“Reboot,” Steve Levitan’s snarky meta sitcom about a TV series that gets rebooted two decades after its abrupt cancellation, has been canceled. While I’d like to believe that this is all an elaborate scheme to announce a reboot of “Reboot” and make life imitate art, this isn’t a bit. Hulu has officially pulled the plug on the short-lived comedy.
During its eight-episode first season, “Reboot” told the story of “Step Right Up,” an early 2000s family sitcom being rebooted by Hulu for a new generation. That clever conceit paved the way for plenty of jokes poking fun at the industry through a disgruntled writers’ room, an ongoing war with the Hulu executives, and the general insanity of actors navigating the press cycle, Hollywood expectations, and the changing nature of comedy. Plus, it was all wrapped up with the comfortable bow of a workplace comedy. The series starred Keegan-Michael Key, Johnny Knoxville, Judy Greer, and Calum Worthy as the show’s returning cast members, Rachel Bloom as the edgy millennial writer heading up the reboot, Paul Reiser as the show’s original creator, and Krista Marie Yu as a Hulu exec overseeing the reboot.
While “Reboot” won’t have a future with Hulu, Variety reports that the series is being shopped to other networks — much like recently canceled titles from Netflix, Showtime, TNT, and more. This leaves us with a question: if everyone is canceling shows left and right and creators are bridging them around to streamers/networks in the hopes of being picked up, it’s starting to feel less and less likely that these titles will be saved.
A heavy-hearted goodbye
In wake of the cancellation news, cast member Johnny Knoxville took to social media to praise the work of series creator Steve Levitan and express his frustration over Hulu’s choice. “It’s with a heavy heart that I say that despite getting great reviews and being nominated for a critics choice award, Hulu has failed to pick up ‘Reboot’ even for a second season,” the “Jackass” star wrote in an Instagram post. “Pretty unbelievable.”
Knoxville played one of the returning sitcom stars aka former “bad boy” of the cast, Clay Barber. His character was a prime example of the show’s layered approach to comedy — a known womanizer who once kept his castmates at a distance, Clay was revealed to be a recovering alcoholic with a soft spot for his friends. In his post, Knoxville continued:
“Working on this show has been one of the great highlights of my life, and I wanted to thank Steve Levitan and the entire stellar cast for allowing me to be part of this show. It’s not over yet though, as we tend to shop it around and hopefully it will find a home with a studio who believes in and knows how to properly support a new show as it continues to grow.”
Another one bites the dust
The impossible dilemma of sitcoms, which never ceases to repeat itself, is that they are too often canceled too soon. Yes, some sitcoms arrive fully formed (a la “Abbott Elementary,” which needed no time to hit its stride) but others need a moment to settle into their premise. Even “The Office” remains one of those shows whose recommendation comes with the “give it a season” caveat, as do the other hugely celebrated sitcoms of the 21st century like “Parks and Rec,” or “Schitt’s Creek.” Perhaps “Reboot” just needed a little more time to reach its full potential. But if it doesn’t find a home elsewhere, we’ll never know.
Personally, I would argue that the series was pretty damn good as it was. With just an eight-episode first season, “Reboot” hilariously mined its premise for great material, offering occasionally scathing commentary on the state of Hollywood and great, compelling character drama from characters who were always entertaining.
For the time being, we can remain hopeful that “Reboot” will find a new home. Per Deadline, Levitan’s plans to shop the show around to other streamers and networks may already be bearing fruit. An “unnamed streaming service” has already asked to read some scripts for a potential second season. And thanks to the meta nature of the series, moving from one streamer to another would probably inspire a great plot line for the characters. Hulu is already worked into the DNA of the show (the reboot of “Step Right Up” is a fictional Hulu original), so wouldn’t it be funny for both the shows to move elsewhere? The jokes about Peacock or Paramount+ swooping in for a re-reboot basically write themselves.