Small screen: Superstore and Atlanta sell big; Luke Cage premiers
Last week was big for fall television season premiers, bringing the return of minority-lead shows like Superstore, Rosewood and Empire to network television. It also brought good news for some new shows (hello, Atlanta) and not-so good news to others (hang in there, Pitch). Elsewhere, Netflix’s much-anticipated Luke Cage premiered Friday, and the show’s creator Cheo Coker thinks the show could be particularly impactful in today’s political landscape. For these stories and more, read on:
Network: NBC just made a big purchase. The network ordered a full season for the America Ferrera-starrer Superstore, bringing in nine additional episodes for a 22-episode season. The show is maintaining solid ratings in its new Thursday time slot, averaging 5.5 million viewers and 1.5 in the 18-49 demo. It averaged 6.6 million in its initial season, making it the network’s top watched new show since 2013.
Empire’s ratings reign may not be as strong as what they once were, but the show is still ruling its demo and time slot. The show’s third season premier aired September 21 to 10.87 million viewers, steady with the second season finale back in May. It still pulled a 4.2 in the demo and handily won the night against Modern Family and Law & Order: SVU. Still, the ratings are nowhere near where they used to be. For comparison, the second season premier drew 16.18 million this time last year. However, established shows tend to lose viewership as time goes on, and the Lyons still managed to maintain its audience in the four-month break between seasons.
Not every show is getting away with Empire-level ratings, though. How to Get Away With Murder, ABC’s top scripted series in 2014, premiered its third season September 22 to 5.11 million viewers. Like Empire, this figure matches the previous season’s finale, but is down a whopping 39% in viewers, and 46% in demo. Viola Davis’s drama certainly wasn’t helped by competition like football and The Blacklist in its new timeslot.
Good premiers were celebrated by almost all this week, but FOX’s new baseball drama couldn’t pitch in to the celebration. Pitch debuted Thursday to a middling 5.4 million viewers/1.1 rating in the demo, struggling against Thursday Night Football. This is a disappointment for the show that has attracted wide critical acclaim, even if it did manage to improve upon its more established lead-in Rosewood’s disappointing 3.6 million viewers/0.7 demo rating. It wasn't helped by a poor time slot, either. The show stars Kylie Bunbury as the first-ever woman Major League Baseball player.
In casting news, Supernatural has cast Kadeem Hardison as a music industry mogul in a recurring role for its twelfth season. He will get in the way as Castiel and Crowley continue their hunt for Lucifer, having history with Crowley and plans for Lucifer. Kardison previously starred in sitcom A Different World and currently appears in Disney sitcom K.C. Undercover.
Online: Netflix is ready to rumble. Marvel’s Luke Cage dropped on the streaming service Friday, becoming the first superhero television show to star a hero of color. It’s also the first show to feature a cast prominently comprised of people of color, featuring six actors of color in its main cast of seven. The show stars Mike Colter as the invincible strongman Luke Cage, who uses his strength to fight crime. The show is a continuation of Marvel’s superhero universe, taking place in the same timeline as hits Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Its reviews are unbreakable, too, as it currently touts 100% approval from critics.
Back during the show’s Comic-Con panel, Luke Cage creator Cheo Coker said, “the world is ready for a bulletproof black man.” With the show premiering amidst a poignant time in the black lives matter movement, it could help to have a superhero to “arise when people feel helpless,” Coker said to The Hollywood Reporter. “The show is really about what happens when, in this world where people are afraid to speak out because if you look at what's happening in real life in any community of color that are facing these issues… how does that change when you introduce a bulletproof element?” Coker said.
The Mindy Project released a trailer for its upcoming fifth season, coming to Hulu October 4. The clip promises the fifth season will deliver the relationship drama that made Mindy Kaling’s show a hit in its first four seasons. Mindy’s titular character finally confronts on and off boyfriend Danny in a confrontation fans have been waiting for. View the trailer above.
Cable: Donald Glover will be staying down south a little longer. FX renewed his comedy/drama series Atlanta for a second season after airing only three episodes. The show was met with positive reception and solid ratings for the network. Glover directs and stars in the show following Earnest Marks (played by him) managing his troublesome cousin’s burgeoning rap career. The second season will be ten episodes, one more than the current season. The show currently airs Tuesdays at 10.
Outlanders has cast Walking the Dead’s Wil Johnson as a doctor-in-training who befriends Claire, the main character played by Caitriona Balfe. Johnson previously starred on BBC One’s Walking for 11 years, and appeared in soap opera Emmerson as well. His character will bond with Claire for being outsiders in a typically all-white male field in the show’s upcoming third season. The Starz series follows Claire as she time travels through historical eras.