If you like to laugh, then Tuesdays this fall will make you cry. That's because the TPTB at NBC, Fox and ABC have no consideration for your time, DVR settings or sanity, creating a logjam of comedies Tuesdays at 9/8c.
The last time there was a three-way face-off in the same timeslot in the fall was in 2012 between these exact same networks. Fox won that match-up on the strength of New Girl and The Mindy Project, followed by NBC with Go On and The New Normal, and ABC with Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment. The last four shows were all canceled after that season with an average 18-to-49 demo rating of 2.0 between them. Oh, to have those "glory" days again!
So how will they all fare? Let's break it down. (CBS, which announces its schedule Wednesday, isn't expected to decamp any comedies there and will likely retain its NCIS-Bull duo.)
Everything you need to know about ABC's fall schedule
The Set-Up: It doesn't take a genius to see that a lead-in from The Voice gives Superstore and The Good Place the edge here. The singing competition averaged a 2.4 in the fall and is currently pulling in a 2.1 for its spring season. What's that you say? The Voice didn't help Go On and The New Normal beat Fox? True, but back in 2012, Fox was still riding the New Girl wave, which averaged a 3.2 for its then-second season. Neither The Mick nor B99 is grabbing those kinds of numbers (see below).
The Punchline: Working in NBC's favor is the fact that Superstore, which averaged a 1.1 this season, has proven to be a self-starter, having led off the highly competitive Thursdays-at-8 slot its entire existence. The Good Place's Season 1 demo of 1.35 is inflated thanks to its special premiere behind The Voice, but if either of them can bring most of their existing audience over, they're in good standing.
Everything you need to know about Fox's fall schedule
The Set-Up: ABC made perhaps the smartest move of the three networks in terms of this time period, shifting Black-ish from Wednesdays behind Modern Family — where it has always aired — to anchor Tuesdays at 9. Fresh Off the Boat won't provide the same lead-in ModFam did, but Black-ish, which averaged a 1.52 this season, is established enough to stand on its own. New series The Mayor — about a rapper who runs for mayor of his California hometown as a joke and ends up winning — is obviously a question mark, but it will be compatible with Black-ish as a lead-in.
Moreover, even if ABC doesn't take the crown next season, it's well positioned to in the future. This is a calculated move that proves they're playing long ball. Black-ish and American Housewife essentially swapped days to groom both of ABC's comedy blocs and the shows themselves. (I'd like to think ABC learned from past mistakes when it didn't put Trophy Wife behind Modern Family. RIP. #neverforget)
The Punchline: Modern Family, renewed for two more seasons, has long been ABC's bread winner, not just commercially and critically but awards-wise. But Black-ish has been coming on strong, with Tracee Ellis Ross winning a Golden Globe in January and the show breaking into the comedy series race at the Emmys last year (the only broadcast comedy other than Modern Family to do so). If it can continue racking up nominations — and most importantly, actual wins — that will only boost its profile.
Everything you need to know about NBC's fall schedule
The Set-Up: Fox went for stability to lead off every single night, shuffling Lethal Weapon to Tuesdays to lead into The Mick and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, both of which did about as well as they could this season in the earlier hour: The Mick averaged a 1.1, and B99 scored a 0.91.
Fox is high on the Kaitlin Olson starrer, so it's understandable why it kept the show on Tuesdays; but it's not an ideal pairing with its lead-in or lead-out. New series Ghosted — starring Craig Robinson and Adam Scott as a pair of X-Files-esque investigators — would've been a perfect fit for a "buddy cop"-themed night, while family-skewing The Mick should've taken Ghosted's Sunday slot.
The Punchline: A new show as a lead-in would also put less pressure on B99 to perform to already low expectations. The show has been taking huge drops every year and was down 25 percent this season from Season 3. Increased competition and a low lead-in from The Mick won't help. And if they get slaughtered and push comes to shove this time next year, with all the love Fox brass has for The Mick, Jake Peralta may have solved his last case.