EXCLUSIVE: Despite ratings hardship and real and clear danger of cancellation, Happy Endings may live up to its title even if ABC opts not to order a fourth season. I hear that Sony TV, the leading studio behind the underrated comedy series, has quietly reached out to a couple of networks, including USA Network and NBC, about the possibility of continuing the comedy there if ABC does not renew it. I hear USA, which has been looking to break into the half-hour original series space, has expressed interest and has had discussions about picking up Happy Endings in case of a cancellation by ABC.
If the financials can be worked out, a Happy Endings pickup would be fortuitous for USA, which has been actively developing half-hour comedies and has ordered several pilots but has yet to greenlight a half-hour series. USA had been looking to have an original comedy on tap for the fall premiere of its marquee off-network series Modern Family. Happy Endings would be a suitable companion for Modern Family as it already spent two seasons on ABC paired with the Emmy-winning family comedy. Happy Endings did well behind Modern Family, but its fortunes changed this past fall when it was moved to Tuesday to form a comedy block with Don’t Trust The B—- At Apt. 23 in a crowded comedy hour. Despite strong cult following and critical praise, Happy Endings struggled mightily on Tuesday and was recently relocated to Fridays. ABC brass had been strongly supporting the show from Day 1, but they will likely won’t be able to keep the series on broadcast TV at these ratings levels. In a last-ditch effort, the network recently launched a Save The Show-themed promo campaign for Happy Endings‘ move to Friday. The call to arms didn’t help, with the two back-to-back Friday originals drawing a 0.9/3 and a 0.7/3 in adults 18-49, down 25% and 46% from the show’s last Tuesday airings on January 29.
Happy Endings is in a similar position to the one another cult ABC comedy in its third season, Cougar Town, was in the same time last year. With ABC’s blessing, the series, produced by ABC Studios, relocated to TBS where it has done well, recently earning a fifth-season renewal. Cougar Town‘s success on TBS would likely help Happy Endings, which has a similar limited but very devoted fan base. Like Cougar Town, Happy Endings is headed into the all-important Season 4, which is crucial to a series’ chances for syndication. Sony TV, which co-produces Happy Endings with ABC Studios, is known for fighting hard to keep its shows alive. The studio has been able to successfully take perennial CBS bubble comedy/solid utility player Rules Of Engagement to 100 episodes. It also helped keep Damages alive at DirecTV after FX opted not to renew it, and got CBS’ Unforgettable, Fox’s Breaking In and most recently Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva resurrected after being cancelled by the respective networks.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.