December 21, 2011

THE SKED: The World According to HBO

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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You couldn’t ask for a better example of the way in which HBO is different from all other networks–even other pay-cable networks–than its decision today to cancel BORED TO DEATH, HUNG and HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA, while renewing ENLIGHTENED.  While none of the shows were hits, even by pay-cable standards, all 3 of the cancelled series had higher ratings than Enlightened, which in the target 18-49 demographic on its initial telecasts has literally hovered between a 0.1 and a rating too low to be measured.

But HBO is all about buzz, because buzz is what makes subscribers feel like their extra monthly payments are well spent.  And while some of us find Enlightened unwatchably smug and a manipulative exercise in monstrous self-indulgence masquerading as idealism, the show has its partisans, and they are passionate:  The Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly are among those featuring the dramedy in their Top 10 Lists for the year. (Undoubtedly the Golden Globe nominations for the show and star Laura Dern this week didn’t hurt either.)
So RIP to the too-hip-for-its-own-good but fabulously cast Bored to Death (Ted Danson is a fine addition to CSI, but he was Emmy-worthy in Bored), and to How To Make It In America, a show with more substance than its forebear Entourage that could never quite find its tone.  And a little less of a fond farewell to Hung, well-acted but probably ready for that bordello in the sky.
The good news is that part of the reason for the cancellations is that HBO has a number of new and promising series on the way:  half-hours from the creators of In the Loop (VEEP, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the VP of the United States), Tiny Furniture (GIRLS, co produced by Judd Apatow), and Extras  (the latest Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant project LIFE’S TOO SHORT).  Not to mention, on the one-hour side, the new Aaron Sorkin series.  So fear not… it continues not to be TV at HBO.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."