For those who were hoping to find out whether Rosalee and Noah were ever successful in freeing the rest of their friends and family from the Macon plantation, a satisfactory resolution to the story of the Macon Seven may come only if another network picks up Underground. WGN America has announced that it is canceling the critically acclaimed series after just two seasons.
The series’ cancellation comes just as WGN’s parent company, Tribune Media, is in the process of being acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group in a $3.9 billion deal that, according to the Hollywood Reporter, signals the end of WGN’s time as “a destination for high-end scripted originals.”
Tribune Media President and CEO Peter Kern issued a statement Tuesday:
Despite Underground being a terrific and important series, it no longer fits with our new direction and we have reached the difficult decision not to renew it for a third season. We are tremendously proud of this landmark series that captured the zeitgeist and made an impact on television in a way never before seen on the medium.
We thank the incomparable creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and the great John Legend, along with the talented creative team and cast who brought the unsung American heroes of the Underground Railroad to life. We are grateful to the loyal fans of Underground and our partners at Sony Pictures Television. It is our hope that this remarkable show finds another home and continues its stories of courage, determination and freedom.
As THR notes, this is the second WGN series to be canceled under Kern’s tenure. In April he canceled the top-rated show Outsiders and said at the time that the move was meant to reallocate resources “to a more diverse programming strategy” that would be more cost-effective and reach a broader audience.
In Tuesday’s statement, Kern also said that the new strategy is a way “to increase our relevance within the rapidly changing television landscape” and that canceling Underground was “designed to deliver additional value for our advertising and distribution partners and offer viewers more original content across our air.”
Because clearly you need something more original than the story of slaves trying to escape to freedom.
As news of the cancellation spread across social media, many suggested that BET or Oprah’s OWN pick up the series, but THR reports that both of those networks have already passed on the show, citing its high production costs.
Singer John Legend, an executive producer on the show, tweeted about the cancellation Tuesday, saying that WGN had been bought by a new company and was going in a different direction, but that Underground would find a new home.
“Content wins. We’re not reliant on a particular network to make great content. We’re so proud of our show and the audience that supported,” Legend wrote. “Be wary of Sinclair though. They’re trying to make local stations mini Fox Newses, but more to the right.”
Legend then encouraged fans of the show to let their favorite streaming services and networks know that they should pick up the show: “Feel free to drop some hints to the networks/streaming services you want to pick up #Underground. Show them who will be watching!”