

Tony Award winner Laura Benanti’s show, Go On, another NBC show, has also been cancelled.  The show, which also stars Matthew Perry, was about a sports talk radio host who goes to a support group to cope with his wife’s death.  Benanti starred as the support group’s leader, and the show has received good reviews from critics, but seemingly even a favorable critical reception is not enough for NBC to keep the show around.

Another Mormon alum, Andrew Rannells, of NBC’s The New Normal, has received word that they will not be picking the show up for next season.  The show, centering on a gay couple in Los Angeles who employ a surrogate to carry their baby, and the dysfunctional family dynamics surrounding all of them, aired for only one season.

Reviews for the show, created by Ryan Murphy of Glee and American Horror Story fame, were generally positive, calling the show “touching.”  Still, this wasn’t enough to keep it afloat, and NBC now has another open time slot to fill.

"Bunheads."

The cast of “Bunheads.”

One show whose fate is still uncertain is ABC Family’s Bunheads.  From the creator of Gilmore Girls and starring Sutton Foster, the show sees a ballerina-turned-Vegas showgirl going back to a small town to teach ballet with her mother-in-law.  The show was an instant hit, and quickly gained a cult following.

In March, there was a conflicting story on whether Bunheads was to be renewed or not, but the story was false and ABC Family has remained mum on the topic.  This ambiguity has spurred the creation of the “Save Bunheads” movement, as the show contains many important lessons for their target audience.  It focuses on female friendships, something that is lacking on many of the popular shows today, and on real-life issues facing teen girls.  In addition, the dancing is wonderful and completely mesmerizing to watch.

However, in the midst of all these cancellations, there are some new shows that Broadway’s stars will have the chance to shine on.  Sean Hayes will star in his new NBC sitcom, Sean Saves the World, where he plays a divorced gay father dealing with his daughter, work and of course, his mother.  Skylar Astin will be making the move to television as well, on TBS’ Ground Floor.  The show is a workplace comedy, starring Astin as a “25-year-old alpha male,” who realizes he’s not as happy as he thought he was.

Why do so many thespians make the move to television?  It’s a completely different approach than performing on a stage, where an actor only has one shot to get things right.  Of course it is always good to branch out and explore other opportunities, but is does seem that many of these shows lack in longevity.  Perhaps it’s just the dynamics of the show, or the writing isn’t clicking with the audiences

It remains to be seen how other stars will fare with their shows. Aaron Tveit is coming to a television near you in June on USA Network’s Graceland, which is a very different kind of show than NBC’s cancellations, and there are high hopes the show will do well and get renewed.  For now, all those of us at home can do is watch and wait.

What are your thoughts on the recent cancellations?  Did one of your favorite shows get the boot?  Sound off in the comments section below!

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