Lifetime has opted to not renew flagship drama Devious Maids for a fifth season, KSiteTV has learned. The decision comes about three weeks following the show’s fourth season finale, which concluded with a cliffhanger featuring a main character being kidnapped on her wedding day.
After not being picked up to series by ABC in 2012, the network the series was originally developed for, Devious Maids was moved to Lifetime the following year where it had a strong ratings trajectory for season one. Ratings have dipped in every subsequent season, though season four nearly doubled former critical darling UnREAL in total viewers and led the series by 50% in Live + Same Day demo. Most tellingly, Devious Maids was unable to recover from not being directly produced by Lifetime/A&E Networks (it’s an ABC production) and not being developed by the latest scripted regime to take over Lifetime despite the ratings lead, solid DVR gains, its status as the network’s #1 scripted show, and a socially engaged fan base.
Devious Maids was also the victim of a creative retool at Lifetime. Following the success of UnREAL season one, Lifetime rebranded itself away from addictive soaps like Maids and toward prestige plays like the reality TV satire. What’s ironic about this is that sentiment toward UnREAL soured almost immediately into its overwrought, self-satisfied second season, which saw the series deep dive into narrative excess, confounding pacing, and the irredeemablity of every single main character. Rather than have (and make) shows that resonate with their audience, embracing their brand and going after a soap audience that hasn’t been served well in recent years, Lifetime has opted to embrace little-watched shows like UnREAL and face the uphill battle of convincing audiences and critics that they’re more than the women-in-peril movies that’ve defined them for years.
It’s not just that Lifetime is heading into 2017 with one scripted show in total that can’t average a 0.20 in the demo, which should honestly scare the living daylights out of the two dramas they have in development. It’s that the network is yet another outlet that has essentially invalidated the existence of soapy television. For some reason, it’s seen as shameful or embarrassing to be a network that primarily targets women through soaps and lighter fare; it’s somehow more noble to try to appease television critics than actually embrace a brand that has mostly worked for you over the years. With how many outlets there are right now, it’s better to do something that differentiates your network from the crowd. Becoming the umpteeth network to be making dark, “edgy” dramas about terrible people not only clashes with Lifetime’s unscripted and TV movie brands, it makes them a much less distinct network. And with the direction that television is going, networks are going to need to prove their importance to consumers rather than embrace a muddled cable landscape that could use a serious dose of humor.
Based on telenovela Ellas son…la Alegría del Hogar and developed for American television by Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Devious Maids followed a group of maids working for some of the most powerful families in Beverly Hills. The series starred Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace), Dania Ramirez (Entourage), Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Rebecca Wisocky (90210), Tom Irwin (Saving Grace), and Susan Lucci (All My Children).
Do you think Lifetime made the right choice in cancelling Devious Maids? Will Lifetime’s plan to go after more prestige projects blow up in their face? Who would’ve ultimately been responsible for kidnapping Marisol?