As you may or may not know, LONGMIRE, the most-watched scripted drama in the history of A&E, has been cancelled. We here at TVWriter™ were divided about the show. Some of the minions loved it. Others wouldn’t even try the show out cuz “old people, you know?”
In view of its ratings success, both camps wondered why the series was dropped – and now we have the answer, straight from the horse’s mouth. Proving that Facebook is good for something after all, LONGMIRE showrunner Craig Johnson has posted his take, and it gives us a wonderful – or maybe horrifying – insight into the television executive mind.
There’s an old saying among cowboys—you ride for the brand. If you’re hired on, you do your job the best you can and you don’t whine or complain about the outfit—but there does come a time, if you are mistreated with intent, when you leave that employ and need to clear the air.
If you’ve been stapling barbed wire up in a lineman’s shack for the last couple of weeks, you might not be aware that the A&E network cancelled Longmire. We’re all still kind of reeling from the news that a network would cancel the highest-rated, scripted drama it’s ever had, a show that was consistently one of the top ten cable shows of any given week—one of the top 25 of the summer including the networks.
A lot of people have been asking me why?
The excuse that the network used was that ratings were down from the previous season from 4.2 to 3.9 million, but with adjusted DVR recordings, Longmire was still holding steady at close to 6 million… And that’s with A&E cutting us down to ten episodes and giving us a less than enviable lead-in–four-year-old reruns of Criminal Minds that were pulling -72%, no promotion or advertising, and a general ambivalence to the show as a whole.
The other excuse was that the show wasn’t pulling as much as they wanted in the 18-49 demographic. We more than hold our own in the 25-50 demographic—now, I’m no television executive (thank goodness), but I don’t know of any 18 year-olds out there who are buying Dodge trucks. I still remember being told that Longmire pretty much sold itself, “Oh, we’ve got advertisers lined up to such an extent that we’re turning people away.”
So what gives?
A&E has made it clear that it wants to own and produce the shows it airs, and the one it doesn’t own, the highest-rated scripted drama they’ve ever had– Longmire—is not theirs. They’ve had success with Bates Motel (which, even with A&E’s blessings and full support, has yet to achieve the ratings Longmire has) and have had disasters like Those Who Kill (which was cancelled after only two weeks), but then they were trying to strong-arm Warner into selling them Longmire. Now, if I remember correctly, Warner Brothers were the ones who taught Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney how to be tough guys back in the thirties… Good luck with that, A&E. Maybe that next reality show, Tattooed Eskimo Swamp Hunters will turn out to be a winner.
At this point in time, the producers and Warner Horizon are pitching to other networks in hopes that one of them is smart enough to take on a proven winner like Longmire, and we’ll hopefully land in an environment that appreciates and supports the show.
People have been asking what they can do to help in finding Longmire a new home, and the best thing you can do is continue talking up the show in all the social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, blogs or the net-sphere. If you’re looking for a place to register your support, sign up for Twitter (it’s easy, even Walt could do it) if you aren’t already on there and join the blitz tonight (Monday) at 10 PM ET/9 C/8 MT/7 PT—the Longmire time slot—and keep tweeting and retweeting #longlivelongmire.
From the response that A&E’s garnered from dropping Longmire, it looks as if it may be the biggest PR disaster for the network. People are actually contacting their cable and satellite providers and requesting that A&E be removed from their subscription packages.—they have had to hire on extra operators for the amount of complaints that have been registered.
In closing, I think those executives at A&E forgot to take one thing into consideration—we’re cowboys, we ride for the brand and we don’t walk away.
See you on the trail,
In the words of our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody, “The best kept secret in show business is that it’s a business.” Looks like the secret’s starting to get out.