Last night Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth MacFarlane’s Cosmos resurrection unspooled its final episode, having brought a sense of wonder back to the TV landscape — and to the Fox lineup, no less! For 13 episodes beginning this past March, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey invited viewers to ponder bigger questions than who would win American Idol this season, and perhaps even more importantly, to embrace the idea that not having all the answers is okay, so long as we keep searching. Honestly, it’s still hard to believe that we even got one new season of Cosmos in our current society, where science is all too often given false equivalency with misinformation, urban legends, and outright superstition. Dare we hope that we might have more Cosmos in our future?
Last night’s season finale pulled in 3.52 million viewers, which put it behind both NBC’s Believe and a repeat of CBS’ The Good Wife in terms of total viewers. That sounds a bit depressing, but the good news is that it beat those shows in the coveted 18-49 demographic. It has consistently pulled in over 3 million viewers during its Sunday-night airings, and even though those numbers aren’t huge — the first episode of Fox’s 24: Live Another Day back at the beginning of May, for instance, pulled in around 8 million viewers total — it’s worth noting that Sunday nights have had no shortage of competition, most notably HBO’s mega-hit Game of Thrones and the NHL playoffs.
So Cosmos was consistent, even if it didn’t conquer its timeslot. Will that be enough to warrant a second season from Fox? It’s certainly possible, and it still has one powerful ally: executive producer Seth MacFarlane, whose animated shows have helped define the Sunday-night Fox lineup for years, and who, along with Tyson, championed this latter-day return for the beloved 1980 science series hosted and created by the late Carl Sagan (along with his wife Ann Druyan and astrophysicist Steven Soter). Tyson introduced MacFarlane to Druyan in 2009 and the three began a friendship that, eventually, brought Sagan’s vision back to the airwaves in a way that likely would have been unthinkable without someone with MacFarlane’s industry pull going to bat for it. That clout could also very well help sway Fox to greenlight a second season, even if they might not have for another similar series without MacFarlane’s name in the credits.
For 13 episodes, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey aired on both Fox and the National Geographic Channel, with Tyson taking viewers on tours through the history of science and the wonders of our universe.
Perhaps most importantly, Cosmos stirred public conversation and debate in a way that was very heartening (even if there were some segments of the populace who were, to put it lightly, not fans). People have been talking about this show, and the crucial issues and questions it raises, in a far more widespread way than I expected before the show premiered. Who knows how many young viewers have felt that spark ignite in their guts, the ember that will steer them toward a career in the sciences, and help them shape a future for our species? Even if these 13 episodes are all we get, Cosmos has already had an unquestionable impact, and that’s awesome.
Even if we do get a second season, however, it might need a new host. Tyson has previously said he doesn’t have any official plans for more of the show, but I imagine he might have a hard time turning it down if Fox extended the offer. And if he did pass, I’m sure MarFarlane could probably track down Bill Nye’s phone number…
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) June 9, 2014