As someone who enjoys and experiences TV in both a professional and a leisurely sense, I’m overjoyed by how many networks have embraced adding scripted series to their programming. But it always slips my mind that it just means that many more series are going to be cancelled, and Lifetime recently pulled the plug on its dystopian drama The Lottery less than a month after the first season ended with a ratings whimper.
The Lottery premiered back in July to numbers marginally higher than one million viewers, which probably wouldn’t have been an instant pink slip had those viewers stuck around. Unfortunately for all involved, live airings attracted fewer and fewer people as the rest of the 10-episode season continued. There were a few audience increases, but the season finale on September 28 only attracted 425,000 people, with only 160,000 in the key demographic. The average across all the episodes was 670,000. Those aren’t “instant renewal” numbers, obviously.
Created by Timothy J. Sexton, The Lottery took place in the year 2025, years after a seemingly unexplainable pandemic stopped women from being able to conceive children. A team at the Department of Humanity make a breakthrough and successfully fertilize 100 eggs, which are the “prize” in a nationwide lottery to see who gets to carry them to term. But because the government is involved, things get really murky, as they wanted to keep extremely close ties to all of these children. The series starred Martin Donovan, Marley Shelton, Athena Karkanis, Michael Graziadei, Shelley Conn, and Yul Vazquez. Check out a preview for it below, and maybe you’ll like it enough to check it out on DVD and then get it can resurrected on Hulu or someone else next year.
If it sounds a bit like the excellent feature Children of Men, it’s because Sexton also wrote that film. Apparently this kind of barren women lightning doesn’t strike twice, but at least he has a consistent theme. It might have helped to have the film’s director Alfonso Cuarón involved with this TV show, but he was probably too busy spending time with his Oscars.
Lifetime is still rolling forward with its other scripted shows, including Devious Maids and Witches of East End. As far as their upcoming efforts are concerned, they have the dating series-set comedic drama Un-Real and Damien, the Omen sequel series coming from former Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara. That second one sounds like a definite one-and-done series, but here’s hoping Lifetime finds enough of an audience to put sci-fi back into its schedule at some point.