TV needs to stop canceling Emily Kapnek shows

Emily Kapnek Selfie

Emily Kapnek is known for a handful of sitcoms: Emily’s Reasons Why Not, Suburgatory, and Selfie. The other three things those shows are known for? They were all cancelled — in the case of Why Not and Selfie, that happened pretty fast (within the first season). Suburgatory lasted longer, but flirted with potential cancellation for most of its run. (She also has an animated show, As Told By Ginger.)

This is unfair, and bad for television, because Emily Kapnek shows are great — and not just because their showrunner sends out tweets like this:

I never really saw Emily’s Reasons Why Not when it was on — I watched it later, and it is funny — and honestly, my only context with it was Keith Jackson trying to do promos for it during the Texas vs. USC National Championship Game and having absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

I watched Suburgatory fairly religiously, and liked it a lot. I wrote about that previously. In many ways, I think it was a much better show than Modern Family, which gets about 10x the press and 20x the ratings that it ever did. For a show to create a character as ridiculous as Dalia …

… but also come up with moments as sweet as the finale between Tessa and Ryan …

… and Malik’s proposal?

That’s a legitimate show.

I had been watching Selfie since the beginning. Maybe that’s because I’m a weird male; I’m not entirely sure what it says about me. That’s not the point right now, though.

The point is that the pilot was a little bit of a train wreck, yes, but it gradually became a much-better show — all the way up to an ironic series finale that showcased confidence by both leads (the exact same type of confidence ABC didn’t have in the show). Along the way, even Vanity Fair was out there singing its praises.

In case you’re unawares, Selfie was essentially My Fair Lady retold for the digital age. It was, thusly, doomed from the start. People might resent modern-day retellings of stories such as that, and the fact that everything was very social (media) made it seem kind of niche to some (or so the negative reviews went). Eliza, as played by Karen Gillian, started out as a very superficial character — almost what Dalia from Suburgatory might have evolved into. Over time, she became far more vulnerable and nuanced:

For a show so focused on social media, one cool thing that happened was the emergence of a #SaveSelfie tag on Twitter, as in:


(That last one is a little creepy.)

I feel the same way about college football coaches that I do about TV showrunners. At a certain level, you need to give them the proper time to do their thing. Honestly, if you were to make a list of the best TV shows of the past decade, Breaking Bad is probably on most people’s lists, no? You can make a really strong argument that the show was headed for extinction — and we’re talking cable here, not network — and Netflix essentially saved it. Network TV is littered with shows that deserved longer runs, but someone higher up pulled the plug too quickly. (Breaking Bad would have lasted five episodes on network, and also been terrible content-wise.)

Kapnek’s shows tend to have this nice intersection of comedy and surrealness to them — almost like live-action Family Guy at some points — and TV needs more of that. One of the best comedies of the last 10 years, 30 Rock, did some of this too.

My broader point here, potentially lost in a bunch of embeds and tweets, is that the next time Emily Kapnek has a show, hopefully it’s on cable — and hopefully we get to see 20 or so episodes before we make a decision about whether to pull the plug on it.

Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. Strongly agree in case of the Selfie but Modern Family belittling is just wrong %)

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