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Underground Cancelled as WGN America Ditches Prestige Dramas

We saw this coming, but it still hurts

Tim Surette

One of television's most important shows has found itself the victim of the all-mighty dollar.

WGN America made the difficult decision today to cancel Underground, the slavery drama from creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski. Underground ran two critically acclaimed seasons and starred Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge and Aisha Hinds.

The move is a direct result of looking over ledgers, budgets, and advertising spending as WGN America moves into the hands of Sinclair Media Group, which recently bought WGN America parent company Tribune Media. Earlier this month, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley mentioned that WGN America would likely be moving away from the elite scripted genre, and that definitely appears to be the case.

Peter Kern, President and CEO of Tribune Media, said in a statement: "As WGN America evolves and broadens the scope and scale of its portfolio of series, we recently announced that resources will be reallocated to a new strategy to increase our relevance within the rapidly changing television landscape. This move is designed to deliver additional value for our advertising and distribution partners and offer viewers more original content across our air."

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Whether that new strategy involves reality television or more mainstream scripted shows is unclear, but it's a clear steer away from what WGN America became known for after its last transition. In addition to Underground, the network also aired Salem, Manhattan (one of the best shows, seriously go check it out!), and Outsiders, all of which were canceled. WGN America also had the DC Comics adaptation Scalped in development, but that will likely also be jettisoned under WGN America's new direction.

That doesn't mean that Underground is gone for good... yet. Kern also said that he hopes that Underground finds a new home elsewhere, so expect Sony Pictures Television to make a few calls around town. Ditto for Scalped, which could pop up elsewhere.