A Plea to the Television Gods
Joan fans try to keep the faith.
Written by Filed under Arts & Entertainment
In a television universe revolving around sex, humor and shock value, Joan of Arcadia stood out like a beacon of light. That is, until mid-May, when CBS abruptly cancelled the show after just two seasons. The introspective drama, which aired on Friday evenings, featured a suburban teenaged girl (Amber Tamblyn as Joan) who reluctantly talked to God whenever He appeared to her, usually in the body of a casual acquaintance. The irony is that even though Joan starred a gaggle of teenagers and featured heavy doses of popular music, it was cancelled because its audience was too old (median age 53.9)—a victim of CBS’s desire to become the most popular network among 18- to 49-year-old viewers.
CBS’s move surprised fans of the program, many of who still cannot believe that a critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated program with such wide crossover appeal could be cancelled so soon. Everyone from teens to grandparents identified with the spiritual issues raised through its diverse collection of characters, including a science geek (Joan’s younger brother), a wheelchair bound former jock crippled in an auto accident (Joan’s older brother), an artist (Joan’s boyfriend), and a tough-talking rebel (female friend). In short, there was something for everyone, especially parents, who used the show as a springboard to begin dialogues with their adolescent children about sensitive issues.
Among the devoted young followers was Angela Williams, 24, who launched savejoanofarcardia.com on May 19 in an effort to get CBS to either reconsider its decision or sell the program to another network. “Most of the people I know watched the show and it’s popular on the Internet so it was a little hard to believe that CBS decided to cancel it. After I got over the shock I was angry and determined to do what I could to get people together and save the show,” asserts Williams. To that end, Williams (as well as Webmasters of other fan sites like joanofarcadia.com) have been encouraging loyalists to make contact with CBS and its competitors and make their feelings known.
Before and after the cancellation many observers contended that if CBS wanted to attract younger viewers it should have simply moved Joan to another night of the week, an opinion with which Williams concurs. “Teens go out on Friday nights,” she says. “It’s going to be difficult to convince them to stay home and watch television when they’re in the peak of their adolescence and want to be with their friends.”