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Is Showtime Giving Up on Comedy?

The cancellation of I Love That For You leaves the network’s lineup devoid of original laughs.
  • Vanessa Bayer in I Love That For You (Photo: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME)
    Vanessa Bayer in I Love That For You (Photo: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME)

    Joanna Gold has sold her last infinity scarf — on Showtime at least. On June 8, the network canceled the Vanessa Bayer comedy I Love That For You, one of the last scripted originals awaiting its fate on the bubble. Production company Annapurna is expected to shop it around, hoping the series will find new life elsewhere, much like Three Women, which was canceled by Showtime in January but picked up by Starz in February. But by canceling I Love That For You, the network is solidifying its new direction, one that leaves innovative comedies like Bayer’s behind.

    I Love That For You was a worthy showcase for Bayer, who based the story partially on her real-life brush with childhood leukemia. Joanna Gold (Bayer) also experienced cancer as a child, and as an adult pretends the cancer has returned in order to give herself a juicy story to sell as the star of a QVC-like home shopping show. In the role, Bayer embraced awkwardness and reveled in the cringiest moments possible, allowing her to perform at the height of her over-the-top comedic abilities.

    In between the pitch-perfect, straight-faced delivery of silly lines like, “I’m the biggest dumbest turd in the universe, I stink and I smell,” were moments of emotional depth, exploring the highs and lows of wanting to belong and succeed more than anything. That range was bolstered by the ensemble cast, including veterans like Molly Shannon and Jenifer Lewis in rich roles worthy of their immense talents. The show also allowed lesser-known actors like Paul James, Matt Rogers, Ayden Mayeri, and Punam Patel to gain recognition as comedic powerhouses.

    When the show premiered in May 2022, it fit right into a roster of exciting comedic programs that didn’t rely on existing IP for inspiration, shows like Ziwe and Flatbush Misdemeanors, and Work in Progress and Black Monday before them. Every one of these series have since been canceled at Showtime. As the network pivots to focusing on existing IP — spinoffs of Dexter, Billions, and Homeland as well as revivals of Weeds and Nurse Jackie are currently in the works — the scarce original programming is made up of dramas Yellowjackets and The Chi.

    Showtime does have two original comedies on the horizon: Nathan Fielder’s The Curse and Seasoned, a series inspired by real-life couple Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody. But premiere dates have not yet been set for either, and though The Curse is currently in post-production, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe — Three Women was completely finished when it was dropped by the network. The ultimate fate of these series will speak volumes about Showtime’s plan for future original comedies.

    I Love That For You Season 1 is streaming on Paramount+ with Showtime. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: I Love That For You, Paramount+, Showtime, Flatbush Misdemeanors, Nurse Jackie, Three Women, Weeds, Ziwe, Jenifer Lewis, Molly Shannon, Vanessa Bayer