By mid-May, the broadcast networks will need to make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2019-20 TV season, and which… won’t.
As that deadline inches closer, TVLine is singling out several “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on their creative strides (and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to the cold, hard Nielsen numbers.
Next up in our Keep or Cut series is a longtime staple of ABC’s Thursday-night lineup.
THE SHOW | How to Get Away With Murder (Season 5 finale aired Feb. 28)
THE CASE FOR KEEPING | First of all, that cliffhanger! The drama’s fifth season ended with Laurel Castillo and her son, Christopher, missing in action. But were those disappearances caused by Laurel’s conniving family members, or did she bail of her own accord? It’d be a shame to see the show end on such an ambiguous note, especially when it involves the whereabouts of a key character.
And there are plenty of other, non-Laurel-related mysteries that need solving, too. What happened to Emmett Crawford in his office? Is Gabriel Maddox giving us the full story? And, perhaps most obviously, will the Keating Five (and everyone in their emotionally damaged circle) actually get away with murder in the end? In this case, a sixth and final season might be the best-case scenario; longtime viewers of a show this complex deserve a little closure, no? Plus, Season 6 would likely bring the Middleton students to the end of their law school careers, which seems like a perfectly suitable stopping point for the show.
THE CASE FOR CUTTING | If anything kills Murder, it will be its numbers. Averaging 2.8 million total viewers and not quite a 0.7 demo rating this season, the Shondaland drama was down a good 25 percent from its previous cycle and, most damning, ranks last in both measures out of all six ABC dramas. It also hit series lows as recently as Feb. 21. It all may come down to: How desperately does ABC want/need to hold onto its Shonda shows, now that Rhimes is focusing her energies at Netflix?
Creatively speaking, the show has also stumbled a few times in recent years, including Season 5. Though Murder used to leave our jaws on the floor with every major twist (Bonnie killed Rebecca! Wes died in the fire!), those highly anticipated reveals have become more convoluted and less satisfying over time. (Nate Sr.’s murder was orchestrated by… Laurel’s brother, who we haven’t heard about in four years?) Should the show be renewed, its storytelling web could use a little untangling.
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