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Why Did The New Adventures Of Old Christine Get Canceled?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is inarguably one of the greatest legends in TV comedy history, a standing she earned largely through her lengthy tenures on two iconic sitcoms — "Seinfeld" in the '90s, and "Veep" in the 2010s. But in the intervening years, Louis-Dreyfus didn't stay idle. In fact, in between her Emmy wins for those two shows, the actress and comedian added another Emmy to her shelf for a somewhat lesser-known, yet nonetheless hilarious series: CBS's "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (via IMDb).

The star-studded multi-camera sitcom follows the exploits of a neurotic, recently-divorced mother as she deals with the various characters in her life, including her brother Matthew (Hamish Linklater), her best friend and business partner Barb (Wanda Sykes), and her still-omnipresent ex-husband Richard (Clark Gregg). For several seasons, it was a solid hit for CBS, with a devoted fan base and constant Emmys presence via its star's consecutive nominations. But then, after Season 5, the network unceremoniously pulled the plug on "Old Christine" (via Variety). So, what happened? As it turns out, the story is both quite simple and a little complicated.

The ratings for Old Christine had been diminishing steadily for years

As used to be the case for every new show starring either Julia Louis-Dreyfus or her former screen partners Jason Alexander and Michael Richards, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" debuted under the shadow of the "Seinfeld curse" — the bizarre dry spell of luck that saw every new endeavor from a "Seinfeld" alum flop and get canceled after its first season (via Entertainment Weekly). "Old Christine" was notable for being the first show to break that curse. Early on, it had stellar ratings, routinely pulling in 10+ million viewers per episode, in large part thanks to the lead-in it received from the CBS megahit "Two and a Half Men" on Monday nights (via Media Life Magazine).

Unfortunately, when the show was pulled up to the timeslot before "Two and a Half Men" midway through Season 2, it didn't manage to carry over its audience. Ratings suffered a steep decline (via TV Series Finale), and whispers about cancelation began to go around. It was still a solid-enough success on the comedy front to be kept around for a while, and CBS eventually moved it to a new comedy block on Wednesday nights, where it fared pretty well. But, by the time Season 5 had dropped to as few as 5.2 million viewers per episode (via TV by the Numbers), the writing was on the wall. When CBS decided to "clean house" with a round of cancelations in May 2010 (via The AV Club), "Old Christine" was one of the shows to get the axe.

Creator Kari Lizer accused CBS of handling the show with sexism

Considering how well "The New Adventures of Old Christine" was doing ratings-wise before CBS started meddling wildly with its scheduling, it's no surprise that some would feel the network fumbled the bag. The series' creator and executive producer, Kari Lizer, was pretty direct in her view of things — the way she saw it, CBS handled "Old Christine" in a sexist and ageist manner.

In an interview with TV Guide at the time of the cancelation, Lizer didn't mince words: "As far as what happened at CBS, we've suffered from a serious lack of support from them since the beginning," the writer and producer said. "I hate to say it, but I'm afraid they don't care much for the female-of-a-certain-age point of view over there. How else do you explain them squandering the talents of Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] and Wanda [Sykes]?"

At the time, even TV Guide conceded that Lizer "may have a point." After all, this was a time when CBS appeared to have shifted its focus in the comedy department from such women-driven '90s hits as "Murphy Brown" and "Designing Women," to "guy-centric" shows like "Two and a Half Men" and the then-nascent "The Big Bang Theory," seemingly with no intention of turning back — which might explain all the jarring timeslot changes "Old Christine" had to endure throughout its five-year run.

ABC almost saved Old Christine, but the deal fell through

If CBS wouldn't give due attention and care to its own show, then other networks might. As early as 2007, when the reschedulings commenced and the show's ratings began to suffer, there were already reports that NBC might have an interest in picking up the show if CBS were to cancel it (via TV Series Finale). The following year, it was ABC's turn to approach production house Warner Bros. Television about saving "Old Christine" in case of cancelation (via TV Guide), an interest the network maintained going into the show's increasingly poorly-rated fourth season (via Entertainment Weekly).

On each of those occasions, CBS ultimately chose to renew "Old Christine," leaving competing networks' plans for it on standby. To no one's surprise, by the time the show got actually axed in Season 5, ABC and Warner Bros. TV were already in talks to bring it back. But those plans fell through when ABC proved "unwilling to pay the high license fee needed to keep the veteran comedy series going," according to Deadline. Ultimately, Warner Bros. TV had to announce that "The New Adventures of Old Christine" was over for good.