Futurama: What Happened?

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By Jenny Moore
 
As I sat in Marines’ Memorial Theatre and listened to the voice actors of Futurama do a live table read during SF Sketchfest, one question kept ringing in my mind. Why was this show cancelled?
 
Although Futurama has not released new content since 2013, the sold out event made you feel as though the show was still on and pulling Game of Thrones viewer numbers. With seven of the voice actors returning and sitting shoulder to shoulder on stage, it was easy to see that they loved the Matt Groening series as much as the fans. While reading the S3E11 “Insane in the Mainframe” script, many of the famous voices and faces, including John DiMaggio and Billy West, would break character and laugh at a their own line or one that their colleague was reading. This made the experience that much more enjoyable for anyone sitting in the audience. As I looked around, I noticed that I was amongst a sea of 18- to 34-year-olds, the key demographic that most major studios would jump up and down for in order to get their attention. So I asked myself again, why was this show cancelled?
 
This seemed to be a similar feeling that co-creator David X. Cohen had as well. As he walked onto the stage and looked around the theatre he asked, “Where were you all while we were on the air”? Well, let’s see. Many blame it on the inconsistency of when a new episode would air during its original run as the main culprit for low ratings. Then, following successful DVD sales and high syndication rating on programs such as Adult Swim, the series was brought back to life with four movies and a fifth season from 2007-2009. The series was then resurged once more by Comedy Central in early 2013, only to not be renewed by the end of the year.
 
So what did we learn? First, the series was not technically cancelled. It just simply did not get renewed, a few times, by two different networks. Second, despite high viewer ratings at the beginning of each new season (its pilot episode “Space Pilot 3000” was the highest rated FOX premiere at the time) it just could not seem to keep those numbers up. This may be because Futurama was too ahead of its time. With Netflix being the latest to dip their toe into the Futurama viewership pool, perhaps a third network move would be the charm? Think about it. Netflix is known to cater to a more niche audience, making it the perfect home for us nerdtastic 18- to 34-year-olds who would love nothing more than to spend the day binge watching on our favorite intergalactic delivery crew on our own time.
 
In the end, even if Futurama does not get to be released from being cryogenically frozen in 2013, perhaps we can take solace in the fact that events like SF Sketchfest still exist to help us cope. But just to be safe, this nerd will keep her fingers crossed a little longer in hopes to hear a “good news, everyone” press release for a reboot in the not too distant future.


    2 Comments

  1. LokiFebruary 5th, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Awesome summary, lots of good points I hadn’t thought about. You made me all nostalgic… and omg Netflix would be PERFECT to pick it up!

  2. Jenny MFebruary 7th, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful comment, Loki! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it ?

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