MTV delivered a powerful blow by canceling its freshman series Sweet/Vicious today.
The half-hour dramedy created by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson followed two college girls, Jules (Eliza Bennett) and Ophelia (Taylor Dearden) who become vigilantes for sexual assault justice on their campus after one of them is raped by her best friend's boyfriend at a party. Robinson announced the news with a touching note on her Twitter account.
"I got the news that MTV has cancelled Sweet/Vicious. To say I am devastated would be the understatement of the year. Please hear me when I say this decision should not make you feel like your story is invalid," Robinson wrote. "To the survivors who have supported and loved our show, who have found comfort in the stories we told, you mean everything to me and the entire cast and crew. Jules and Ophelia will live on forever inside each and every person who fights for this cause." Her full note is below.
Bennett also penned a heartfelt note to fans and survivors who championed the show, lamenting the loss of a program that made them represented and heard.
The show did struggle with rating during its freshman season, scoring only 310,000 viewers for its Jan. 24 season finale and a 0.16 rating in MTV's key demo, according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, the low ratings of the critically adored darling were compounded by executive shakeups at MTV's parent company Viacom over the past few months. Sweet/Vicious was a project picked up by a former content chief and the new powers that be didn't see the value in a low ratings performer.
Robinson proclaimed the series to be the empowerment we need in the Trump era. The show was a powerful statement about the trauma of sexual assault victims and all of the ways that college campus policies and law enforcements have failed to protect victims. Sweet/Vicious gave a voice to a section of the population often silence or drowned out in favor of their attackers. Most importantly, that voice wasn't condescending or manipulative. It didn't glorify sexual assault for shock value or attempt to evade the grittier parts of the dark subject for convenience.
Sweet/Vicious is a necessary narrative at a time, as Robinson says, when crusades for social justice — especially around issues of sexual harassment and assault — are top of mind for many Americans. The quiet dismissal on a Friday shortly before MTV announces its choices for new programming during their Upfronts presentation in May is just salt in the wound.
If there was any show that deserved to be saved by another network or streaming services to allow it a second chance at finding an audience, it is Sweet/Vicious, not just because of its important content but because of the intelligent way the show told tough stories. It balanced humor and light while facing the horrifying parts of reality head on. Sweet/Vicious deserves more, just like the fans and survivors who championed it.