'Doubt's Cancellation Can't Overshadow The Good It Did While It Aired

by Kayla Hawkins
Cliff Lipson/CBS

It's always tough to see a TV show not live up to its promise, and CBS' Doubt, which brought together Katherine Heigl, several former Grey's Anatomy producers, and Laverne Cox as the first transgender lead character played by a trans actor on a network drama, was far less than the sum of its parts. Doubt was canceled by CBS after just two episodes, getting pulled from the winter schedule in favor of Bull reruns. But it wasn't until June, when the remainder of the series' 13 episodes began airing on Saturday nights, that it was confirmed that Doubt will not return for any additional episodes.

But until the series finale airs, producer Tony Phelen is attempting to use Twitter to rally his audience in hopes of helping the show finish stronger than it started. And his efforts may be working, because as TV By the Numbers reports, the ratings for Doubt's summer episodes are actually pretty strong, considering that summer Saturdays are basically the worst timeslot imaginable. According to TVBTN, over half a million people have been watching Doubt live, and the same amount have been watching the episode within seven days. That's not bad, considering the Doubt series premiere netted only 0.8 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic (with 5.7 million overall), according to Variety. Yes, there's been an understandable dip, but for a show that's on its last legs, it looks like there is a small but dedicated audience that would have followed Doubt had it not been canceled so quickly and unceremoniously.

Could a growing audience save Doubt? Considering that even the impressive summer numbers are significantly less than the numbers that got the show yanked from its original timeslot, these episodes are probably not enough on their own to un-cancel the show. And weird as that may sound, series have been un-canceled before — just this year, NBC announced that Timeless would be ending, only to un-announce it a few days later, after a huge fan outcry at the show's fate. A few years earlier, CBS cancelled Unforgettable after one season, then decided to reverse the decision and bring the drama back for an additional two seasons. However, according to The New York Times, Unforgettable's first season ratings were between twelve and fourteen million viewers per episode, far higher than Doubt's ratings.

One of the biggest ways Phelan has stuck up for his show is to point out the ways in which the Laverne Cox character, Cameron, has broken new ground for transgender women on TV, pointing out that not only has the show cast Cox, but it's also given her a love story, and, according to GLAAD, behind the scenes, the show increased representation as well. Aug. 5 episode, "I'm In If You Are" was written by trans author and staff writer Imogen Binnie. Binnie's Twitter bio jokingly says, "every TV show I've written for has been canceled after two episodes," but it seems the episode was extremely emotional for both Binnie and Cox, and deeply meaningful.

Even with the importance of the last few episodes of Doubt, and the history of TV shows being un-canceled after network announcements, it doesn't seem as though there's a future for Doubt beyond its double header finale planned for Aug. 12. But even though Doubt won't be back on the CBS schedule, at least fans will get the closure of watching the remainder of the first season play out as intended.