‘Man’ Down! ABC Sends Sitcom to the Showers

Caveman comedy 'Man Up!' gets the ax

Take the “e” out of “dude” and you have a good indication of how this season’s crop of Paleolithic-man comedies is faring.

Man Up!, a 22-minute compendium of fart jokes and protracted adolescence, has been excised from ABC’s Tuesday night lineup, joining the equally vapid CBS strip How to Be a Gentleman on the trash heap.

While it became apparent that Man Up! wasn’t long for this world when ABC released its midseason schedule—the plan was to pull the plug on Jan. 3, replacing it with the cross-dressing comedy Work It—at the time, the network was almost certain to burn off the remaining episodes. Instead, the final five installments will likely fade into nothingness.

Testosterone-fueled banality aside, Man Up!’s most unforgivable sin was its inability to hold onto a strong lead-in. Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing has been a solid earner for ABC. On Dec. 7, LMS delivered 8.79 million viewers and a 2.7 rating in the 18-49 demo; in the 8:30 p.m. slot, Man Up! effectively lost 45 percent of its lead-in, drawing just 4.82 million viewers and a series-low 1.6 rating.

In the course of its eight-episode run, Man Up! averaged 6.44 million viewers and a 1.9 rating in the money demo.

Mercy-killed by CBS after just two airings, the little lamented How to Be a Gentleman would have been a smash hit on NBC. The final installment of the Kevin Dillon sitcom drew 7.58 million viewers and a 2.5 rating back on Oct. 6.

Man Up! joins Gent and six other new series on the funeral pyre: NBC’s The Playboy Club, Free Agents, and Prime Suspect; ABC’s Charlie’s Angels; Fox’s Allen Gregory and The CW’s H8R. Moreover, Pan Am has been scrubbed from ABC’s midseason roster, although the network insists the period piece could win a second flight, despite its lackluster ratings.

If the caveman routine hasn’t borne fruit, comedies with strong female leads have proven to be the story of the 2011-12 TV season. Through 11 weeks, CBS’s 2 Broke Girls is averaging 12.2 million total viewers and a 4.8 rating in the dollar demo, making it the No. 1 new series. While early momentum for Fox’s New Girl was derailed somewhat by two weeks of MLB postseason action, the Zooey Deschanel comedy is still one of the season’s breakout hits, averaging 8 million viewers and a 3.9 rating. 

Also enjoying a strong early run is ABC’s Suburgatory. Starring Jane Levy, Jeremy Sisto, and Cheryl Hines, the fish-out-of-water comedy is averaging 8.83 million viewers and a 3.0 rating. Emily Kapnek is the creator/showrunner.