The Zombie Social-Media Accounts of Canceled TV Comedies

RIP, Mulaney. Photo: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Social media has completely altered the way we think of and consume comedy. When it comes to TV comedies, though, hashtag-happy Twitter accounts and desperate Instagram captions don’t necessarily help — in fact, they might even encapsulate what doesn’t work about a show. As a follow-up to an old Splitsider post, we decided to dig into the social feeds for a dozen canceled TV series — several of them long gone, a few recently departed — to see what went wrong and what became of the accounts after the shows themselves got nixed. Here’s what we found. #TBT

About a Boy (NBC, 2014–2015)

Canceled: May 8, 2015

About a Boy. Photo: Vivian Zink/NBC

Last we heard from this very “presh” sitcom adaptation of the 2002 Hugh Grant flick, the show’s entire second season was available on iTunes — including “six never-seen-before episodes!” NBC yanked About a Boy out of the prime-time lineup in early 2015 and officially axed it a few months later, before those season-two installments ever got a chance to air. The folks in charge of the show’s Twitter and Facebook feeds kept up appearances for a few weeks after the series first vanished, making sure to recognize #FionaFriday and #MCM, but eventually they gave up the charade. (This About a Boy fan account showed a lot more dedication, staying active for almost a full year after the cancellation.) How the network handled the whole thing left some fans confused and wondering, “Is this canceled?” The silence in return said it all.

Married (FX, 2014–2015)

Canceled: October 26, 2015

Married. Photo: FX

FX’s warts-and-all exploration of parenthood, lifetime monogamy, and trying to masturbate without waking up your partner only lasted for two seasons, but, hey, if there’s anything this series starring Judy Greer and Nat Faxon taught us, it’s that Married life can be tough. You need to really work at being present and keeping your better half engaged — like, maybe you don’t rely too heavily on rhetorical questions and truly un-enticing curiosity gaps to generate interest.

A to Z (NBC, 2014–2015)

Canceled: October 31, 2014

A to Z. Photo: NBC

A to Z: a show that projected as so achingly cute and so clearly smitten with itself that it made (500) Days of Summer look like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Bummer, then, that reading the sitcom’s Twitter page is like watching a relationship die in real time. There’s nothing but enthusiasm and couple names at the very beginning (there’s an actual tweet celebrating the month-aversary of #Zeldrew), but once the bloom’s off the rose (say, because of a cancellation announcement), everything becomes routine. Those last few weeks A to Z was on NBC, the show’s Twitter account was simply going through the motions, announcing when new episodes were starting, airing on the West Coast, and landing on the network’s app. Oh, #Zeldrew, we’d much rather remember you this way.

Mulaney (Fox, 2014–2015)

Canceled: May 11, 2015

Mulaney. Photo: Fox

John Mulaney’s throwback Fox sitcom wasn’t officially canceled until May of 2015, but it was pretty clear well before then that the multi-cam show was doomed. In October of 2014, just about two weeks after the series debuted to lackluster reviews and ratings, the network cut back on its episode order; the following January, a Fox executive told Deadline the show was “dead”; and later in 2015, Mulaney confirmed to Vulture that he knew it was over by February. Things have worked out nicely for the top-notch stand-up since then, but we’ve got bad news for anyone hoping to score a Mulaney phone cover for 25 percent off or a “Mulaney logo latte mug” for 20 percent off — those deals have expired. (If you’re looking for Tumblr GIFs with redundant captions, though, you’re in luck — the Mulaney page is still stocked with those!)

The Odd Couple (CBS, 2015–2017)

Canceled: May 15, 2017

The Odd Couple. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Ah, the Matthew Perry–Thomas Lennon Odd Couple. Why didn’t this fusty, critically derided 2010s reboot of an iconic ’70s sitcom (and 1968 film) (and ’60s stage play) spark more social-media chatter? The people behind the show’s Twitter account certainly did their part, firing off single-sentence episode summaries and out-of-the-blue quotes. Maybe the lackluster Instagram presence was to blame — there are only two posts on the sitcom’s profile, after all. But that second post sums up the show beautifully (“Felix with an iPhone?!”), so there was no sense in trying to top that. Clearly, the team that worked on this Odd Couple redux knew when to leave well enough alone.

The Comedians (FX, 2015)

Canceled: July 23, 2015

The Comedians. Photo: FX

Where were you during #BillyWeek in early June of 2015? That’s nice. More important, we can tell you where Billy Crystal supposedly was: Legend has it that he was running the Facebook page for his meta FX series with Josh Gad, The Comedians. Of course, “running the Facebook page” really just means he was signing completely innocuous posts off with “-Billy.” Pointless as that takeover was, it’s way more palatable than whatever the hell was going on with the show’s Twitter account. Just check out the bio: “The official Twitter account for The Comedians. Run by an official superfan, for superfans everywhere. LOL. JK?” … Honestly not sure what to do with that. And we’re similarly perplexed by the inflatable fish quote, the 1600 Penn promotion, and whether the person running this Twitter account really would watch the show on loop.

The Brink (HBO, 2015)

Canceled: October 27, 2015

The Brink. Photo: HBO

This bottom-tier HBO series was on the … cusp … of getting a second season when the cable network ultimately decided to backpedal on its renewal order. With hindsight, that twist makes quote-focused Facebook posts like this feel particularly fitting. (Another unintentionally perfect post? The one that insists, “Stop pretending you care.”) The show’s Twitter game didn’t end up quite as on point, though. Only three tweets are up there, and two of them could’ve benefited from some editing. Pro tip: Maybe don’t play fast and loose with “#Pakistan” when promoting your nuclear-war satire.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (FX, 2015–2016)

Canceled: September 9, 2016

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Photo: FX

To quote our finest cultural critic, Nelson Muntz, I can think of at least two things wrong with that title. Did someone actually believe there’d be a viable audience for a series about a past-his-prime dirtbag rock star who makes bad decisions but wants to do better? Apparently! Someone also thought that the skeeziness was a genuine selling point — the Instagram for Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (#SDRR for short, natch) still throws devil’s horns up for dudes dating women half their age and chicks getting a pass to sleep with Mick Jagger. Very edgy stuff. We will, however, cop to being suckers for the promos spoofing classic album covers.

The Great Indoors (CBS, 2016–2017)

Canceled: May 13, 2017

The Great Indoors. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS

The Great Indoors Twitter contains many wonders: image macros that will never be used by anyone ever again, an abundance of the phrase “the Millennials,” and some not-very-fun lines from the show. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to marvel at over on the defunct sitcom’s Facebook page. So if you want an answer to the question “Can Eddie get his groove back?” you’ll have to look elsewhere — the video links there, like the internet in that one episode, are all down.

American Vandal (Netflix, 2017–2018)

Canceled: October 26, 2018

American Vandal. Photo: Tyler Golden/Netflix

The American Vandal Twitter account just … kinda sucks? Don’t get us wrong — seeing ads for the Peabody Award–winning (still shocking!) true-crime satire makes us smile. But that’s basically all that the underused feed has to offer — 16 tweets total, many of them promos for the show’s first season. There’s barely any mention of season two’s Turd Burglar! It’s almost like they dumped those episodes without much of a push. (Sorry.) At least the Vandal Instagram account is set up as if it’s run by the show’s two main investigators.

I Love You, America (Hulu, 2017–2019)

Canceled: January 9, 2019

I Love You, America. Photo: Ali Goldstein/Hulu

Sarah Silverman had big ambitions for her recently canceled political talk show — namely, to help bridge the gap between people with opposing outlooks. But even with a ton of issues to discuss in a variety of segments, it looks like the show didn’t have enough content for its own social accounts. When the I Love You, America Twitter wasn’t encouraging people to vote in the midterms, promoting clips from new episodes, or weirdly wishing onetime guest Don Cheadle a happy birthday, it was suggesting you check out this throwback sketch where Fred Armisen plays Jesus. Or this throwback footage from Silverman’s trip to Texas. Or this throwback interview with Roxane Gay. Noticing a pattern?

Whiskey Cavalier (ABC, 2019)

Canceled: May 12, 2019

Whiskey Cavalier. Photo: Larry D. Horricks/ABC

You remember Whiskey Cavalier, right? The Lauren Cohan–Scott Foley–starring action-comedy-romance that — even setting aside all of the tweets and posts about drinking — still reigns as the thirstiest new show of 2019? Well, whether or not you have any recollection of this short-lived series, you can get the gist just by scrolling through the spy program’s social feeds. There’s sexual tension between the two leads, occasionally the missions get really heavy, somebody named Tina apparently did something wild during the finale — no, seriously, Tina was trying to get away with some stuff. What was it? The Whiskey Cavalier social accounts won’t tell, despite not being afraid to spoil entire episodes; once the show’s final installment aired, the Twitter and Instagram signed off with a simple “Thank you.”

So, after our stroll through all these abandoned social-media accounts, we’ve got some advice for new TV comedies looking to build a loyal following. First, if the show itself is already gimmicky, don’t overdo it. Of course you’re hoping to win people over to the super-cuteness of A to Z, but don’t make anyone following along online feel like they’re trapped in the company of a moony-eyed couple that won’t ease up on the baby talk and pet names. Second, the less live-tweeting the better. There’s probably a reason we don’t see quite as many accounts sharing random quotes and no-context reactions as we did five years ago.

But our most important takeaway — and this might seem both incredibly obvious and unhelpful to point out — is that it’s a lot easier to maintain a successful social-media account if the show itself is good. Check out the Twitter for Netflix’s One Day at a Time, a (justly) beloved series that was (unjustly) canceled. A lot of the videos and GIFs there are entertaining and endearing because the material’s strong and the show had a clear voice that rings out. Simply put, if the bits work on TV, odds are they’ll work on Twitter. And in the case of One Day at a Time, both worked so well that the series eventually found a second life on another network.

The Zombie Social-Media Accounts of Canceled TV Comedies