ABC's Entertainment President Karey Burke addressed the decision to cancel Speechless on Tuesday, admitting that it came down a matter of numbers.
Speechless joined the ranks of canceled TV shows this season, and fans were heartbroken. At the ABC Upfronts presentation on Tuesday, Burke said that the network was not thrilled either, but the decision was based entirely on ratings and advertising dollars.
According to The Hollywood Reporter's Lesley Goldberg on Twitter, Burke said that the Speechless cancellation "came down to numbers." She reportedly added that ABC hopes that Fresh Off the Boat will do better in the Friday night time slot, leading directly into ABC News' 20/20.
Speechless was officially canceled last week, although its fate had been uncertain for a while. On Friday, ABC announced the cancellation along with many others throughout the week, including Splitting Up Together, The Fix, The Kids Are Alright and For the People. Speechless had an average rating of 0.5 in the key demographic of adults ages 18-49, and 2.3 million viewers per episode.
Still, the show was beloved among fans, and it was nominated for several awards in its three-season run. It even took home the Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming back in 2017. On Twitter, star Minnie Driver reacted to the cancellation.
"Well now listen. Speechless has been canceled and it feels rather sad. However, I truly believe we have left this conversation about family, disability and love in a better place than we found it. I love all the people I worked with on it, and all of you who loved our show too," she wrote.
Meanwhile, the sixth season of Fresh Off the Boat will take the time slot previously filled by Speechless, and that is a source of controversy too. Last week, when the Fresh Off the Boat renewal was officially announced, star Constance Wu posted posted a few surprisingly angry comments about the deal on social media.
Wu later clarified that she was upset because the renewal forced her to give up another job opportunity, though she did not explain what it was. At the Upfronts on Tuesday, Burke assured reporters from TV Line that there are no hard feelings between Wu and the network over the outburst.
“There have been no thoughts of recasting Constance. We love what she does on the show, and we love the show,” she said. “I did know that she had another opportunity that, had Fresh Off the Boat not gone forward, she would have pursued. But we never really considered not bringing the show back. It’s just too strong for us.”
Burked added Wu is "happy to return to the show," and that she herself is “going to choose to believe Constance’s most recent communications about the show.”