In a message posted on Twitter Friday, creator Jenn Kaytin Robinson wrote, “I got the news that MTV has cancelled Sweet/Vicious. To say that I am devastated would be the understatement of the year.”
— Jenn Kaytin Robinson (@JennKaytin) April 28, 2017
In a statement, an MTV spokesperson said, “MTV has decided to not move forward with a second season of ‘Sweet/Vicious.’ We are extremely proud of this critically acclaimed series and are deeply disappointed such an impactful show did not find a larger audience. ‘Sweet/Vicious’ was a show we loved from the start, with empowering female leads and a message we believe in. We are grateful the series started a much needed dialogue around sexual assault, and thank the talented Jennifer Robinson, Amanda Lasher, Stacey Sher and the stellar cast, writers and producers for creating such a timely and thought provoking series.”
Although “Sweet/Vicious,” a comedic drama about campus rape culture, was highly regarded by critics, its cancellation is unsurprising given recent changes at MTV. As part of a new strategy for the company’s cable channels rolled out in February, new Viacom CEO Bob Bakish signaled that MTV would pivot away from scripted series and back toward youth-oriented unscripted programming. At the time, MTV canceled two series, “Mary and Jane” and “Loosely Exactly Nicole,” that had recently finished their freshman seasons.
“We had a lot of scripted projects that didn’t resonate with the brand overall or connect to the viewers from our biggest reality shows,” MTV, VH1 and Logo president Chris McCarthy told Variety of his VH1 experience at the time. “Going forward at all of our channels we need to think, ‘Here’s our super fan. How do we serve them from a live (TV) perspective, from a scripted and from a reality perspective?’”
Lackluster ratings were a primary driver of the “Sweet/Vicious” cancellation. The show averaged a .08 rating among adults 18-49 and 180,000 total viewers in Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers. It did not perform much better in delayed viewing. Its Jan. 31 season finale grew only to 310,000 total viewers in live-plus-three. In the MTV target demo, the show averaged only a .16 live-plus-three rating.
In her review of the series for Variety, Maureen Ryan wrote, “Despite the low-key and occasionally goofy tone you’d expect from a semi-comedic saga about mismatched new friends, the core concern of “Sweet/Vicious” is the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. The main accomplishment of the promising show is that it never loses sight of the issues surrounding rape culture, violation, and consent. But it’s not an “eat your vegetables” kind of program — it’s essentially an enjoyable superhero saga.”
Created by Robinson, “Sweet/Vicious” was executive produced by Stacey Sher and Amanda Lasher.