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Why The Workaholics Movie Got Canceled

From its 2011 debut to its 2017 demise, the Comedy Central series "Workaholics" always occupied a unique place on television. While workplace sitcoms are nothing new, the series brought a unique spin to the formula, buoyed by an irreverent vibe that mixed classic stoner comedies with tried-and-true office antics. 

Created by four real-life friends (comedians Kyle Newacheck, Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson, and Anders Holm), it centered on a group of former college buddies — played by DeVine, Anderson, and Holm — who work at a telemarketing firm while smoking pot and playing pranks in their off hours that get them into plenty of trouble.

A few years after the series went off the airwaves, news broke that it would be making a comeback in the form of a direct-to-streaming movie that could lead to new episodes. Although the four creators had moved on to other projects, fans were eager to lay eyes on this Paramount+ relaunch. But in January 2023, a mere five weeks before production was to begin, DeVine announced on Instagram that the film was off and that he was "butt hurt" aplenty.

So, what went wrong? How did one of TV's most endearing series of the past decade go from imminent comeback to the dustbin? Sit back, light up and enjoy the trip — here's the lowdown on why the "Workaholics" movie got the axe.

Workaholics had unique origins

Unlike other workplace sitcoms like "Newsradio," "The Office," or "30 Rock," "Workaholics" wasn't spearheaded by a famous comedian or a longtime veteran producer. In fact, the series had a strange road from concept to smash hit, with much of its development coming down to sheer luck and happenstance — which is what made it such a great success story. 

Show creators Anderson, DeVine, Holm, and Newacheck were all struggling young comedians, each navigating various ups and downs in their careers by the mid 2000s. Together they created Mail Order Comedy, posting sketches on the early days of YouTube, beginning in 2006. This brought them to the attention of Comedy Central, but surprisingly, they didn't even realize the network was making overtures until it was almost too late. "Comedy Central came to us and sent us a message on YouTube," DeVine told Collider during a 2013 interview. "We didn't check [our messages] for about a month because we never check those messages." 

As DeVine tells it, Comedy Central invited the group to pitch a series, and within a year, a pilot was on the air. But Holm made clear that it wasn't as simple as it might sound. 

"There had been a couple other things that were close to working out, that didn't work out," he told Collider. Added Newacheck: "There had been a Cartoon Network thing that hadn't worked out. ... So for me, it didn't even become real until I was able to turn on Comedy Central and watch the show."

They walked away on their own terms

Soon after it began airing in 2011, "Workaholics" found a devoted fan following. With its signature brand of scattershot laughs, off-the-wall antics, and meandering storylines, it appealed to just about anyone who'd ever experienced the drudgery of a 9-to-5 job. More than just your standard stoner comedy — although it was that, too — it was celebrated for never dreaming too big, and never jumping the shark. That's why its humble conclusion was all the more appropriate, with a finale that eschewed the typical grand goodbye.

But the series didn't conclude in 2017 because of low ratings, disappointment from studio heads, or bad reviews. Like some of the best shows in TV history, the series bowed out because its stars and creators wanted to go out on their own terms. In a statement at the end of 2016, when they made it known that "Workaholics" would be ending after its seventh season, Anderson, DeVine, Holm, and Newacheck made clear that it was by choice.

"We would like to thank Comedy Central, Doug Herzog, Kent Alterman and all of the fans for turning us from Boyz II Men," they told Deadline. "It was an incredible run but we've decided to leave on a HIGH note. Get it?" 

The movie revival spent two years in development

With their "Workaholics" journey complete, the four creators of the series moved on to other projects. But outside of "Game Over, Man!" and "The Package," a pair of Netflix original films in 2018, each of them more or less did their own thing.  

DeVine acted in the series "The Righteous Gemstones," Anderson joined the 2020 Hulu series "Woke," while Holm did a series of guest spots on shows like "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "Mixed-Ish." Newacheck had been penning scripts for Taika Waititi's "What We Do in the Shadows" series.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, work progressed on crafting the series' return to television. Planned as an original streaming movie that would air exclusively on Paramount+ (the network owned by Viacom, parent of "Workaholics" network Comedy Central), there was tangible excitement for a follow-up. The show's Twitter account fired up and began posting recollections of the series' best moments, and the four creators launched their own (extremely NSFW) podcast "This is Important," which every so often teased out their work on the project.

But everything would come crashing down in January of 2023, after nearly two years of development and pre-production, when Paramount+ announced the film was being hit with the cancel hammer.

The sudden cancelation took everyone by surprise

As DeVine made clear in his post, there were no warning signs, no troubling developments as the production ramped up, before they had the rug pulled out from under them. 

"Welp, Paramount+ decided to cancel the 'Workaholics' movie," he said in a post on Instagram. "Obviously, this news is the loosest butthole... We are deeply butt hurt about this decision because we were so excited to bring the weird one last time." 

On the January 10th episode of the "This is Important" podcast, the gang went further, describing just how sudden the announcement was. 

"We get a call from our manager Isaac that Paramount+ is pulling the 'Workaholics' movie," said DeVine on the podcast. "So, I think our goal is to take it to Netflix or Hulu or Amazon or another streamer that thinks we're worthwhile."

They were all ready to roll when they closed the doors

As unexpected as the news was, perhaps even more odd was the timing;  production was so close, rehearsals were underway. And with the four creators warmed up, its premature termination was all the more dispiriting.

"We were ready to go, we were doing table reads, we have offices set up," DeVine said on the January 10th podcast. "We were building stages."

"The stages are up, it's happening," Holm added. "The office was taped out on the floor. I saw it yesterday." 

"I went in yesterday," said Blake Anderson, noting he had seen some of the old crew. "It was feeling very magical."

"That's one of the biggest bummers," summed up DeVine. "All the crew that we've hired, that thought they were going to spend this time working for us and getting paychecks from us and our show, they no longer get that."

It just didn't fit the studio's strategy

As for why Paramount decided to pull the plug at the 11th hour, it's not a question with a simple answer. In the first reports that came out about the film being canned, The Hollywood Reporter claimed that a source had indicated the production had suffered delays, and "it no longer fit within the streamer's schedule." But Adam DeVine relayed an entirely different, if somewhat vague, reasoning that he was given by the studio, saying on Instagram that "[Paramount+] told us we don't fit their new 'global' strategy." But what does that mean exactly? 

"Essentially they said that they don't think Paramount+ strategies — which is a thing I don't know about — [says] 'Workaholics' is global enough," DeVine said on the podcast. "They wanted a more global reach.

The gang went on to discuss the theory that their series doesn't resonate outside of the United States. Because of an apparent shift towards programming that is popular across the world, "Workaholics" can't compete.

Unhappy to hear that the studio didn't believe in the popularity of the series, the studio's reasoning didn't sit well with Holm, Anderson, DeVine, and Newacheck, who contrasted their situation with other recent revivals from Paramount. "They made a 'Reno 911' movie, what happened to the 'Workaholics' movie?"

They've got big feelings about the movie's axing

As you might imagine, the cast and creators of "Workaholics" weren't pleased when they got word that the upcoming movie was being ditched. Though Adam DeVine's note on Instagram struck a mostly professional, if annoyed tone, they aired their grievances with much more frankness on their podcast, spending the majority of the two episodes after cancellation expounding on the ill-fated film.

"Nothing can derail us, Okay?" said Holm. "No matter what they throw at us, we'll keep chugging along." 

Nevertheless, it appears to be an uphill climb for all involved. According to IndieWire, Paramount Global chief programming officer of streaming Tanya Giles said at TCA on January 9th that, "We're big fans of the 'Workaholics' guys." Yet, she backed up DeVine's explanation that the film didn't fit within their global strategy. The project remains with MTV Entertainment Studios, and it's future is uncertain.

It would have teased Workaholics: The Next Generation

Though little concrete info had found its way out of the production, there are some tidbits regarding what the creators of "Workaholics" may have had planned. Upon its announcement in February of 2021, MTV Entertainment Group president Chris McCarthy spoke with Vulture about the then-upcoming film. Along with several other relaunched shows like "Beavis and Butthead," "Inside Amy Schumer," and "Reno 911," the new movie would have been part of a "Comedy Central Hub" that he claimed would "serve as an anchor for the audience, [telling them] that this is the home for all the comedy content within the service, both iconic franchises and brand-new stuff."

But beyond nebulous corporate speak, McCarthy added that the "Workaholics" film would center on "what it's like to work through the pandemic." Given how the workplace has changed since 2020 thanks to COVID-19, there would have been no shortage of fresh material to use as fodder for the film. 

But that's not all, as it seems they were even putting pieces in place to use the film as a backdoor pilot for a full series revival. "You may begin to see the seeding of a next generation of cast for what a new 'Workaholics' could look like," said McCarthy at the time.

The show's creators are still hoping to make it happen

Just because Paramount+ has tapped out on making a "Workaholics" movie, that doesn't mean it's truly done. In fact, the four creators aren't giving up. On their podcast they discussed plans to shop the movie around. They made a point that because sets, stages, and crew are all still in place — at least for the moment — they're primed to be picked up quickly, if a smart studio is willing step up to the plate.

"If there's any friends of the [podcast] that have big budgets, studios, streamers," Holm said, "we're ready to go."

It may seem unlikely, but it wouldn't be unprecedented for a canceled project to be dropped by one network and quickly snatched up by another. Netflix in particular has a history of picking up canceled shows, including new seasons of "Longmire" and "Manifest." They also grabbed the animated tale "The Little Prince" in 2015 just two weeks before it was dropped by none other than Paramount (per IGN). Given the gang's strong relationship with Netflix — who they worked with on "Game Over, Man!," it's at least a possibility that the "Workaholics" movie isn't dead yet.

They are making other plans

Now that the "Workaholics" movie is a no-go, Kyle, Adam, Blake, and Anders are facing some serious time off that had been earmarked for producing the film. While they're undoubtedly bummed to not be rolling cameras on the revival, that may not be what they're most upset about. In fact, it sounds like they're most unhappy about not spending the spring all together, something they noted they haven't done in quite some time.

"I was excited to hang out with my boys for a few months straight," Anderson acknowledged. But they're not about to sit around doing nothing and just waiting for something to come up, as they're too pumped up to sit on their hands. Holm suggested they might crank out a quick indie movie together and capitalize on the opening in their schedule. The notion of a live "This is Important" podcast tour was also raised. 

Hearing them spitball ideas, it's obvious that the gang wants to do something big with the time off. What that will wind up being is anyone's guess, but an improv show or a low budget, straight-to-streaming original movie seems like a possibility.

It's not the first canceled TV revival

Though it may have come as a shock to fans of "Workaholics" when Paramount dropped the film, it's nothing new in Hollywood. It's certainly not the first time a show was announced, only to never make it to the screen. Even late into production, plenty of shows have been canceled before going in front of camera — and some even after they had begun shooting. This even includes some high profile revivals, a few of which have been fairly recently.

Notably, the announced relaunch of '80s legal drama classic "L.A. Law" was put out to pasture by ABC in May of 2022, two years after a major announcement of a legacy sequel with some of its original cast. Similarly, the proposed revival of '90s stalwart "Coach" was quickly canned in August of 2015, despite receiving a straight-to-series order by NBC; it was in the middle of production. 

Perhaps most famously however, "Star Trek: Phase II," a planned mid-'70s revival of the iconic '60s series, was all set to go (sets were even constructed and a cast was in place) when the studio pulled the plug. Ultimately, they chose to pivot to a big screen feature film instead, which wound up sparking further series to come. So, perhaps there's hope for "Workaholics" yet.