Fans of "Huge," a groundbreaking TV drama about overweight teens, have just received news every TV addict fears — ABC Family is canceling their beloved show after just 10 episodes, due to low ratings. A day after the announcement last week, women's website Jezebel launched an online petition to rescue "Huge," whose co-creator, Winnie Holzman, was the woman behind another cherished-but-canceled program, "My So-Called Life." (Watch a promo for "Huge.") But fans shouldn't get their hopes up. "Saving a series is extremely rare," says Tim Goodman in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are three instances when Internet campaigns swayed network executives, and three when they didn't:
"Friday Night Lights"
NBC nearly called it quits on the critically acclaimed small-town football drama in February 2008. Network executives changed their minds, thanks, in part, to an online petition signed by tens of thousands of people. NBC partnered with DirecTV to share production costs and keep the show going through a fifth season, which premieres later this month on DirecTV. Always wanting more, fervent fans recently launched a petition calling for a sixth season.
CBS' post-apocalyptic drama got a second life in 2007 after the show's "ferocious online community" launched nutsonline.com. The site's name referenced a character who said "nuts" in the show's season finale. Remaining true to the theme, fans donated money to help deliver 25 tons of peanuts to the network's offices in New York and Los Angeles. CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler called it an "impressive" and "unprecedented display of passion," and renewed the show for an abbreviated second season.
Earlier this year, NBC was persuaded to renew the spy comedy for a third season thanks to a sponsorship deal with Subway and a unique online campaign to "Save Chuck." Kath Skerry, an established television blogger, changed her site's name to GiveMeMyChuck.com for one week and declared it "Chuck Week." Other established TV writers followed suit, changing their Twitter icons to "Save Chuck" labels, and reminding their thousands of readers to watch the show.
A passionate online campaign couldn't save HBO's Western drama. In May 2006, fans launched HBONoMo.com, a site urging fans to cancel their subscriptions to the premium cable network if it didn't renew the show for a fourth season. The network offered series creator David Milch an abbreviated fourth season, but he passed. "We couldn't have done the work the way we wanted," said Milch. "I didn't want to limp home."
NBC abruptly canceled the "Sex and the City" follow-up in the fall of 2008, despite an online petition that drew tens of thousands of signatures. Protesters even sent tubes of lipstick to NBC Entertainment's then-co-chairman, Ben Silverman. "I think a lot of people were really sad," said star Brooke Shields, "but I think we hung on a really long time."
An online "Save our Bluths" campaign got the Emmy-winning Fox comedy a stay of execution, but couldn't save it in the end. Protest organizers encouraged fans to send banana crates (the dysfunctional Bluth family owned a frozen-banana stand) and "strongly worded" letters to the network. The outcry was "instrumental" in bringing the show back for a third season in 2005, but Fox pulled the plug just 13 episodes in. Since then, diehard fans have found comfort in talk of an "Arrested Development" movie.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Deficit scolds are the most crazed ideologues in America
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- 7 language habits that reveal your age
- 10 things you need to know today: July 24, 2014
- A scientific fact-check of 2001: A Space Odyssey
Subscribe to the Week