The gods of TV have spoken, smiting the wicked who hath not wrought high ratings, returning from the grave those who might yet do so, and bringing forth a new schedule that shall surely disappoint come September.
I used to panic when this happened to me. And it used to happen a lot. I was a kind of show killer. Nearly every series I was on got cancelled. Even shows that had been hits tanked when I started. One year, I worked on three pilots, and none of them got picked up. I was getting shows cancelled before they even aired!
Then, one season, I landed on a show a few months into its first season. A good show, probably one you’ve heard of. The day I started, they got picked up for the back nine. We got picked up for a second and third season, and still counting.
The lesson is, most shows get cancelled. If you’re fresh out of film school and landed your first show, congratulations! But know that it’s twice as likely to fail as to succeed. It’s not your fault; you’re not a bad luck charm (and neither am I).
It’s part of freelancing in television. If you don’t like it… well, you’re a normal human being. But if you can’t take it, you’re in the wrong business.
- Although even a twelve episode “guarantee” isn’t really a guarantee. I was on a show that stopped production while we were shooting episode 9, because the ratings for episode 4 were so terrible.↩