"I had the rare distinction of having a show that was too edgy for Fox." That's actor-comedian Christopher Titus, lamenting the unexpected death of his dark family comedy Titus. Axed in May after three seasons, the semi-autobiographical sitcom airs its five remaining originals over the next month beginning with back-to-back episodes Monday (8 pm/ET).
Titus' demise ends a tumultuous partnership between the stand-up comic and Fox, one which involved personality conflicts and frequent clashes over content. "I will admit, at times, I'm very stubborn creatively," says Titus, whose show took an un-PC approach to everything from Alzheimer's disease to child abuse. "I was always, 'Let's push the envelope.' And I have a big mouth, [which] probably didn't help."
Still, Titus seemed worth the headache. Despite a 19 percent ratings dive last season, it averaged nearly 8 million viewers more than the renewed Grounded For Life and King of the Hill. "I was very surprised," says Mediaweek's Marc Berman of Titus' cancellation. "I figured they'd certainly bring back Titus before Grounded."
"The explanation Fox gave me was, 'There was a lack of passion at the upper levels of the network,'" says Titus. In other words, he adds, "Show business is not all business. Sometimes, it's personal." Fox's only comment was, "We wish Chris Titus nothing but the best."
The lack of closure behind-the-scenes mirrors on-screen events as well. Because Titus didn't have time to script an appropriate finale, the series ends with his alter ego distraught over his mother's suicide being carted off to the psych ward. "Titus is in a mental hospital at the end of the show," he sighs. "That feels wrong."
In real-life, the 36-year-old funnyman has maintained his sanity by continuing his stand-up career and focusing on two upcoming projects: an hour drama he's developing and a big screen family film titled Five Seconds, which he'll direct and star in. And what about another sitcom? "I've done the best half-hour I could, so I don't think I'm going to do another one," he concludes. "I wanted to change people's thinking about screwed-up families, and we did that."