The likely reasons ‘The Kids Are Alright’ was cancelled by ABC after only one season

The kids are not alright.

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The kids are not alright.
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Rick Rowell/ABC

  • ABC sitcom “The Kids Are Alright” was canceled after one season, despite strong reviews from critics and viewers.
  • The nostalgic series, about a big family living in the 1970s, didn’t seem to fit into ABC’s broader plans for its fall lineup.
  • Fans, and people involved in the show, are hoping it will find new life on another network.
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After one season, fans will have to say farewell next week to the nostalgic, 1970s-set ABC sitcom, “The Kids Are Alright,” which was well-received by critics and viewers alike. The TV show from “Last Man Standing” creator Tim Doyle airs its final episode on May 21.

While ABC has not said why the series, about a big family living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, was cancelled, the show didn’t fit neatly into the broader plans for ABC’s schedule that were laid out by ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke this week.

For starters, “The Kids Are Alright” wasn’t an obvious hit. The series started off strong, making the one of the highest-rated debuts for a comedy series last fall among the coveted 18-49-year-old crowd. But ratings stumbled during the season, and the show fell out of the 10 highest-rated ABC series with that audience demographic. Overall viewership also oscillated, falling more than 50% from the start of the season by the show’s May 7th airing – a few days before the cancelation was announced.

There were other reasons “The Kids Are Alright” didn’t have a future at ABC. Burke rearranged the network’s fall primetime schedule in the hopes of creating a “weekly comedy event” out of the new “Black-ish” spinoff, “Mixed-ish” and “Black-ish,” which are airing back-to-back in the 9 p.m. ET hour on Tuesdays, she said. She did the same with “The Goldbergs” and its spinoff “Schooled” on Wednesdays.

Burke also said she was looking to strong returning comedies like “Black-ish” and “Single Parents” to help the launch of new dramas “Emergence” and “Stumptown” at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, respectively.

Read more: ABC is making a lot fewer new shows, and it could be a sign of broadcast TV’s future

Ratings for “Black-ish” did slump in its current fifth season. The series was averaging fewer live- and same-day viewers than “The Kids Are Alright” by mid May. But, with ABC’s flagship sitcom “Modern Family” entering its 11th and final season, it’s not surprising that the network did not want to give up on the show. Kenya Barris’ “Black-ish” is the foundation for a franchise of Disney series that also includes “Grown-ish” on the young-adult channel Freeform and the upcoming “Mixed-ish” spinoff.

It’s hard to say definitively why weaker performing shows like “Bless This Mess” were renewed over “The Kids Are Alright” – a fact that even stumped Doyle, the creator.

It appears the network just couldn’t find a good place for “The Kids Are Alright” in its fall lineup that would help grow the show, as Burke said of another canceled drama, “Whiskey Cavalier.”

“The Kids Are Alright” may have been too similar in format to other ABC shows. The network already has two other, promising period-sitcoms: “The Goldbergs,” set in the 1980s, and “Schooled,” set in the 1990s. “Mixed-ish,” which takes place in the 1980s, makes three.

Burke said the network was focusing on broadly appealing series with strong female point-of-views, which may have made “Mixed-ish” more attractive to the network. The prequel spinoff centers on a younger version of Tracee Ellis Ross’ “Black-ish” character, Rainbow Johnson.

“Characters like Rainbow Johnson and big stars like Allison Tolman and Cobie Smulders will be able to not only cut through the clutter with these shows, but reclaim our dominance with women and from there the broadest possible audience,” Burke said.

Fans of “The Kids Are Alright,” and people involved with the show, haven’t given up hope that the series could find a home on another network or midseason on ABC. Series like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Lucifer,” and “The Expanse” have been picked by other networks after being canceled. Actor Sam Straley, who plays the oldest son, Lawrence Cleary, on the show, appealed on Twitter to streaming service Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to save the show. He even got a little help from Star Wars veteran Mark Hamill, who is a fan of the show.

“Please, you’re our only hope,” the video posted on Twitter said.