The executioner’s axe swung mightily today at HBO headquarters, as the cable network canceled three half-hour series, and spared one. Hung, How to Make It in America, and Bored to Death will not live to see another season; while Enlightened, by far the lowest-rated of the four, has been picked up for Season 2. Personally, this is great news; I have been pretty vocal about how much I love Enlightened, and the series felt like it still had more stories to tell about the Amy Jellicoe’s quixotic adventures in corporate America. Of the others, only Bored to Death did I watch with any regularity, and I have to admit I finally gave up this season. Despite the presence of its delightful stoner trio of stars--Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis--the show just started to collapse like a souffle. The characters were too inert, too self-absorbed, too content with their own preciousness, and the plots devolved into silliness. I appreciated what it was trying to do, but it made a fatal mistake: It ceased to be funny.
As for Hung and How to Make it in America, I know both shows had their fans. Hung seemed wholly pointless from its pilot episode, which, admittedly, was the last episode I watched. I just had issues with the premise, this mushy, milquetoast of a man being pimped like meat (and for his meat) by a variety of female neurotics. Weak leads sink series. Someone should needlepoint that and put it in every writers' room. And How to Make it in America just gave me East Coast Entourage hives. A true fan should give it the proper eulogy it deserves in the comments.
So what comedies can we look forward to in their place? Lena Dunham’s Girls, which, based on the preview (I never saw her film, Tiny Furniture), actually looks to have Something to Say About Kids Today. Then there’s Veep, from the devilishly clever Armando Iannucci (if you haven’t seen In the Loop, do; it’s where my love for The Office’s Gabe was born), and two comedies from foreign men whose appeal completely eludes me: Life's Too Short from Ricky Gervais, and Angry Boys from Chris Lilley, he of Summer Heights High fame. I won’t get into my thoughts on Gervais here, but what is HBO’s fascination with Lilley? He does one amusing character, the mean girl, but all the other characters on High are either dull, obvious, or both. The drama teacher, the juvenile delinquent. It’s all just so, oh I don’t know. Blaaah.
So which of HBO’s departing series will you miss most? Are you happy about Enlightened's renewal? Looking forward to the new kids on the block?