And Netflix's spotty talk show record continues! Sadly, The Break with Michelle Wolf and The Joel McHale Show have been canceled. The shows are following in Chelsea Handler's footsteps as her comedy series, Chelsea, was also canceled in October after two seasons.
Following Wolf's controversial hosting gig at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, her series was highly anticipated. Sadly, it seems it won't survive past Season 1. According to The Daily Beast, The Break's cast and crew were only informed of the show's cancellation when news broke on Friday, August 17.
The Break aspired to be a late night show that blended sketches with topical conversation. It incorporated jabs at media figures and current event coverage. As the show didn't rely on the draw of huge guests, much of the series focused on Wolf talking to herself and the studio audience, which showcased her skill as a comedian. The show began in May and aired 10 episodes before Netflix opted not to order a second season.
The Joel McHale Show covered pop culture and news with sketches, celebrity guests, and video clips. As many longtime fans of the personality have pointed out, the show was reminiscent of McHale's E! series, The Soup. However, Netflix allowed greater creative input, less censorship, and gave McHale the green light to foster an "adult" atmosphere. The show premiered in February to a much quieter audience than The Break's. It aired 13 episodes weekly followed by an additional episode order of six episodes that were suddenly dropped in July.
In my opinion, The Break's cancellation is a tragedy. While there are a lot of talk shows on TV, Wolf's offered something different: a lack of censorship, which is all too common on network television. After the comments she made in front of the White House staff (and the world), it was clear Wolf would not stand down. Fans could rely on her to be truthful. She wouldn't kill jokes because they seemed a little "too mean" or "too offensive," but she still managed to be one of the most politically correct and brilliant comedians we've seen. Her show was a refreshing "break" from the endless controversy in our society.
Though Netflix continues to struggle with the talk show genre, there's no end in sight. It currently airs Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld and My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. The service has also ordered talk shows to premiere this fall from Norm Macdonald (SNL), Hasan Minhaj (The Daily Show), Jimmy Carr (Drunk History: UK), Katherine Ryan (Counterfeit Cat), and D.L. Hughley (Scary Movie 3).
While Seinfeld and Letterman have both experienced great success in the field, even a well-known comic like Handler wasn't able to find an audience at Netflix. Perhaps there's a better marketing strategy the site could be using, or maybe it's all about bringing in huge names.
Whatever the case, The Break with Michelle Wolf and The Joel McHale Show will sorely be missed. Netflix is a wonderful platform for talk shows because there's no language or topic censorship. Here's hoping it keeps trying.