Fans are hoping their efforts to #SaveRebel will pay off.
In a surprising announcement last week, ABC decided to cancel the freshman drama series Rebel, starring Katey Sagal and created by Grey’s Anatomy show runner Krista Vernoff. Given that the series just started airing on April 8 of this year, the news was especially upsetting.
Not surprisingly, Rebel fans immediately started calling out ABC on social media for not giving the show enough time to establish a fan base. Meanwhile, Katy herself took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the cancellation decision. While explaining that she is “touched” by all those who have watched the series and offered up their support, the actress also said that ABC’s call to cancel based on four airings was a “shock and a heartbreak.”
“Things take time to catch on. Rebel tells the story of a woman who speaks up for what is right, the show has heart and purpose, funny and tears, and we, the cast, are all scratching our heads at the reversal of support from ABC,” Katey wrote in part.
In that same post, Katey called attention to a #SaveRebel petition currently circulating around the internet, which has amassed over 34,000 signatures so far. The petition calls ABC’s cancellation decision “rash” and encourages those who believe Rebel should be renewed for a second season to sign it and “spread the word.”
Meanwhile, Krista also expressed shock at the news. According to Deadline, Krista shared Katey’s Instagram post. The Grey’s Anatomy show runner also responded to speculation that the show’s pedigree and “strong cast” — which includes John Corbett, Sam Palladio, Lex Scott Davis and more — would help push it toward a season renewal. In response to the speculation, Krista wrote on Twitter, “You’d think, wouldn’t you? You give them three shows during a pandemic, they give you five episodes. Cool cool. Cool.”
So, why is Rebel getting canceled by ABC?
More often than not, these kinds of decisions come down to ratings and viewership numbers — and Rebel appears to be no different.
When offering some insight behind the decision as well as the call to cancel American Housewife, Mixed-ish and For Life, Craig Erwich, President, ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals, told Deadline: “They are all unique shows who on their own specific timeline where they are creatively and with the audience. I can say that just because we are not ordering new seasons does not take anything away from the impact that these shows had creatively or how many fans they have on ABC. These are difficult business decisions but we are really proud of the runs that all of these shows had.”
When the outlet pressed further about why Rebel wasn’t given more time to shine, Craig explained:
“Krista Vernoff is not just an amazing talent, she is a valued and beloved part of the Disney family. We gave Rebel a really considerable launch and a launch effort. It was a huge priority for us for midseason. One of the advantages of a stable schedule is, you can focus and platform new shows, which Rebel was a beneficiary of Unfortunately, it did not garner the audience that we needed it to do, so we had make that decision.”
For context, Rebel premiered at 3.6 million viewers and a .48 rating in the key 18-49 age demo and has since dropped to around 2.5 million viewers and a .3 rating. By comparison, Rebel’s premiere pulled in ratings in line with A Million Little Things’s season average, which is now in its third season.
What’s more, Craig told The Hollywood Reporter that they also took a close look at Rebel’s performance with delayed viewership. As he saw it, there was “just not a trend there toward continuing to build the audience.”