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'Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell' Canceled. Last Show Airs This Week

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 13, 2013 5:03 PM
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kamau Bell

FXX has confirmed Defamer's report that the network has indeed canceled late night talk show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, citing declining ratings after the show was moved from FX to FXX - a move that itself was questionable, I thought, when it happened earlier this year.

This comes months after the show scored its best ratings ever, while still on FX, delivering series highs in total viewers (577,000) and Women 18-49 (178,000).

I say the move to FXX was questionable, because as an FX offshoot channel in its first year, it doesn't reach anywhere near the number of households FX does, so it shouldn't be a surprise that there'd be a drop in viewership. It's almost as if FX intentionally sent it FXX to die.

I couldn't even tell you what channel FXX is on, here in NYC on my cable TV provider in Brooklyn.

After its move to FXX, viewership dropped significantly. As Deadline reported at the end of October, that week's show drew only 12,000 total viewers during its timeslot, and registered a "0" on the Nielsen charts. 

12,000 total viewers! Public access program level numbers! Down from the few hundred thousand it typically drew when it was on FX. Clearly the folks who were watching it on FX didn't all make the switch to FXX. Was there adequate marketing on FX alerting viewers of the move to FXX before and after it happened?

It probably didn't help that, when it returned this fall to a nightly program on FXX, it was going directly up against The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, at 11pm, every night. When it was on FX, it aired on Thursday nights only at 11pm, so it was already in competition with The Daily Show, but that was just one night a week. When it moved to FXX, it was on 4 nights a week, competing each night with the other show. 

I haven't been a regular watcher of the Chris Rock-produced series. I did watch several early episodes, and wasn't immediately hooked on his style. And with so much else competing for my time, I never really returned to it.

I've caught a few clips from the show here and there, usually when friends share on Facebook or Twitter share. And I'd say that I probably appreciate his interview segments with guests more than his stand-up routine.

But no matter, because it's all done for now.

The final show will air tomorrow, Thursday night. 

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  • imnsa | November 16, 2013 8:36 PMReply

    I agree with those that felt the show was killed off purposefully. I also agree that the show as not funny and was a sterotypical hipster act through and through.
    Didn't enjoy it at all.

  • Alias | November 14, 2013 3:03 PMReply

    @ Aaron and other posters I completely agree that the execs at FX decided they were no longer interested in Bell and conspired to kill his show. I don't understand the reasoning behind the creation of FXX. I do receive it on my cable system, but I stumbled on to it, by chance, one day. And it's not a channel that's wired in my brain as part of my regular rotation of channels with programming that I'm likely to watch.

  • CareyCarey | November 14, 2013 10:07 AMReply

    Does W. Kamau Bell = Craig Robinson? I just asked the question because many in the black community do not wrap their arms around Mr. Robinson's brand of humor. Well, I do know he does not receive the pub on this site as other black comedians... and we all know what happened to "Peeples", even though he was paired with Shadow and Act's favorite mistress Oliva Pope (Kerry Washington).

  • CareyCarey | November 17, 2013 1:33 PM

    Good point 90056. Now I don't know if the mainstream audience will spit them out, but history says they will never make it to the top of the mainstream's mountain. They'll be relegated to the white man's buddy roles or added to a cast for color and faux-diversity. Think Kenan Thompson.

    On the other hand, as you implied, when black folks love you, you're on your way to the cabin in the sky. Think Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Fox, Bernie Mac and... I have to say it... "Medea", the richest black comedian in America. Yep, when black folks got you, you are in for the long haul.

  • 90056 | November 17, 2013 11:15 AM

    I agree with this. Black comics that don't resonate with black audiences don't have longevity. The black audience is your base, the mainstream audience will chew you up and spit you out, but black folks will support you for years if your funny.

  • Arthur | November 14, 2013 9:16 AMReply

    I was excited about this show when it first came out and watched a few episodes on Hulu, however there was nothing about it that made me want to "remember" to watch it again. Like most people I do not have FXX to watch it on there. I think the biggest problem with the show was finding it's core audience, because it wasn't aimmed at black folks. The show was aimmed at white people, and giving them the insight of a Negro who has assimilated into their culture.

  • Aaron | November 14, 2013 7:23 AMReply

    That's how the networks do now. If they want to kill off a show with a good explanation, they they move the show somewhere else like an odd timeslot or different channel altogether then when the viewership drops then cancel it and say that the viewership failed. It's always planned.

  • Africameleon | November 14, 2013 3:06 AMReply

    Agreed @BlkSista, they wanted to kill it. "Scheduling issues?" This reminds me of what happened to Ironside, which was scheduled on Wednesday night the same night as Criminal Minds, CSI:, and AMS:Coven - bad idea. Execs are making these moves and decisions on purpose.

  • Akimbo | November 14, 2013 1:44 AMReply

    I liked the idea of the show, but didn't really connect with him. He seemed like a good guy, but wasn't funny, and was always giggling at his own (not very funny) jokes.

  • Miles Ellison | November 13, 2013 10:14 PMReply

    The only real explanation is that they didn't want anyone to watch the show. When people actually did watch it, they made sure that nobody could watch it if they wanted to. I don't even get FXX where I live. I suspect that a fairly large number of people all over the country don't get it either.

  • blksista | November 13, 2013 7:58 PMReply

    They wanted to kill it.

  • sthn | November 13, 2013 6:15 PMReply

    We'll be right back! Apparently not.

  • sergio | November 13, 2013 5:51 PMReply

    I have to be honest I always forgot about this show. The few times I remembered to watch it I thought it was O.K. at best. Never really laugh out loud funny. I thought a lot of his humor was very "obvious", if you know what I mean. I could say out the punch line before it got to it

    But then again I didn't think Dave Chapelle was laugh out loud funny either...

  • CareyCarey | November 17, 2013 1:10 PM

    Nope Sergio, how did you come to those conclusions based on what I wrote?

    Read it there and you'll find it fair... I said a black man who didn't find Chapelle funny and has NEVER seen an entire basketball game or football game IN THEIR ENTIRE LIFE.... IS an odd sort of fellow. They are as rare as black presidents of the United States. In fact, you ARE the first black man I've ever heard make such a claim. But if you ever wanna come back home, we'll keep the lights on.

  • sergio | November 17, 2013 12:31 PM

    So every single black person on the entire planet is supposed to think that Chapelle was the funniest thing that ever was in existance? Anf if t you didn't what then? You're a race traitot comdemmned to die? No one can have a different opinion about anything or must everyone follow your opinion? Guess what I don't watch sports either and have no interest in them. I actually have never seen an entire basketball or football in my like. I guess I'm headed staight to hell then

  • CareyCarey | November 14, 2013 2:40 PM

    "But then again I didn't think Dave Chapelle was laugh out loud funny either..."

    It was apropos to excuse yourself from that comment. I mean, it is an odd sort of fellow who didn't find Dave Chapelle to be laugh out loud funny. Seriously... I have to question the type of guy who didn't find Chapelle's Oprah Winfrey's babies daddy skit, or his Micheal Jackson and Rick James' skit to be laugh out loud funny?

    But I am having an even harder time understanding (as some has claimed) why a company/network would purposely throw their investment down the drain? That does not make any sense to me.

  • nweastcoaster | November 13, 2013 5:14 PMReply

    I'm very bummed to read of this. It's rare to get a talk show that discusses the issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia, yet filters those issues through a funny satirical lense. Also a show that features people of color who exist outside of the stereotypical boxes they're placed in by society. Hopefully Bell will remount this show or something similar on another network, e.g., IFC, HBO, SHO, or maybe even Comedy Central if they've got the political courage.

  • niksmit | November 14, 2013 11:44 AM

    I'm bummed too. I guess I was one of only a few people in this country who thought it was funny. I will say that I was assisted by a DVR back when the show was on FX or else I would have forgotten about it. The move to FXX sounded shaky to me and look what we have here. I wish Bell and his team luck on their next things.

  • getthesenets | November 14, 2013 12:42 AM

    show wasn't funny was pointed out earlier... the glasses...the gear.....the carefully styled to look like it's not styled hair...that's a box unto itself, truth be told

  • Troy | November 13, 2013 9:00 PM

    No I did and I have seen almost all his shows. I have never seen any of his standup though. He and his look is common not his show. His look is common.

  • nweastcoaster | November 13, 2013 5:58 PM

    Troy, you obviously don't recall or did see black teen heavy metal outfit Unlocking the Truth on Totally Biased---as far from the stereotypical and musical establishment norm of black america as you can get.

  • Troy | November 13, 2013 5:40 PM

    Only multicultural hipsters think multicultural hipsters aren't stereotypical. Black guy with untamed Afro, glasses, biracial family, none name brand clothes is more typical on television and bit roles than the hip hop negro they just don't have their own channel.

  • Ci | November 13, 2013 5:11 PMReply

    I stopped watching the show once it moved to FXX because 1) I don't have FXX and 2) I didn't like the idea of it being a daily show (no pun).

    I don't even know what FXX's mission is as a channel.

    Damn shame for Kamau Bell.

  • Troy | November 13, 2013 5:36 PM

    It started as a daily then got scaled back then got bumped up.

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