Will 'The Whispers' Return For Season 2? Try To Enjoy The Thriller's Big Finale
It looks like the story of Drill the child-manipulating extra-terrestrial will be going out not with a bang... but with a whisper. With ABC's alien invasion thriller heading into its Season 1 finale this Monday night, no announcement has been made on whether The Whispers will return for Season 2, but the prospects of a sophomore season are dwindling with every passing day. So formulate your theories, make your predictions, and tune in to find out how the story ends — just don't hold your breath for more.
Two weeks ago, The Whispers fell to a series low of 2.51 million viewers and a 0.5 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic. Last week's penultimate episode rebounded a bit with 2.68 million pairs of eyeballs and a 0.6 rating, but it still came in third out of three broadcast programs in its time slot, after a rerun of NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS and the James Marsden-guest-starring episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls on NBC.
Now, it's true that network executives are a bit less concerned with ratings during the summer, when the vast majority of audiences are on vacation — or at least doing fun things outside that typically take priority over watching television in a dark room live while it's airing. Thus, the bar for renewal is relatively lower than it is during the main September-May TV season; and next to Summer 2015's two most critically-acclaimed breakout hits, Lifetime's UnREAL and USA's Mr. Robot , The Whispers looks like a definite winner.
Lifetime's behind-the-scenes reality TV drama only drew in 790,000 viewers for its Season 1 finale, with a 0.3 rating. Mr. Robot fared a bit better, with 1.32 million people tuning into its Aug. 19 penultimate episode — but even that's only half the number of people who watched the most recent episode of The Whispers (although they're practically tied in their 18-49 ratings, with Mr. Robot's 0.5 nearly matching The Whispers' recent 0.6.)
So why is The Whispers likely to be cancelled while both UnREAL and Mr. Robot have already secured Season 2 pickups? Unfortunately, those shows air on cable networks, where the audience size is always generally smaller. Since it's airing on a broadcast network, The Whispers should theoretically have a wider reach... and less than 3 million viewers simply won't cut it. The Whispers is actually lagging compared to other summer programs airing on broadcast channels — like FOX's Wayward Pines (average 3.82 million/1.1 rating) or CBS' Under The Dome (average 4.84 million/1.0 rating). And it's important to point out that, even with its numbers, Wayward Pines was not renewed for Season 2.
But attempting to predict a show's future through ratings can often feel like trying to divine the future through soggy tea leaves — NBC did renew Hannibal twice despite subpar numbers, after all. But more damning than The Whispers' audience size are the cast's contracts, which expired two months ago, according to Deadline, with no sign of ABC making efforts to renegotiate them. Apparently, even if star Lily Rabe had signed on for Season 2, it would have been for a "limited number of episodes" in order to allow her to pursue other endeavors onscreen and onstage.
If there's one thing Whispers fans should take solace in, it's the fact that even though their beloved show may very likely be cancelled, they will still be getting a complete ending to the story. "You are going to get a very satisfying season and an amazing conclusion to the season, no matter what," showrunner Zack Estrin promised in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "There's not going to be some kind of disappointment in the end." Unless, of course, you didn't want it to end in the first place.
Images: Eike Schroter (2), Ed Araquel/ABC