Party Down (2009–2010)
Party Down was a really decent sitcom about a catering company made up of struggling actors; it was a sort of darker, slower, Parks and Recreation. Unlike Parks and Rec, it never really got the chance to find it’s footing, in part because the latter show stole lead actor Adam Scott. Very bleak and offbeat but also very sweet and funny, if a little hit and miss, it lasted two seasons and had a great cast including Means Girls’ Lizzie Caplan and Freaks and Geeks’ Martin Starr. Starr’s character is such an unredeemable asshole but I like to think he would have softened if the show had made it to season three, like how Leslie Knope used to be a real bitch then they made her a perfect angel and hoped you would just forget about it.
You would think space cowboys and secret government experiments would be enough for a show to stick around, but cult favourite Firefly was cancelled before it even finished airing its first season. Stylistically very much in the same vein as creator Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show’s large and passionate fan base led to the film follow up Serenity in 2005. I was going to write about Buffy for this, which was also cancelled, but I feel like seven seasons was a good place to end. Actually every single TV show Joss Whedon has ever made has been cancelled, but now he’s got all that Marvel money so who’s laughing now? Not me because I don’t like those movies and I feel betrayed.
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Like Joss Whedon, Ryan Murphy is another brilliant but messy showrunner who just can’t keep things together. Popular is an amazing, underrated Y2K-era cult classic that took every teen show’s after school special ever and threw it in a blender—think an extremely meta proto-Glee without all the singing and the morals. Set at a time when Gwyneth Paltrow actually meant something, the show featured such iconic characters as the deranged hook-handed science teacher Bobbi Glass and future serial killer Mary Cherry. With more butterfly clips, blue eyeshadow, and glitter lipgloss than your nostalgic millennial self could ever dream of, Popular is a super fun and crazy ride that was understandably (but so sadly) cancelled after two seasons.
Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000)
The ultimate source of cancellation rage, Freaks and Geeks was cut short after one season for no good reason other than to make people sad. Created by the now huge Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, it also launched the careers of many future stars like Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco. No show better portrayed the brutal reality of high school social hierarchies better, when being branded a loser was the worst thing that could possibly happen because you thought high school was the be-all and end-all of your existence. There were so many places Freaks and Geeks had to go that we will never get to see and it’s genuinely gutting. And James Franco was at his absolute prettyboy peak.
All of Those VH1 Dating Shows
Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, I Love New York, Charm School… all incredible shows that kept giving and giving were brought to you by trash titans VH1. However they were all cancelled when former Rock of Love spin-off Megan Wants a Millionaire contestant Ryan Jenkins brutally murdered his then-wife while the show was still airing. Jenkins had placed third on the show and between marrying his wife shortly after filming and murdering her, he had been cast in and won another VH1 spin-off show I Love Money. With Megan Wants a Millionaire immediately pulled off the air and I Love Money pulled from the schedule, the whole franchise lost momentum and ceased to exist. There was an SVU episode about it and everything.