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Deadline discusses fate of ABC Bubble Freshmen Shows

ABC is heading into its renewal decisions tomorrow with its entire freshman class on the bubble. The one first-year show that appears most likely to get the nod is country drama Nashville. With a great pedigree, creator Callie Khouri and star Connie Britton, Nashville launched to critical praise and OK ratings. But it’s had a rocky freshman season, with the show going through growing pains and struggling with its creative direction as well as the ratings. I’ve heard accounts of tension between co-producers ABC Studios and Lionsgate and other behind-the-scene issues, including star Britton being unhappy with the experience. But in the end, most problems seem to have been resolved, and Nashville, which at one point looked unlikely to continue, now likely will be on the schedule next season. In addition to the solid response from critics (Britton is a major awards contender), Nashville draws important young viewers and also generates sizable revenue from digital music downloads. The only other freshman ABC drama that is still alive, Red Widow, is not expected to come back.

On the comedy side, The Neighbors is going toe to toe with fellow family comedy How To Live With Your Parents. How To Live has benefited from a better known cast and a later start as it is fresh on ABC executives’ minds while The Neighbors finished its freshman run awhile ago. How To Live also launched promisingly behind Modern Family. But it has steadily declined in the ratings to a point where choosing between The Neighbors and How To Live has become a toss-up. In breaking such a tie, other factors — usually political — come into play, like the fact that The Neighbors is owned by ABC and hails from writer Dan Fogelman, who has been very important to Disney on the feature animation side and might not come back to TV anytime soon. Meanwhile, How To Live is from 20th TV, the studio behind ABC’s top comedy Modern Family. Another freshman comedy series, Malibu Country, also has been heavily on the bubble. With ABC today passing on John Leguizamo’s multi-camera comedy pilot, things look more optimistic for the Reba McEntire comedy as it is from ABC Studios, has a popular star in McEntire and is an OK companion to multi-cam sophomore Last Man Standing, which is expected to return.

Suburgatory is also struggling creatively to a point where it has become a true bubble show in danger of cancellation.

Source: deadline

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