FX Cancels Lights Out. Why Can’t Sports Dramas Last?

March 29, 2011 – 10:54 pm by Ryan Phillips

FX Networks officially announced last week that boxing drama “Lights Out” will not be brought back for a second season. Despite critical acclaim and a ton of support internally at FX, the show will unfortunately have its final episode next Tuesday.

Personally, I really enjoyed “Lights Out” and thought a gritty look at a former heavyweight champion balancing family, money and a comeback bid was a great idea for a show. Holt McCallany’s work as main character Patrick “Lights Leary was outstanding and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a whole lot more of him in the future. The always fantastic Stacy Keach was also excellent in his role as Lights’ father and trainer.

The show became can’t-miss television for me. Apparently viewers across the country just didn’t want to come along for the ride. The show debuted to roughly 1.5 million viewers, but viewership had declined to as low as 700,000.

“Lights Out” is just the latest in a long line of sports-themed dramas that haven’t lasted. Despite critical acclaim, many sports dramas have failed to catch on with viewers.

ESPN’s “Playmakers,” which went behind the scenes of a fictional professional football team, was canceled after just one season. Cult classic “The White Shadow” only survived for three seasons despite multiple Emmy nominations. And, of course, “Friday Night Lights” was dogged by cancellation speculation from its first episode through its final season five years later. That a phenomenal show like Friday Night Lights – which garnered tons of critical praise and won numerous awards – never caught on with viewers (despite its cast’s ridiculous level of hotness) is a pretty clear indication that people just aren’t interested in sports-related dramas. But why not?

People love watching sports, and people love prime time dramas. You’d figure a combination of the two would be an instant hit. But that just hasn’t been the case. Despite creative writing, compelling storylines and fantastic acting, shows like “Lights Out” and “Friday Night Lights” just haven’t been able to connect with viewers en masse.

So what gives America?

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  1. 2 Responses to “FX Cancels Lights Out. Why Can’t Sports Dramas Last?”

  2. I think it’s because sports dramas are more difficult to package into one hour segments. It’s like, if America can’t watch House or David Caruso solve something within an hour, they’re not interested. No one’s in for the long haul,as it were…something sports shows sort of require.

    Also, Lights Out was just boring. Sorry!

    By Red on Mar 31, 2011

  3. RED! Been a long time. Hope all is well.

    And I agree with you, sports dramas almost always have long-form stories that are told out over multiple episodes. So longer story arcs just aren’t the thing for America I guess.

    And I agree that Lights Out was slow in parts, but it’s one of those shows that you had to give a few episodes and let yourself get into the pace and let the characters develop. Was a lot like Deadwood in that way. If you watched like 2-3 episodes you might hate it, but over time you realized there was way more going on.

    Again, a four episode commitment is apparently asking too much from regular viewers these days.

    By Phillips on Mar 31, 2011

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