USA Network has opted not to order additional episodes of Political Animals, its acclaimed-yet-ratings-challenged drama from Greg Berlanti and Laurence Mark and starring Sigourney Weaver. Although billed as a “limited series event,” Berlanti told TVLine over the summer that there was potential to spin more stories about the Barrish family (fronted by Weaver) and intrepid journo Susan Berg (Carla Gugino). But the ratings never matched the universal raves it garnered; the Washington D.C.-set saga averaged roughly 3.2 million viewers during its run. Still, there was hope that the undeniable cachet it brought to USA would lead to a Season 2 order. “We are proud of Political Animals, our miniseries that attracted critical acclaim and impacted the cultural conversation this summer,” the network said in a statement. “It was a pleasure to work with Greg Berlanti and Laurence Mark and a powerful cast led by Sigourney Weaver. We look forward to collaborating again with these immensely talented creatives.” In a statement released via Twitter on Friday, Berlanti called the project “one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life,” adding, “The cast, the crew, writers, studio and USA were all a dream to work with. We all got to make what we set out to. Couldn’t be more proud!”
Though Political Animals, USA Network’s star-studded “limited series event,” by no means roared out of the gate ratings-wise, laying claim to a piece of the pop culture conversation and generating buzz in other ways could – could– be enough to trigger a Season 2 pick-up.
Facing stiff competition in its July 15 bow – including Breaking Bad‘s final season opener, HBO’s noisy if polarizing The Newsroom and A&E’s ever-rising Longmire – Political Animals started off with an audience of 2.6 million total viewers and a 0.5 demo rating. In Week 2, those numbers dipped, about 10 percent.
But when asked if there was a ratings target/minimum that would prompt a renewal order, NBC Universal chair Bonnie Hammer shook her head and told TVLine, “We never quite measure it that black-and-white. We want to see what the response is, we want to see who comes [and see] what kind of interesting buzz it brings to USA as a whole.
“It’s never just, ‘Do you hit a certain rating?’” she reiterated. “It’s really about the whole, what it adds to USA as a brand.”
Though Political Animals was from the get-go announced as a six-week limited series, series creator Greg Berlanti tells us “the hope” has always been to tell more stories about the Barrish family (fronted by Sigourney Weaver), intrepid journo Susan Berg (Carla Gugino) et al.
“Everyone is contracted for multiple seasons if we get picked up for multiple seasons,” Berlanti says. “We have a whole life of the characters [planned out], some of which is set up in these six [episodes], and a lot of which we pay off in these six.”
“The season can come down [after] six and hopefully you’ll be satisfied with what’s gone on,” adds executive producer Laurence Mark. “But we’re happy to raise the curtain again!”