In a TV season that has seen many surprising cancellations, Kevin Can Wait's dismissal has been among the more startling announcements. The sitcom starring Kevin James and Leah Remini ran for two seasons, and seemed like a strong candidate for a third. At least until the bad news hit. Because fans crave answers, CBS is explaining why it cancelled Kevin Can Wait. According to CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl:
The numbers. It was a strong show for us; it's had a lot of decline this year, it was heading in the wrong direction. The numbers were going down as the year went on, and looking forward, it didn't look like a show that was going to be strong enough to anchor a night for us.
Ratings have been a consistent culprit when it comes to the networks' decisions to end series at all levels, and Kelly Kahl's statement to Deadline follows suit. Kevin James' return to television had been met with enthusiastic ratings when the sitcom premiered in 2016. As the season continued, those numbers eventually leveled out. And Season 2 tracked almost exactly the same way, opening big before stalling as the season continued. Curiosity over the show's creative overhaul was possibly the cause for that initial crowd.
When Kevin Can Wait was renewed for a second season, the show decided to kill off Kevin's wife Donna, played by Erinn Hayes. They then upgraded Leah Remini to female lead status, and the intention seemed pretty obvious. The audience wanted Leah Remini and Kevin James to reprise their dynamic from The King of Queens, in which they played a married couple, and the Season 2 reboot seemed to pave the way for that to happen, but things went sideways. Instead of inching towards a romantic union between Kevin and Vanessa, the show maintained the pair's professional relationship.
Of course, that may have changed if Kevin Can Wait had gotten a Season 3. When explaining the declining numbers, CBS EVP Thom Sherman touched on the controversy surrounding the decision to change female leads, saying:
The show made a choice at the beginning of this year, we agreed to go along with it, and unfortunately the audience did not respond to it.
In truth, Kevin Can Wait was in a no-win situation once they introduced Leah Remini's Vanessa. They could either keep Kevin with Donna and ignore his chemistry with Vanessa, or acknowledge fans' desire to have James and Remini's characters get together, which meant booting Donna in some fashion. By introducing Vanessa into the dynamic, they immediately gave fans a taste of King of Queens déjà vu and fans were not going to ignore it. You can't put the genie back in the bottle, and in Kevin Can Wait's case, it may have proved fatal.
Kevin Can Wait was not the only show that got the ax this season. For more TV cancellation news, check out our guide to the big shows that have been cancelled so far. For the latest on what's been cancelled and renewed this season, you can also check out our 2018 network TV rundown. If you want to find out what's coming up on TV before fall, check out our summer premiere schedule.