When Robert Greenblatt took over as President in 2011, NBC was still considered the Must See Network. It had Thursday night sitcoms The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Community. Greenblatt, however, decided to broaden the network’s comedy offerings: He greenlit sitcoms meant to appeal to a larger audience. In the five years since he took over, one comedy — Undateable — has made it to a third season (It was cancelled today, along with Heartbeat, Game of Silence, and Telenova, three series I have literally never heard of).
Undateable, from producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) was not a good show. It was a broad, laugh-track sitcom that was slightly better when it aired live, but it’s the closet thing that Greenblatt can consider a success since taking over and decimating the comedy side of the network. He completely blew it up, removing comedies from Thursday nights all together, and ultimately decimating the comedy sensibility of the network. The network once best known for Must See Thursday nights is now best known for The Voice, Blindspot, The Blacklist, Chicago-set procedurals and NFL.
Granted, television has changed considerably in the last five years. Time shifting, streaming, intense competition from cable and the Internet have all splintered viewership, but instead of leaning into it and trying to capture an identifiable audience using a huge stable of talent from Saturday Night Live and a reputation the network had for strong comedies, Greenblatt made a miscalculation and tried to swim upstream against a current. He turned the oldest major broadcast network in the United States into a television nursing home.
This is Greenblatt’s dreadful track record when it comes to comedies since 2011. Here’s every sitcom that’s come through during the Greenblatt era. If you consider Undateable a success (a debatable proposition), Greenblatt is exactly 1 for 25, so far.
1. 1600 Penn: Cancelled after 13 episodes
2. About a Boy: Cancelled after two seasons
3. Animal Practice: Cancelled after 9 episodes.
4. Are You There Chelsea?: Cancelled after 12 episodes.
5. A to Z: Cancelled after 5 episodes aired.
6. Bad Judge: Cancelled after 5 episodes aired.
7. Bent: Cancelled after 6 episodes.
8. Best Friends Forever : Cancelled after six episodes
9. Crowded: Cancelled after 11 episodes
10. Free Agents: Cancelled after four episodes aired.
11. Go On: Cancelled after one season.
12. Growing Up Fisher: Cancelled after 13 episodes.
13. Guys with Kids: Cancelled after 17 episodes.
14. Marry Me: Cancelled after one seaosn
15. The Michael J. Fox Show: Cancelled after one season
16. Mr. Robinson: Cancelled after 6 episodes
17. The New Normal: Cancelled after one season.
18. One Big Happy: Cancelled after six episodes
19. Save Me: Cancelled after 7 episodes.
20. Sean Saves the World: Cancelled after 15 episodes.
21. Telenovela: Cancelled after 11 episodes
22. Up All Night: Cancelled after a season and a half, a reboot, and a scrapped attempt to broaden the audience by making it a laugh-track sitcom.
23. Welcome to the Family: Cancelled after 3 episodes aired.
24. Welcome to Sweden: Cancelled after two low-rated seasons
25. Whitney: Cancelled after two low-rated seasons.
The Carmichael Show: 16 episodes, so far (season one finished #94 in the ratings)
Superstore: 11 episodes, so far. Renewed for a second season.