If you've been following the celebrity world the past few days, you probably heard about Amy Schumer accidentally making everyone think her show was cancelled. If you haven't, don't panic. She's clarified that there still will be a fifth season of Inside Amy Schumer, but not for "the foreseeable future," as she's taking a hiatus to focus on her comedy tour and promoting her new book The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.
Schumer and Comedy Central's agreement to a hiatus helps illustrate that TV networks are offering more and more control to series creators and honoring their wishes rather than focusing on making consecutive seasons or drag shows past the point of quality.
This trend began almost five years back, with the creation of the comedy series Girls, and has grown exponentially ever since. HBO continued to give star/creator Lena Dunham more control over her widely successful series, and this led to more networks being open to the possibility of the creators maintaining control over their products.
A couple of years before Dunham's series premiered, cable network FX had not only picked up comedian Louis C.K.'s autobiographical series, but they gave him complete control over writing, directing, editing and producing every episode of his show, which has lasted five seasons. Last August, FX announced that the show earned a sixth season renewal, but would be going on a long hiatus until C.K. felt ready to return. It's been about a year now since the hiatus announcement, and FX still isn't pushing the comedian, giving him all the time he'd like before feeling ready to return to the series.
The last couple of years saw the biggest push for networks giving creative control to the creators of the series, beginning with Starz's Ash vs. Evil Dead and continuing with both TV Land's The Jim Gaffigan Show and HBO's Vice Principals the same year, announcing production on all the shows and that the creators would maintain complete control over all of them.
Ash vs. Evil Dead was an idea stranded in developmental hell for over two decades, ranging from a direct sequel to the third Evil Dead film to a crossover movie between the rebooted franchise and the original film to the final idea of a TV series following Bruce Campbell years later as an older — but none the wiser — Ash Williams.
In an interview with Paper Magazine following the announcement of production, Campbell stated that Starz was the only network to give them completely unrestricted control of the show. In addition, the show earned a Season 2 renewal just days before the premiere, and earned critical acclaim for its honoring of the original franchise. Here's the intense and nostalgic NSFW trailer for the first season of the show:
The Jim Gaffigan Show got a lot of attention for a variety of reasons, ranging from the various attempts at making the show at different networks to being the first of TV Land's new focus on programming aimed at Generation X audiences. But the most important aspect of the news of the show's pickup was that TV Land was the first and only network to grant the Gaffigans (Jim and his real wife, Jeannie) complete control of the series.
The show has been a critical darling for the network, and has done a decent job at drawing in viewers for the cable network. Unfortunately for fans, Jim and Jeannie announced that the show would not be moving forward with another season, as the show has been "exhilarating," but also "exhausting" for the couple, and that they "are truly grateful" for the response from fans and critics of the series.
Vice Principals earned the attention of fans of the people involved in the show, namely star and co-creator Danny McBride. Not only did the series mark his live-action return to the small screen, it was also his return to HBO as the star and creator of his series following his popular fan-favorite Eastbound & Down.
What's fascinating about Vice Principals is that not only did HBO pick it up for 18-episodes off the bat, they announced that it would be split between the first and second seasons and that the show would end after Season 2. However, the short-run of the show was not the network's decision, but in fact creators McBride and Jody Hill. McBride stated in an interview with Variety that he and Hill wrote the script back in 2006 and re-worked it to be like a long movie.
"HBO trusted us to make those episodes without anyone watching them, so they really, really trust us," McBride said.
Here's a trailer for the hilarious new HBO series:
Even Netflix is giving comedy creators their own reign over their shows, with the BoJack Horseman, Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's creators having total control, as well as allotting W/ Bob & David creators Bob Odenkirk and David Cross an indefinite hiatus to focus on their other projects until they both have the time to come together and make more episodes. But if Variety and Mitchell Hurwitz are to be believed, David Cross may be busy very soon with another season of Arrested Development for Netflix.
Is This Shift In Power A Good Thing?
It is an absolutely wonderful thing for a transfer of power from network producers to creators. Not only are the brilliant writers getting to tell the stories they want, but they're telling the stories they know the fans want. After years of trying to get another Ash Evil Dead story off the ground, when Raimi and Campbell got the promise from Starz of complete control, they delivered exactly what fans wanted to see.
HBO's Girls has gotten rave reviews from the start and has earned multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for the series and its writing, which is mostly done by creator Lena Dunham. FX's Louie has received even bigger critical reception, earning 62 award nominations and winning 16, including two Emmys for Outstanding Writing, and has helped to increase the comedian's already large fanbase.
Another great reason for the power shift is that if a show is successful enough in terms of initial ratings and on-demand views, the creators and the networks work together to deliver follow-up seasons. Most times, a delay or hiatus in production can really help to deliver new and creative stories for characters.
After its cancellation in 2006, Arrested Development remained finished for a seven-year hiatus before Netflix revived it, and that time off really helped the show to deliver one of its most inventive seasons yet, with slicker character development and an interesting nonlinear story. The fourth season also went on to be one of the show's most well-received seasons and was a big hit for Netflix in terms of ratings.
While not a comedy, Stranger Things is another recent series in which streaming mogul Netflix gave the series' creators complete control — after having been rejected almost 20 times from other networks — and it worked to perfection. Not only has the series gotten rave reviews from critics and become a bigger hit for Netflix than Daredevil and Making a Murderer, but is still taking some time for people to enjoy the first season before moving forward with a second season.
"We always want to take some time to be thoughtful about the process. When we first come out of the gate with something, we usually have a pretty good idea of where it's going to go, but it's sensible for us to take a little bit of time and let the show breathe. And with so many really falling in love with Season 1, and people who haven't really seen episodes of Season 1 just yet, let's focus on Season 1 right now," Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.
Inside Amy Schumer has received rave reviews from fans of the comic, and with the comedian's promise of working on stories for future episodes during the indefinite hiatus, chances are fans will not be let down.
With all of these networks giving up more control to creators and allowing them to work their own ways, it seems like the TV world is no longer where comedies are going to die, but rather where they're going to thrive.
What are some of your favorite comedy TV shows? Do you think it's better for creators to have more control over their work? Let us know in the comments below!