Why 'The Ex List' was doomed

Exlist_lI’m sorry to learn that CBS has yanked The Ex List (pictured) from its schedule after just four airings, since I like star Elizabeth Reaser and since the show was, according to EW critic Gillian Flynn’s review, worthy of a B+ grade. Of course, I have to go by Gillian’s review because I never got around to watching the show, and apparently, neither did too many other people. You’d think there would be an audience for a romantic dramedy like this, but you’d be wrong, and CBS should have known that, given the sad history of similar programs.

TV critics, advertisers, and network executives will all tell you that TV is a female-friendly medium (especially when compared to, say, mainstream Hollywood movies). It presents women with images of themselves that are, collectively at least, more well-rounded, diverse, and fully developed than the arm-candy female characters on the big screen, which is why Holly Hunter, Kyra Sedgwick, and Glenn Close are all small-screen stars now. And yet these hour-long dramedies with romance-themed plots haven’t drawn an audience since Ally McBeal; The Ex List follows such shows as Men in Trees and Miss Match to the TV scrap heap. It can’t help that all three of these programs aired on Friday nights, when young women craving romance are more likely to be out on the town than staying home to watch TV.

Aside from a better timeslot, then, what will it take for TV to create a smart, female-friendly, romance-driven series that lasts? Any suggestions, PopWatchers?

More on The Ex List:
Ausiello Files: CBS pulls The Ex List
TV Review: The Ex List
The Ex List premiere: Waxing indignant
The Ex List‘s bad luck charm
Elizabeth Reaser defends her Ex List character


Comments (234 total) Add your comment
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  • Adan

    Another Friday night show that I liked that was killed off. This happens way too frequently and is part of the reason that I tend to NOT watch TV. Why get interested or invested in a program that will never get a resolution?
    I had a feeling that would be the case with the Ex-List because it wasn’t going to hold over a lot of viewers from The Ghost Whisperer, which I only had on waiting for Ex. I didn’t think what I imagine to be that show’s demographic being too keen on discussions of waxing and sexual histories. I found this show to be engaging and fun. I am sad.

  • Jakeem

    They canceled “Moonlight” for this?

  • Adan

    Commented in the wrong place. But to answer the question…
    What it will take is a network giving a show actual time to find an audience. Some of the shows that they’ve had I think did possess all the right qualities and the right people… but were killed off in a season or less. So many huge older shows… Seinfeld, Friends, etc never would have made it if the same thing happened then.

  • Tiger

    My husband and I both liked this show. If they can’t commit to longer than four weeks, than why bother putting it on at all.

  • Laurie

    I saw the previews for this one and thought it looked stupid.

  • t3hdow

    The only thing CBS wants to commit time for are its endless parade of crime dramas. They even admitted it when The Mentalist and Eleventh Hour scored high ratings out the door. I’m not even sure how both shows grew popular, knowing their premises were already covered by Psych and Fringe, but since it’s CBS, its audience will suck up whatever procedural crap it dumps on it.
    If CBS is willing to off cult favorites like Jericho, Moonlight and Swingtown for their homogenized programming, so be it. It also means I won’t be watching the network’s future offerings.

  • Michelle

    I’m going to second Jakeem! More seriously Ex-List just wasn’t a CBS kind of show. There’s a reason it’s known as the Old People Channel. CBS has a brand: CSI-type crime dramas and innane comedies like 2 and half Men. Anything that doesn’t fit gets canceled. Period.

  • Wayne

    So glad this show tanked-nothing bad about the show mind you, but this was Moonlight’s timeslot. I vowed not to watch anything in this timeslot and I didn’t watch the Ex-List.

  • Becca

    I don’t know why I bother with tv. Everytime I find a show that shows promises and that I like it gets yanked after a few episodes. Give a show a chance–plus a better time slot. This is just another reason for me never to watch CBS.

  • kelly

    I have watched every episode since I normally watch Ghost Whisperer. I was willing to see what it was really about. Well, the first episode was ok, maybe it will be good. Every week followed the same premise. Nothing new really, she runs into an ex, they hook up, go out for a time, find out what they really broke up about and it doesn’t work out again. With so many exes, how long was this show going to last anyway? Besides, I don’t know if I was real happy with the concept that she may have slept with that many exes. Young people do not need that message either. A few, but how many seasons of sexual partners are we talking about? ug!

  • econruth

    No way! I actually liked this show and had watched it from the beginning. The whole too-many-sex-partner-thing that seems to have bothered other posters NEVER crossed my mind. Maybe that’s the difference between this 30-something and CBS’s regular demographic? I mean I’d rather watch a romantic comedy where the girl goes out with a different guy every show than one where the girl ends up DEAD every show ala CSI.
    PS. I miss Moonlight too!

  • Mia

    When will network executives realize by yanking stuff right away, we the viewers are less likely to even START new shows?
    Why invest time into something that may get cancelled?
    Can’t they remember that CHEERS was ranked in the low 80s in it’s first season and the worked it’s way to the top???

  • Molly

    When I first heard the premise of this show I was offended, but then after hearing the positive reviews I decided to check it out online and loved it. But why on earth, would they put a show geared towards young women on a Friday nite? Sorry, but just because I like chick-shows doesn’t mean I am going to stay home on a Friday nite to watch them. Bad call CBS, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • e. d. lewis

    They really should have put it on a different night. I really liked the show!

  • Jackie

    I liked the show okay, it just sucked it was on a Friday night. And some of the supporting characters bothered me, mainly her two best “guy friends”. They should have (maybe they would have?) gone into the relationships of all the main characters first? Maybe give some of them actual jobs? (I liked that the one girl was a teacher! But why did Bella go to art school AND all these other things when she owns a florist? Im still confused).

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