Fox killed another great comedy, but ‘Ghosted’ deserves to be resurrected
Regardless of whether we all saw this one coming, there’s still something rotten about hearing that Fox has cancelled Ghosted after just one tumultuous season. The network has made some baffling decisions in the past year, including cancelling Brooklyn Nine-Nine (which was thankfully picked up by NBC) and replacing it with a revival of the much maligned Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing. Ghosted didn’t stand a chance at the network.
Sadly, that’s something that’s been infuriatingly evident during the entirety of the first season. For starters, Fox put Ghosted on hiatus for an awkwardly long time while the show was retooled to boost ratings. Paul Lieberstein (The Office) was brought in as a showrunner to guide Ghosted into the new direction of being more of a workplace comedy. Presumably, the ratings were still too low for Fox to give a shit about the show. It did decide to screen those remaining episodes during the summer when ratings notoriously go down, but whatever – we’re sure the bigwigs knew what they were doing.
Admittedly, the first season did start off a little shaky before it picked up and found its vibe, but that can be said of many comedy shows – not everyone can score a slam dunk the second they enter the court. The timing and decisions surrounding the hot mess of how Ghosted was handled in its first season points to a network that had probably already made up its mind about the show long before the remaining episodes even aired.
It could be argued the problems of Ghosted’s first season also reflect some of the overall challenges currently being faced by an industry in flux. One where the networks of yesteryear are still working from the same dictates of an ancient TV handbook that states on the opening page (probably in human blood) that ratings take precedent against all else.
The issue is that audiences are no longer changing their viewing – they’ve officially changed. The majority of young audiences don’t want to have to stick to the regime of a network’s TV schedule in order to keep up with their favorite shows or ensure they’re recording episodes to binge at a later date. They’re engaging by streaming – the figures of which apparently aren’t as quantifiable or as valuable to a network like Fox as live ratings are.
For Ghosted, this posed a huge issue as the show is indelibly one for young audiences who grew up watching The X Files and know the comedic potential of Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express) and Adam Scott (Big Little Lies) as leads. One fractured, troubled season shouldn’t be enough for a network to throw up its hands and yell, “Well, we gave it our best! Dump it in the trash with the rest of the shows we’re too square to understand.”
The truth is that Ghosted has a helluva lot of potential. Both Scott & Robinson lend themselves well as characters with opposing views on life and the paranormal who are forced into a weird working relationship together. The central premise (in which they investigate strange supernatural occurrences) also opens it up to riff on the sort of sci-fi and horror tropes that genre fans love. It’s also worth adding that paranormal investigation is a huge internet trend right now, one that Fox should have been savvy enough to see.
The marketing potential of Ghosted could have involved some solid viral campaigns that utilized the tech-savvy and mysterious intrigue of the Bureau Underground to wonderful effect and tapped directly into an audience thriving for paranormal content. You need only look to the incredible online popularity of a show like Buzzfeed: Unsolved to see how much audiences delight in seeing a dry skeptic like Shane Madej and a ghost enthusiast like Ryan Bergara butting heads over the potential existence of the supernatural. Ghosted harbors a slew of stories and characters the young audience of various shows and YouTube channels like Buzzfeed: Unsolved would have likely loved – but Fox didn’t take the time to engage with them for it.
We don’t hold out much hope that Ghosted could ever enjoy a second season, but we dearly hope that at least one of the major SVOD services might give it a second chance. At the very least, we hope the mishandling of the show and its eventual cancellation will provide some sort of hard-learned lesson for the industry in what not to do with a genre show with a few easily fixable issues in its early episodes. Although we’re sure the Fox bigwigs will be far too busy slapping themselves on the back for whatever hideous humor Last Man Standing will inflict on the world to even care.