The premise of Imaginary Mary is that a woman named Alice, who has an irrational fear of commitment, brings back her furry, imaginary friend from childhood to help her as she navigates a serious relationship with a man who has three kids. Yet, the CGI buddy that makes the ABC sitcom so original just may have been the element that led to its demise. The season finale of the Jenna Elfman series airs on May 30, and the fate of the show has already been decided — and it's not good news for fans. The season finale, "Sleepover," is really the series finale, since TV Line reported that Imaginary Mary was canceled after only nine episodes.
If you were like me, you decided to embark on this midseason pickup from ABC and accepted the conceit of the polka-dotted CGI Mary voiced by Rachel Dratch. So you too might be disappointed to hear that Imaginary Mary won't be getting a second season. However, if you look up reviews and ratings, you'll see that most critics and audiences weren't thrilled with the show. On Rotten Tomatoes, Imaginary Mary has a 25 percent rating based on reviews from 20 critics. It only averaged around three million viewers an episode, according to TV Series Finale. For the sake of comparison, the popular ABC sitcom Modern Family averaged close to seven million viewers an episode for its eighth season.
Variety noted that Imaginary Mary's prospects were never good to begin with — even though the series was created by Adam F. Goldberg and David Guaracio, who are behind another (successful) ABC sitcom, The Goldbergs. Before Imaginary Mary even had a premiere date, the network cut the show from being 13 episodes to nine. So there were clearly signs of trouble from the very beginning for Elfman's show.
While the cancellation is no shocker, what could surprise you — if you've been enjoying the series — is why the show has received so much hate. While I don't mind Mary (thanks in part, probably, because I adore Dratch), I'm with the critics who believe the trouble with the character stems from the fact that she's not actually helping Alice much. After only a few episodes, her existence already felt unnecessary.
But if you ignore this major flaw and don't mind very generic sitcom plot points, the cast is affable enough. Perhaps I'm a sucker for Stephen Schneider as Ben because of his time as Jeremy on Broad City, but I'm even a fan of Ben's kids — particularly Nicholas Coombe as neurotic Andy. And Elfman holds her own, whether she's having to interact with an imaginary creature or real-life humans. And there seemed to be good things in store for the ensemble since Natalie Morales (of Parks and Recreation, Girls, and Santa Clarita Diet) was introduced as one of Alice's friends.
The eighth episode set up the impending marriage of Ben and Alice, but Imaginary Mary will never get to explore what could have been. But you have one last chance to see Mary in all of her imaginary glory. The last episode of Imaginary Mary airs on May 30 at 9:30 p.m. Although the emotionally-stunted Alice has made some progress, her growth will forever be frozen in time — just like her imaginary friend.