Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies has been robbed of its Breaking Bad moment

tricia fukuhara, marisa davila, cheyenne wells and ari notartomaso, grease rise of the pink ladies
Grease prequel cancellation highlights a problem Eduardo Araquel/Paramount+
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Jam-packed with nostalgia, strong female leads, a queer love story and an impressive young cast to boot, it seemed as though Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies had all the ingredients of a hit in the making when it dropped on Paramount+ in April 2023.

The prequel series, which is set four years before Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko reminisced about their summer nights and became hopelessly devoted to one another (sorry), follows four outcast students who work to reclaim and forever change the halls of Rydell High by forming their own girl gang, The Pink Ladies.

As we mentioned in our review, …Pink Ladies managed to preserve what fans loved about the original film, with its glitzy musical numbers and female friendship, while delving deeper into the thought-provoking topics that were merely touched upon in Grease (it was made in the '70s, after all) and providing a truer reflection of the diverse experiences that existed in 1950s America as much as they do today. "It's still Grease — only a sharper, more focused Grease rooted in truth."

tricia fukuhara, marisa davila, cheyenne wells, ari notartomaso, grease rise of the pink ladies

And yet, despite the show's clear promise, Paramount+ announced on Friday (June 23) that …Pink Ladies has been axed after one season due to cost-cutting measures and it will be removed from the platform in its entirety this week, less than a month (!) after its final episode aired on June 1.

Addressing this incredibly "brutal move" from Paramount, series creator Annabel Oakes said: "The cast, my creative partners, and I are all devastated at the complete erasure of our show."

It marks yet another diverse show with strong female and queer leads that has been cancelled before it even had the chance to really take off (see Paper Girls, First Kill, Vampire Academy, Willow etc, etc, etc).

…Pink Ladies (and all the other prematurely cancelled shows that came before it) may not have raked in the views right away, but with a second season, it could have established its audience and evolved into something more. It makes us wonder how it would have fared on a traditional TV network years ago rather than a streaming platform.

kallie hu, madison thompson, ari notartomaso and cheyenne wells, grease rise of the pink ladies
Eduardo Araquel/Paramount+

It's difficult to believe now, but the US version of The Office wasn't well received by critics or audiences when it debuted on NBC in 2005. But NBC made a punt and renewed the show anyway. Nine seasons and numerous awards later, The Office is now regarded as one of the most beloved comedies of all time.

Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Community are just some other examples of now hugely popular shows that were nearly sent to the TV graveyard after their debut seasons, while smash-hit dramas like Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights also struggled with low viewership to begin with. It just proves that time and second chances can often lead to great television.

But in the age of streaming today, many TV shows aren’t given the same time or courtesy to establish audiences and prove their worth. Instead, they're under intense scrutiny to perform well as soon as they're released.

Take Netflix, for example. If a show fails to accumulate enough viewership within its first 28 days of release, it's more often than not cancelled. This completely misses the point of "on-demand" television, in which you can supposedly watch what you want, when you want. In other words, if you like a show, you better binge the hell out of it immediately and tell everyone you know to do the same.

marisa davila, grease rise of the pink ladies
Eduardo Araquel/Paramount+

Granted, …Pink Ladies had a weekly release, but the point still stands. Some prefer to consume shows in their entirety, so they'll wait until all the episodes have been released. Others might discover a show later on – whether by browsing a platform's extensive catalogue or hearing about it through word-of-mouth – then tune in.

Viewership for Succession (one of HBO's most successful shows) saw a huge jump between the 997,000 viewers who tuned in for the season-one finale to the 1.2 million viewers for the season-two premiere. One can only assume that most of those viewers watched season one after it was released in its entirety before tuning it for the season-two premiere.

Given that the ...Pink Ladies finale aired barely a few weeks ago (not to mention the show's low-key marketing), it was never given a chance. And we'll never know if it could have acquired a larger audience ahead of its second season now that it's being taken off Paramount+ entirely.

TV is a business, and if a show doesn't make enough money or garner enough viewers, it makes sense that it's cancelled. However, many shows on these streaming platforms are being cancelled just months after their premieres, which doesn't seem like nearly enough time to determine whether or not they're a hit or a miss.

For now, all we can do is hope that …Pink Ladies will picked up by another network. Oakes has confirmed that there is an active search for a new home, so fans might be in luck yet.

Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is available to stream (for now) on Paramount+.

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