In the current television landscape, the cancellation of television shows isn’t always certain death. There are sometimes multiple suitors happy to grab programs the “big networks” discard. Remember when Community aired on (the now deceased) Yahoo! Screen?
In May, there was an unexpected number of beloved programs meeting their premature end, and some networks (like Fox and ABC) practically cleaned their entire lineups off their programming slate. One of the biggest upsets was the news that Fox cancelled Brooklyn Nine-Nine after five seasons. Many simply couldn’t accept this. Not long after the news broke and a massive response from the fans ensued, NBC had announced that they had saved the program.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-executive producer Andy Bobrow Bobrow recalls that the initial news of the cancellation wasn’t all that shocking and that a lot of them had been prepared for the worst for a while now.
“The news of the cancellation was really sudden and probably less dramatic than you would expect,” he continues, “We’ve been on hiatus since early March, which is when the last episode of the season was shot. So us writers, we haven’t been in each other’s lives for a bit. Just the occasional text or email from Dan Goor about the ratings or the outlook.”
Bobrow adds, “We left work in March thinking it was 50/50 that we’d be picked up. The ‘Cancel Bear’ kept saying we were done.”
Even still, news seemed to be getting more optimistic towards the end of the season, yet Fox still decided to ax the program. When the news broke, there was an outpour of love, support, and hashtags hoping to save the show.
“I think the Brooklyn fandom really snuck up on me. I had worked on Community, which had a famously tight cohesive and passionate fandom,” he says. “I thought the Brooklyn fandom would be smaller and quieter. I was really blown away when I joined the show and started seeing them on Twitter on Tuesday nights. They’re amazing, and the love they have for the characters is so heartwarming.”
Bobrow also talks about the importance of the business factors that the networks and studios had to take into consideration.
“Not to get too inside, but when a show is syndicated and really profitable, the studio can lower their license fee and make it more lucrative for the network to pick it up. So we were thinking Universal will make Fox an offer they can’t refuse. It’s no secret that Brooklyn was profitable for the studio. It’s syndicated on Hulu and TBS, and it airs in other countries, so we all kind of thought that Universal would do a lot to keep the show in production, whether on Fox or Hulu or somewhere.”
That’s exactly what happened, but in spite of the frustrations of being “on the bubble,” Bobrow is used to this sort of thing. It’s merely the business and how the industry operates.
“At this time of year TV writers are all looking around and talking to their agents about what the fall season will be. You have meetings with other shows just in case. You meet with writers who have made pilots, and they don’t know if they’re going to get picked up and you don’t know if you’re going to be available and you just have a ‘just in case’ kind of meeting.”
While the news of the show’s cancellation was a surprise to fans, Bobrow elaborates about how quickly everything happened for those that were involved with production. The creative team only received the news about 15 minutes before the public did.
“I was at the car dealer when a friend of mine from Last Man texted me and said ‘We just heard we’re getting cancelled. News will come out in a few minutes. He was saying, well, do you guys have any openings at Brooklyn? Letting me know that he was on the market. And I said I don’t know, I’ll talk to Dan Goor. So I texted Dan and I said, ‘Hey, I just heard Last Man is done. Are you looking for new writers?” And before he wrote back, I just looked over and checked my email, and sure enough there was an email from Dan to the whole staff that said that Fox is letting us go, too.” Bobrow concludes, “So I texted Dan again and said ‘Never mind, just saw your email.’ That was basically it.”
One of the biggest surprises following Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s cancellation is just how many people came to its support and just who exactly those people were. Stars like Lin-Manuel, Mark Hamill, Seth Meyers, and Guillermo Del Toro all rushed to the show’s defense on Twitter.
“We all knew that Universal would be looking into other options because it just made sense. But Dan had asked us not to talk about that online, because it might never happen and why get anyone’s hopes up? But within minutes of the news breaking, there was Lin-Manuel and Mark Hamill and Guillermo Del Toro making noise online and we could not believe it.”
Bobrow continues: “The Save Brooklyn movement had an immediate focal point. I mean, you cannot buy that kind of publicity. Not to take anything away from our fans, but a “save X” hashtag goes into hyperspace when celebs get involved.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s revival at NBC had made countless people let out a sigh of relief, but Bobrow explains the chaotic nature of the industry had prepared him to say goodbye. He had made his peace with the Brooklyn Season 5 finale and already was talking to his agent about what projects might be next on his horizon.
“I was just adjusting and getting ready for Plan B. And a day later, Brooklyn was saved, he says. “But here’s the thing. I’ll most likely be going through this next year, too. That’s the life, and I’ll never complain about it because it pays well and it’s such a pleasure to be able to write for a living. But that is definitely the life.”
Hopefully fans will be able to celebrate more than just one more season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine on NBC, but at least they’ll get that much to tie up any loose ends and bond with these wonderful characters. Then again, maybe if NBC does pull the trigger after season six then Lin-Manuel Miranda will be forced to go ahead and write a Brooklyn Nine-Nine musical.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine will return to NBC for its sixth season in 2019.